Excellence in Access and Accommodations
2020 Larine Y. Cowan Make a Difference Award
Meghan Burke is described by her nominators as a model of someone who has and continues to make a difference in the Champaign-Urbana community. With a deep commitment to real-life translations of research to practice, Dr. Burke developed the Volunteer Advocacy Project (VAP), which provides 36 hours of training to enable individuals – primarily parents – to become special education advocates for other families of children with disabilities. Her studies have extended the literature on special education advocacy and have clear and specific implications for future research, policy, and practice, leading to increased parental empowerment, improved services for individuals with disabilities, and improved quality of life for families.
In 2019 the News Gazette and Chancellor Jones highlighted Dr. Burke’s work with students in her physical disabilities and assistive technology class, who together worked to create a website, Access Urbana-Champaign, that rated 117 local restaurants as having excellent, good or limited accessibility. Under Dr. Burke’s guidance, students visited each restaurant and using a 25-item survey, rated accessibility and compliance with universal design standards. Her work with Community Choices and other local groups has also underlined her commitment to making our whole community, both university and locally based, one where all people have the opportunity for meaningful access to true participation in a community-based life.
Meghan Burke is an associate professor of special education in the College of Education. Her research interests include parent advocacy, families (i.e., parents and siblings) of individuals with disabilities, and disability policy. Meghan’s research examines how parents advocate for services for their offspring with disabilities. Additionally, Meghan conducts research examining how siblings of individuals with disabilities transition to caregiving roles. She holds a Ph.D. in Special Education-Significant Disabilities from Vanderbilt University and received the Early Career Award from the American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities in 2019.