USU’s Center for Persons with Disabilities has a new director

When he moved into his new position as Executive Director of the <a href=”” target=”_blank”>Center for Persons With Disabilities at Utah State University</a> in January, Dr. Matthew Wappett understood the potential for change in his professional world.

He served as associate director of the Center on Disabilities and Human Development at the University of Idaho.

With apparent changes ahead in health care and insurance systems in this country is there a way to know how it will affect the disabled?

“That’s the $20 million question,” said Dr.Wappett. “It’s really hard to tell. The President’s budget shows significant cuts across the board to social services.

“Many such programs touch and support people with disabilities and their families. So we have some concerns there. The big question becomes, how many of those will be implemented and seen through.”

He said the same is true with proposed changes to the Affordable Care Act like the Medicaid Block Granting to states and some other programs that would have significant impacts on people with disabilities.

“What it’s all going to look like, we don’t know. Part of our job here, and a big focus for me, is watching these policies that provide advocacy and education when we can so that, hopefully, it doesn’t have as big an impact as it could.”

Dr. Wappett said assistive technology is an important issue to him and he hopes the CPD can remain engaged in keeping abreast of innovations within what has been a very creative assistive technology unit at USU.

Right now 70 to 80 percent of the funding for services to people with disabilities comes from the federal government and any changes have a huge impact down the line and across the country.

A new human services structure, the Sorensen Legacy Building, is under construction on campus and will house the CPD’s clinical programs, co-housed with many of the other clinical programs from USU’s College of Education.

“Our outreach, policy and research divisions will remain in our current home which is right next door. We will be divided, but we will be very close,” said Dr. Wappett.

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