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Increasing Access to Special Education and Disability Legal Information for Refugee, Immigrant and Native Utahns

Our goal is to partner with community groups that serve refugee, immigrant, and Native populations to promote accessibility for students with disabilities in Utah. While children with disabilities are legally guaranteed access to education, the process of securing this right can be complex. Parents rely on online information to advocate for their child. Refugee, immigrant and Native Utahns have higher rates of disability and are thus more likely to require accommodations at school. Most organizations provide materials in English/Spanish. Our project will translate existing text and A/V materials into high-need languages such as Nepali, Vietnamese, Burmese, or Navajo. We will also develop a training and marketing plan for service providers--physicians, teachers, and refugee organizations--to alert parents to these resources. This is a partnership between the S.J. Quinney College of Law, the Colleges of Education, Medicine, and Nursing, the School for Cultural and Social Transformation, the Utah Parent Center and the Disability Law Center. The interdisciplinary team realizes the University goals of promoting educational success and engaging refugee, immigrant and Native Utahns. By helping to ensure that all Utah children can access education, these youth will be enabled to achieve their best outcomes and participate fully in our community. The University thus both demonstrates its commitment to these communities and benefits from the potential pipeline of diverse students.

Current Status

Many refugee and immigrant families arrive in Utah with limited skills in both English and Spanish. The purpose of this project was to increase access to special education legal information for these Utahns. We observed that Utah Parent Center, the largest source of special education information for Utah parents, offered only materials in English and Spanish. From local refugee service organizations, we learned that many refugees arrive in Utah with limited reading and writing skills in their spoken language. With this in mind, we collaborated with Utah Parent Center to identify the materials most valuable to Utah parents. We had these materials translated into Arabic, Burmese, Somali, and Swahili. We reached out to a local design and e-learning firm who created audio visual representations of this information in Arabic, Burmese, English, Somali, Spanish, and Swahili. These assets were then made available to Utah Parents Center, who have posted them on their website. Utah Parent Center is currently working on a plan to market these materials to families, schools, and healthcare providers. We are confident that with increased access to this legal information, all Utah parents will become better advocates for their children in the public education system.


Lezlie Frye
School of Cultural and Social Transformation
Gender Studies
Project Owner

Lisa Gren
School of Medicine
Family And Preventive Medicine

Beth Jennings
S.J. Quinney College of Law
James E. Faust Law Library

Sharlene Kiuhara
College of Education
Special Education

Kristen Pagel
School of Medicine

Debra Penney
College of Nursing
College Of Nursing

Mary (Pollie) Price
College of Health
Occupational/Recreational Ther

Project Info

Funded Project Amount

Refugee, immigrant, Native, accessibility, disability, legal information, tribal nations, special education

Project Status
Funded 2020

View poster (pdf)
Last Updated: 12/7/22