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Advocating for ability rights: Angela Tomlin, PhD, and Stephan Viehweg, MSW, speak about their work


Angela Tomlin, PhD, and Stephan Viehweg, MSW, are motivated to transform health care access for people with disabilities. Both nationally and internationally renowned for their impact on health disparities, Tomlin and Viehweg work with patients and advocates to positively change health care.

TomlinFor Tomlin, growing up with a paternal uncle who had severe intellectual disabilities and seeing her grandmother struggle to access services for him, inspired her to pursue a career advocating for ability rights and training physicians to support people with Neurodevelopmental Disabilities.

As the Director of the Riley Child Development Center Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities (LEND), Tomlin achieves just that. LEND is Indiana University’s interdisciplinary leadership training program focused on preparing health care professionals to provide family-centered evidence-based services, conduct research and evaluation, offer technical assistance and training, and participate in advocacy activities.

Tomlin provides clinical services to families with children with neurodevelopmental disabilities, supervises graduate trainees, and is a frequent presenter on topics including autism, behavior management and infant mental health.

Being a native Hoosier, Tomlin was instantly drawn to IU School of Medicine. Her desire to work in an academic environment, teach, and participate in scholarship and research has been achieved here. She states, “Colleagues here are amazing, we get outstanding students and opportunities to work with others around the country.”

Remarking on what motivates her to continue her work on intellectual abilities at IU School of Medicine, Tomlin stated, “We have a great team here and good partnerships with our state agencies and advocacy organizations. Recently, through our national organization, I have been exposed to many adults with various disabilities who have incredible skills, make huge contributions, and who are able to advocate for themselves and others.”

Viehweg is also heavily involved in LEND along with being an associate director of the Riley Child Development Center and associate director of the IUPUI Center for Translating Research into Practice.

ViehwegHis passion to advocate for ability rights stems from his belief that “everyone has abilities and contributes to our life experiences.” To further this point, Viehweg explained, “I also see that anything that is good for people with differing abilities, is good for everyone. Consider curb cuts for example. While designed for people who use wheelchairs, curb cuts are pretty convenient and helpful for people pushing strollers or a cart with boxes, etc. There are many examples like that to illustrate this point.”

Viehweg’s passion for working with children brought him to IU School of Medicine thirty years ago. When asked about what motivates him to continue his work, Viehweg said, “I enjoy the support of a department that continually encourages me to pursue improved systems and services for very young children with social-emotional difficulties. This school allows me to pursue teaching, research, community service and more.”

On Thursday, January 23, 2020, Tomlin and Viehweg, will be discussing their work on ability rights at the Cultural Awareness Town Hall. Attendees will learn how to support people with disabilities, develop a curiosity in interdisciplinary approaches and family-centered care, and explore the LEND program for possible training experiences.

Child Develpment In The Department Of Pediatrics At The Iu Schoo

Andrew Boughner, Self-Advocate LEND Trainee, presents a poster on: People with Autism and Employment

Child Develpment In The Department Of Pediatrics At The Iu Schoo

Stacie Garland, MA, Special Education Trainee, presents a poster on: Auditory Processing Disorder in Pediatric Patients

Interested in learning more? Join Angela Tomlin, PhD and Stephan Viehweg, MSW, in a collaborative conversation over lunch on Thursday, January 23, 2020. Faculty, learners and staff, as well as the broader community, are invited to register for this event.

The views expressed in this content represent the perspective and opinions of the author and may or may not represent the position of Indiana University School of Medicine.

Madison Pershing

Madison Pershing is a Marketing and Communications Assistant for Indiana University School of Medicine’s Faculty Affairs, Professional Development, and Diversity.