Recent News


Empower TN, STEP, & The TN Council on Developmental Disabilities Announce Summer 2019 Youth Leadership Academy

Fermina is Proud!

Empower TN, STEP, and the Tennessee Council on Developmental Disabilities invite young people between the ages of 16 and 24 to apply to participate in the "I Am More Than..." Youth Leadership Academy to be held in Nashville TN on July 17 and 18, 2019.

Participants will learn about:
  • Speaking up for Yourself
  • Getting Comfortable with Who You Are
  • Working Toward Independence
  • And more...

All while having fun!

This program will be offered at no cost to participants. 

Application deadline is April 30, 2019.

For online registration please click here.

For a paper application please click here to download a PDF copy or email or call Lisa Gosnell of STEP at 800.280.7837.

Questions about the program? Please call Paul Choquette of EMPOWER TN at 615.515.8612. 

Back to Top


TNDOE Releases IEA (Individualized Education Account) Program Info Videos

Looking for more information about the IEA Program? Check out these short informational videos posted on the TNDOE IEA webpage

For more detailed information about the IEA Program, watch the IEA Parent Information Session Webinar, read answers to frequently asked questions, read the IEA Parent Handbook, or review the other resources on the TNDOE IEA webpage.

Back to Top


Your Voice is Needed: Perspective on Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) Survey

The Vanderbilt Kennedy Center is currently seeking families of individuals with complex communication needs to complete a survey on communication systems and Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) services.

The goal is to gather information that will help improve the awareness of AAC services, AAC implementation strategies, and barriers of accessibility of communication systems and services.

This survey will take approximately 20-30 minutes to complete. However, because your participation is voluntary, you are free to withdraw from this survey at any time.

Copy the link below into your web browser:

At the end of this survey, you will have the option to be entered in a drawing to win one of several $20 gift cards.

Back to Top


Effective Date: Amendment to Special Education Programs and Services- Parental Participation

TN DOE Rule Change on Draft IEPs goes into effect on March 12 2019

On October 19, 2018, the state board of education passed on final reading an amendment to Special Education Programs and Services - Parent Participation, Rule 0520-01-09-.15 that requires parents receive a copy of a draft Individualized Education Program (IEP) at least 48 hours before a scheduled IEP meeting, if the school or district creates such a draft.  Parents may decline their right to receive a copy of the draft IEP if one is developed. 

State rules and regulations are effective 90 days after submission to the secretary of state’s office.  Therefore, this rule will go into effect March 12, 2019 and updates to EasyIEP will be made at that time to reflect the changes outlined in the attached memo.  In order to prepare for these changes, it is advised that directors of special education share this information with applicable staff and begin making preparations for any necessary changes in practice.

Click here for Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) related to this amendment.

Click here to view memorandum on the amendment.

Back to Top


Dear Colleague Letter - Early Intervention Services (EIS)

Source: U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP)

OSEP has published a new policy letter (December 20, 2018), regarding screening and whether it should be included as part of an evaluation for an infant or toddler suspected of being deaf or hard of hearing, as well as, information on the applicable evaluation timelines and required protocols under Part C of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Additional OSEP Memos, Dear Colleague Letters and Policy Letters are publicly available online.

Back to Top


Spring 2019 IEA Parent Information Session Registration

TDOE IEA Spring 2019 Parent Info Session Registration Deadline is January 4 2019

Parent Information Sessions

In January and February, the department will provide information sessions for parents on the IEA (Individualized Education Account) Program. Parent information sessions are designed to help parents who are interested in enrolling their student in the IEA Program learn more about what the IEA Program is, including student eligibility, amount of funding, approved expenses, and parent responsibilities. Parents will also learn how to complete the application process to enroll their child in the IEA Program. These sessions are not for parents of students already enrolled in the IEA Program.

During registration, parents will be asked to choose only one session to attend. All sessions are from 6 - 8 p.m. local time unless otherwise noted. These sessions are only open to parents of eligible students. The addresses for each information session will be emailed to registered parents.

Jan. 22, 2019 – Nashville
Jan. 28, 2019 – Knoxville
Feb. 5, 2019 – Memphis

To register, click here. Space is limited, and parents must pre-register to attend the in-person information sessions. Registration closes Jan. 4, 2019.

