Counseling, Educational Psychology and Research - College of Education, Health and Human Sciences College of Education, Health and Human Sciences Counseling, Educational Psychology and Research


Dr. Chrisann Schiro-Geist
Director / Professor

Maurice Williams MA
Administrative Operations Director


University of Memphis Institute on Disability

The University of Memphis Institute on Disability (UMID), in alliance with The Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law has formed The Partnership in Disability Studies to assist people with physical and developmental disabilities find meaningful and lasting employment. Our vision is to form alliances with government, private, academic and legal entities to research and develop programs which encourage people with disabilities to pursue a higher education toward graduation and employment.

Top Level Administrative Support

The Institute on Disability provides top level administrative support with teams headed by the Vice Provost for Academic Affairs and the Dean of the Law School. Teams include administrative support, clinical direction and Masters Degree level clinical associates.

Expert Evaluation & Consultation

To accomplish this vision the Alliance will use the theoretical model of a Systems Approach to evaluate participants. The Systems Approach to Placement was created in the early 1980's by Dr. Chrisann Schiro-Geist and her co-author, Dr. William Calzaretta in their book, Placement Handbook for Counseling Persons with Disabilities. In this theoretical model, there must be a systematic review of several important domains that affect the ability of anyone who wants to work competitively. In addition, issues related to the impairment, social aspects of disability, family systems and accommodations to the world of work, are assessed. Using this systematic evaluation, an individual plan is created to help the person with the disability move towards competitive employment.

Research & Evidence


The L.A.D.D.E.R. project (Learning and Achievement to Decrease Dependency through Education and Rehabilitation) is a joint program between the Institute on Disability and the Shelby County Division of Correction. Its purpose is to examine and implement a systems approach to vocational rehabilitation which affects offender employment and individual recidivism.

S.T.E.M. Grant

The Institute on Disability has submitted a grant proposal to the National Science Foundation Alliance for Students with Disabilities. The grant will provide support to students with disabilities to explore opportunities of majoring and developing careers in the science, technology, engineering and math disciplines. This partnership between University of Memphis Institute on Disability (UMID), and LeMoyne-Owen College will facilitate and foster connections with employers to create positive connections for students to enter promising careers after pursuing their secondary educational goals.


COM*PASS (The Career Opportunities in Memphis to Promote Achievement through Self Sufficiency) was developed to provide meaningful, training-rich employment settings for low-income youth in the Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP). Now the Institute seeks to promote opportunities to provide COM*PASS through partnerships with the City of Memphis Youth Employment, Workforce Investment Network (WIN) and the Memphis Tourism Education Foundation: the philanthropic arm of the Memphis Convention and Visitors Bureau (MCVB). The Institute provides advocacy through training, seminars and career guidance, which is provided to enhance career development and reduce highly dysfunctional career thoughts.

Systems Approach

The Systems Approach to Placement was created in the early 1980's by Dr. Chrisann Schiro-Geist and her co-author Dr. William Calzaretta in their book, Placement Handbook for Counseling Persons with Disabilities. This approach offers a systematic review of the domains which affect people with disabilities to help them move toward competitive employment.

Building Partnerships

The Institute on Disability is a clearing house for resources and services for persons with disabilities to transition toward employment. The Institute proactively develops partnerships with academic, social welfare, government, business, non-profits and all other organizations that seek to promote employment opportunities for people with disabilities.


We serve as an advocate on behalf of people with disabilities in the educational arena, secondary and post-secondary to help facilitate successful transitions between the two formal educational settings to promote success with students that have disabilities. The Institute also serves as an advocate for people with disabilities to provide assessment, evaluation and placement of clients recently released from local penal systems. Advocacy helps promote reentry into society and assists them in developing skills that will enhance opportunities for meaningful employment while reinforcing life skills that decrease recidivism.

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Last Updated: 6/11/14