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Loyola faculty receive grant to virtually train first responders with the help of self-advocate educators

Lisa Schoenbrodt, Ed.D., professor of speech-language and hearing sciences, and Leah Katherine Saal, Ph.D., associate professor of literacy, have been awarded a $26,933, one-year grant from the Maryland Developmental Disabilities Council for their innovative project, “LEAD Program Online Regional Pilot for FIRE/EMS.”

This grant expands the existing “Learning to Lead: Training Self-Advocate Educators for Law Enforcement” (LEAD) program to an online regional pilot to train first responders to understand the behaviors of and methods to communicate with individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD/DD). 

“Pending the successful outcomes of the expansion of the LEAD Program to a regional online model, we anticipate this model (a combination of synchronous/asynchronous training) to be able to have the flexibility to meet the needs of rural, suburban, and urban EMS/FIRE personnel in Maryland,” said Saal. “As the curriculum and self-advocate educator integration will be flipped to a fully online format, it is possible to reach all regions of Maryland—including those where transportation and representation may be limited.”

The grant will provide a sustainable virtual model of delivery for the five regions in Maryland and is the first to include self-advocate educators with lived experience as the core of the training.  

More about Loyola’s LEAD program

Loyola University Maryland, in collaboration with Best Buddies and the Municipal Police Academy, has worked to develop the LEAD program, designed to provide officers training to help interactions with individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The program was created by the Ethan Saylor Alliance, a foundation started to honor Ethan Saylor, who had Down syndrome and died after an encounter with law enforcement.