Please note: Childcare will not be provided at the information sessions. Children may attend the information sessions but must be under parent/guardian supervision at all times.

If you are unable to attend an in-person session, there will be a live webinar for parents on Feb. 13 from 6-8 p.m. CT. Instructions for how to access the webinar are available here. Pre-registration is not required for the webinar.

The session PowerPoint and a recording of the session webinar will also be posted on the department's IEA web page (here).


Private School Information Sessions

The department will conduct a live information session webinar on the IEA Program for private school principals interested in applying to participate in the IEA Program for the 2019-20 school year. Private school information sessions are designed to help private school principals learn more about what the IEA Program is, including school eligibility, school responsibilities, and approved expenses. Private school principals will also learn how to complete the application process to become a participating school in the IEA Program.

The webinar will be held on Feb. 15 from 9-11 a.m. CT. Instructions for how to access the webinar are available here. School principals do not need to pre-register for the webinar.

The recording of the live webinar will be posted on the department's IEA web page (here)

Schools principals can also submit a request for the IEA team to come and speak to their school by emailing

Back to Top


10 Fun Wways to Encourage Learning this Winter Break

With the holidays quickly approaching, winter break is a time of celebration and relaxation. While the time away from school provides a well-deserved break for your student(s), it also provides the opportunity for significant learning loss. Keeping your student(s) learning this holiday season can be fun and effortless while ensuring they return to school both revitalized and ready for a new year of learning.  Click here to continue reading.

Back to Top


Try CDC's FREE Milestone Tracer app today (Pruebe hoy la app GRATIS de los CDC Sigamos el Desarrollo)

Milestones matter! Track your child’s milestones from age 2 months to 5 years with CDC’s easy-to-use illustrated checklists; get tips from CDC for encouraging your child’s development; and find out what to do if you are ever concerned about how your child is developing.

From birth to age 5, your child should reach milestones in how he or she plays, learns, speaks, acts, and moves. Photos and videos in this app illustrate each milestone and make tracking them for your child easy and fun!

Desde el nacimiento hasta los 5 años, su hijo debería alcanzar indicadores en la manera en que juega, aprende, habla, actúa y se mueve. Hágale seguimiento a los indicadores del desarrollo de su hijo desde los 2 meses hasta los 5 años de edad; obtenga consejos para promover el desarrollo de su hijo; y averigüe lo que puede hacer si alguna vez le preocupa cómo va el desarrollo de su hijo. En esta aplicación se ilustra cada indicador del desarrollo con fotos y videos, lo que hace que para usted sea fácil y divertido hacerles el seguimiento en su hijo!

Download it free today on iOS and Android devices in English and Spanish.

Disponible en español y en inglés. Descárguela gratis hoy en los dispositivos iOS y Android.

Back to Top


Resources to Use: Spotlight on Early Childhood Tools and Transition Planning for Deaf Students

Check out the Early Childhood Recommended Practices Modules now available on the Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center website. The modules, based on the Division for Early Childhood of the Council for Exceptional Children's recommended practices, were created to use when training early care and education, early intervention, and early childhood special education faculty and professional development providers.   

These free and interactive multimedia modules are easily accessed by faculty and professional development providers and can be embedded in coursework and professional development sessions. Each module contains several lessons and includes accompanying instructor supports and learning guides to assist professional development providers and faculty. 

Back to Top


“In It,” Ep. 1: Why We Cry at IEP Meetings

Anyone who’s ever sat in on an IEP meeting can confirm: When parents and teachers meet to discuss the needs of a child who’s struggling in school, emotions tend to run high.

On this first episode of In It, hosts Amanda Morin and Lexi Walters Wright dig into why. They talk with comedian Dena Blizzard about her (very) public reaction to a disappointing IEP meeting. They also connect with expert Mark Griffin, Ph.D., about what’s at stake during these meetings.

Plus, we hear from other families who’ve cried out of frustration and relief. And Amanda shares why all IEP meeting tables should be round.

Click here to listen to the podcast or read episode transcript.

Back to Top