About the Beach Center on Disability

About the Beach Center on Disability


Mission Statement

The Beach Center on Disability focuses research, training, and advocacy on promoting abilities of people of all ages who experience disability, in order to assure a self-determined, goal-driven, and self-selected quality of life within communities where everyone lives.


The Beach Center on Disability, one of 15 centers within Life Span Institute (LSI) at the University of Kansas (KU), is a multidisciplinary research and training center committed to making a significant and sustainable positive difference in the quality of life of individuals and their families impacted by disability and the professionals who support them. Centers located within the Beach Center include Kansas Positive Behavior Support (KIPBS), Transition Coalition, and Comprehensive, Integrated, Three-Tiered Models of Prevention (Ci3T).

Beach Center Investigators are affiliated with KU's Department of Special Education, School of Education, but work with a number of other professionals in disciplines such as Psychology, Social Work, Speech and Language, Vocational Rehabilitation, and Occupational Therapy.

Our center was founded in 1988 by Rud and Ann Turnbull, then faculty members in Special Education, to conduct research and carry out training and technical assistance. Over the years, Beach Center employees have provided international, national, state, regional, and local leadership and service in collaboration with individuals with disabilities, their families, community members, professionals, and policy leaders.


Donors and Friends,

If you have profited from visiting our website or from any work we have done, you can help us benefit others by supporting the Beach Center.

You may donate to the Jay Turnbull Fellowship for the benefit of Beach Center graduate students and staff by sending funds directly to the Beach Center (attention: Barbara Miller) or to the Kansas University Endowment Association. More than 250 individuals have contributed nearly $60,000 to honor the man who inspired his parents, Rud and Ann, to create the Beach Center.

Our benefactors include the late Marianna and Ross Beach and their family, the family of Julie and Scott Borchardt, and the family of Betsy Santelli.

Your contribution, without regard to its amount, will make it possible for us to continue to do our research and then use it to make a difference for families and people affected by disability.



Michael Wehmeyer, Ph.D., is the Director of the Beach Center on Disability, the Ross and Marianna Beach Distinguished Professor in Special Education, Chairperson of the Department of Special Education, and a senior scientist in the Life Span Institute (within which the Beach Center is located). He is an internationally known scholar in the areas of self-determination, the application of positive psychology to the disability context, and conceptualizing and understanding intellectual disability. Michael lectures extensively in the United States and abroad on these topics and has published more than 225 articles, 150 book chapters, and 40 books on these topics. Dr. Wehmeyer holds degrees from University of Tulsa, the University of Sussex in Great Britain, and the University of Texas at Dallas. He taught adolescents with extensive support needs in school districts in Texas and Oklahoma and was an associate director of the Research and Program Services department at The Arc of the United States before coming to KU in 1999.


Jay Turnbull

Marianna and Ross Beach

Eloisa Maria Garcia Etcheberren deLorenzo

We celebrate the memory of the late Ross and Marianna Beach, friends and generous founding benefactors, and acknowledge work of the late Eloisa Maria Garcia Etcheberren deLorenzo, an international leader in the field of disability. Last but not least, we honor the memory and inspiration of Jay Turnbull (JT), a long-time employee and son of the Turnbulls, who was our best teacher through practical and mindful experience.