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Special education department professors receive international award for their disability research

Monday, November 10, 2014

LAWRENCE — After decades serving as advocates for individuals with disabilities, including their families and service providers, professors Rud and Ann Turnbull of the Department of Special Education at the University of Kansas received the Prince Salman Award for Disability Research in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, on Oct. 20. The award is conferred by the Prince Salman Center for Disability Research and honors internationally recognized scholars dedicated to the issue of disability and persons with disabilities. The center is founded with a mission to improve the quality of life for the disabled through the center’s research excellence and global impact.

“It’s an honor to receive this award,” said Rud Turnbull. “Ann and I are humbled by the notion that our work has impacted families and professionals so far from Kansas.”  

Elizabeth Kozleski, chair of the Department of Special Education at KU, joined the Turnbulls and KU Professor Emeritus and former Life Span Institute Director Stephen Schroeder and his wife, Carolyn Schroeder, adjunct professor of applied behavioral science, in Saudi Arabia as the Prince Salman Award for Disability Research was presented to them.  Stephen Schroeder served as the director of the Prince Salman Center for more than a year after retiring from KU.

“This award underscores the international stature of the research on families that the Turnsbulls have produced over their careers,” Kozleski said.

The Turnbulls accepted the award as one of the highlights of the Fourth International Conference on Disability & Rehabilitation, Oct. 19-21 in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.  The conference covered a broad spectrum of topics including: medical research, educational advances, social and psychological developments, and practical strategies for rehabilitation, training and employment of persons with disabilities. 

“Our work focuses on expanding the capacity of communities and families to embrace each of its members," Ann Turnbull said. "Bringing this message to Saudi Arabia was exciting.”

At its origin, the award was initiated by Prince Sultan bin Salman bin Abdulaziz, chairman of the board of the center. He has monitored the award’s various stages of development and sponsored the process of its establishment. Prince Sultan bin Salman bin Abdulaziz was keen to stimulate the process of scientific research in the disability field locally, regionally, and internationally, as the most effective means for the prevention and minimization of the effects of disabilities.