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Susan B. Palmer, PhD

Vice President
Susan Palmer photo

Susan B. Palmer, Ph.D. is a Research Professor at the Beach Center on Disability and the Kansas University Center on Developmental Disabilities both within the Schiefelbusch Institute of Life Span Studies at the University of Kansas (KU) in Lawrence.   She is also affiliated with the Department of Special Education at KU assisting graduate students with thesis and dissertation research related to individuals with disabilities.  Dr. Palmer has been involved with research about the effects of intellectual and developmental disabilities on people’s lives for the last 20 years.  She worked with young children with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families within Early Intervention services in Texas for five years before becoming a researcher.  Dr. Palmer was an educational researcher at The Arc of the United States in Arlington, Texas before the national office was relocated to the Washington DC area in 1999.  She is an AAIDD Fellow, past-president of AAIDD’s Education Division, and was very active in Kansas AAIDD, Technology special interest group, and Region V for many years. 

Dr. Palmer received a Bachelor’s degree in Education from Pennsylvania State University, has a Master’s degree in Reading Disabilities from the College of New Rochelle (NY), and a Master’s degree in special education from the University of Texas at Dallas.  Her doctorate is also from the University of Texas at Dallas in Human Development and Communication Studies, focusing on cognitive and social developmental psychology and disorders of learning (special education). 

Susan Palmer has authored or co-authored numerous articles, book chapters, monographs, and other materials to support individuals with disabilities to become more self-determined or to access the general education curriculum for students between the ages of 3 and 21 years.  Her preferred dissemination task is to work on projects of knowledge translation, so that academic writing, study results, and research findings are available for multiple audiences, especially families and teachers. She has either directed or been involved with numerous federally funded research projects throughout the last 20 years.  For the last ten years, Dr. Palmer has also been a Co-Principal Investigator on grants related to curriculum support for young children with disabilities or at-risk for delay in inclusive classrooms. She has also written extensively on the topic of the development of self-determination throughout the lifespan.  This includes environmental factors that encourage young people with various disabilities and their families to become more aware of the need to create opportunities and solicit supports, if appropriate, to work on aspects of self-determination.  The eventual outcome can be inclusion in a chosen community, positive adult outcomes, and experiencing a desired quality of life.