Webcast Series - Disability Research: Why it Matters

About the series:

The Center on Knowledge Translation for Disability and Rehabilitation Research has produced a series of interviews about how people with disabilities find, judge, and use research. The aim of this interview series is to help researchers improve their outreach to people with disabilities by better understanding the issues that affect access and use of research. The interview series focuses on how people with disabilities:

  • Find Disability Research
  • Judge the Quality of Research
  • Work with Researchers
  • Use Research in Advocacy, and
  • How researchers should share their work




Read the interview or listen to the podcast of Emily Ladau’s experience using quality research in her work as a disability rights activist.


Read the interview or listen to the podcast of Joe Mangum’s experience of finding research to help support his two children with disabilities live up to their fullest potential.


Read the interview or listen to the podcast of Toni Saia’s perspective on her use and development of research as a person with a disability and as a PhD candidate.

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About the Guests:

Photo of Emily Ladau

Emily Ladau is a passionate disability rights activist, writer, speaker, and digital communications consultant whose career began at the age of 10, when she appeared on several episodes of Sesame Street to educate children about her life with a physical disability. A native of Long Island, New York, Emily graduated with a B.A. in English from Adelphi University in 2013. She is dedicated to harnessing the powers of communication and social media as tools for people of all abilities to become informed and engaged about disability and social justice issues.

Emily works with Concepts, Inc. supporting key U.S. Department of Labor Office of Disability Employment Policy initiatives. She is also the Editor in Chief of the Rooted in Rights Blog, a platform focused on disability rights issues. Additionally, Emily runs a business through which she both manages and provides consultation services regarding online presence and communications for disability-related organizations. More about Emily’s work can be found on her website, Words I Wheel By.

Read our interview with Emily

Photo of Joe Mangum

Joe Mangum, is a native Texan who currently resides in Bulverde, TX; a small town outside of San Antonio. He is a husband to Amanda Mangum, and a father to a 7-year old daughter, and a 5-year old son. What is wonderfully unique about Joe’s children is that both of them have special needs. His daughter has Down syndrome, and his son is on the autism spectrum. Joe and his wife believe that whether your child has special needs or not, you always want the very best for your children, and you want to be the best you can be so that you can give them the support and love they need to be able to live up to their fullest potential. He is grateful to God for blessing him with two amazing children, and wouldn’t want them to be any other way than the way that they are. Joe believes that he has learned a lot about himself, others, and life in general through parenting his special kiddos, and knows that they have and will be a blessing in teaching others about life as well.

Read our interview with Joe

Photo of Toni Saia

Toni Saia, was born and raised in Staten Island, New York but decided to give life in the desert a try. She is a PhD student at the University of Arizona studying Counseling Education and Supervision. She currently works at DIRECT Center for Independence as the Community Action Coordinator, where her goal is to remove systemic barriers and ensure people with disabilities can fully participate in their community. Additionally, she is one of the co-founders Chapter Chair of Arizona ADAPT, Arizona’s first ADAPT chapter. Her vision is of a just world… where people with disabilities have equal opportunity to participate fully in all aspects of life… where communities are barrier-free and access is universal… where discrimination is unthinkable.

Read our interview with Toni

Photo of Gemar Neloms

GeMar Neloms, is a Senior Technical Assistance Consultant with American Institutes for Research, which houses the Center on Knowledge Translation for Disability and Rehabilitation Research (KTDRR). She is active in AIR’s network of disability-oriented researchers and technical assistance providers and her KTDRR colleagues welcome her contributions to this webcast series. Her portfolio of work focuses on disability services, career readiness, secondary and postsecondary education and public health. She leads research and evidence-based technical assistance efforts with states and nonprofit organizations and develops tools and resources to enhance their organizational and program capacity. Prior to AIR, Ms. Neloms’ work in the disability field has included the oversight, implementation and scaling of the National Collaborative on Workforce and Disability for Youth’s professional development modules for youth and workforce development professionals and the provision of youth development programs for all youth, including youth with disabilities.

The contents of these interviews were developed under grant number 90DP0027 from the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research. NIDILRR is a Center within the Administration for Community Living (ACL), Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The contents of these interviews do not necessarily represent the policy of the Center on KTDRR, American Institutes for Research, NIDILRR, ACL, HHS, and you should not assume endorsement by the Federal Government.