Texas Tech University

Current Projects for the Virginia Murray Sowell Center

Project Leadership Challenge: Preparing the Next Generation of Leaders Working with Individuals with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities

Project Leadership Challenge Cohort 1

In August 2019, the Texas Council for Developmental Disabilities (TCDD) funded Project Leadership Challenge for a period of five years from 2019-2024 ($750,000). This project is a new leadership development training program housed within the Sowell Center for Research and Education in Sensory Disabilities. This project is designed to train the next generation of leaders who work with people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) in Texas. Through the statewide program, current and emerging leaders of service provider organizations will acquire the skills necessary to transform their organizations and ultimately improve the services and supports they provide for people with IDD.

Learn more about Project Leadership Challenge

Sowell Center Receives $1.5 million Grant

Texas Council for Developmental Disabilities (TCDD) has funded a new project, Project TEDD: Training Educators in Dual Diagnosis, at $1.5 million. Over 5 years, K-12 teachers will be provided with the skills needed to work with students with a dual diagnosis (DD) of intellectual and developmental disability (I/DD) and mental health needs. A train-the-trainer model will be used to train 400 teachers in Texas who will in turn train 5 more additional teachers. The co-investigators are Drs. Devender Banda, Stacy Carter and Nora Griffin-Shirley.

The mission of TCDD is to create change so that all people with disabilities are fully included in their communities and exercise control over their own lives.

Learn more about Project TEDD

The Interdisciplinary Neurological Visual Impairment Teaching Experts Program

Project INVITE is the Sowell Center's newest sensory impairments Office of Special Education Programs grant (funded in 2019, the first cohort of students started in summer of 2020, the second cohort will begin in summer 2022. The grant is led by Dr. Rona Pogrund, assisted by Dr. Nora Griffin-Shirley. The Project INVITE grant was created to recruit and train scholars from Texas, Montana, Wyoming and Idaho to become teachers of students with visual impairments (VI) or orientation and mobility (O&M) specialists with specialized expertise in neurological visual impairment.

Recruitment files for Cohort 2 

The Reach Across Texas Program

RATP is a competitive scholarship program that assists with tuition and fees for students who are accepted into the Teacher of Students with Visual Impairments (TVI) or Orientation and Mobility (O&M) Certification Programs at TTU. The funds are provided from the state of Texas to the Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired to increase the capacity of visual impairment personnel working as TVIs or O&M specialists with school-aged students (birth-21) in Texas. To be eligible for a Reach Across Texas scholarship award, one has to be a resident of Texas, have a Bachelor's Degree and an initial Texas teaching certification in special ed or any area of general ed for the TVI program and just a Bachelor's Degree for the O&M program, and seek employment in an educational setting in Texas after completion of the program. The deadlines for consideration of an award are: June 1 for fall admission, November 1 for spring admission, and May 1 for summer admission. For the Reach Across Texas application, visit the Application Information page.

Nontraditional Deaf Education Certification Program

This program is run through the Education Service Center Region 17 in conjunction with Texas Tech University and the Sowell Center. The purpose of this program is to provide quality non-traditional training to selected individuals throughout the state of Texas that will lead to an increase in the number of qualified and certified teachers serving students who are deaf or hard of hearing in the State of Texas.

Texas Tech University Visual Impairment, Orientation and Mobility, and Deaf-Hard of Hearing Programs are members of the National Leadership Consortium in Sensory Disabilities (NLCSD) doctoral preparation program. It is a Collaborative Agreement funded by the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs and awarded to Salus University. NLCSD's primary purpose is to increase the number of highly skilled doctoral scholars who will become leaders in administration, higher education, policy and education in order to significantly improve the interventions, services, and outcomes for children with sensory disabilities(deafness/hard of hearing, deafblindness, blindness/visual impairment), ages birth to 21.

This work is supported by the Texas Council for Developmental Disabilities through a grant from the U.S. Administration for Community Living (ACL), Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Washington, D.C. 20201, with a 100% federal funding award totaling $5,907,507. Council efforts are those of the grantee and do not necessarily represent the official views of nor are endorsed by ACL, HHS, or the U.S. government.