Gatlinburg Conference draws 430 experts in IDD research from around the world

The Gatlinburg Conference kicked off with a panel on inclusive communication in research, which helped set the tone for the 56th annual event from April 17-19 in Kansas City, Mo. More than 430 behavioral scientists from the U.S. and around the world attended the workshops, lectures and sessions focused on intellectual and developmental disability research. 

"A large crowd mingles in a ballroom during a large poster presentation"

During the panel session “Everybody Belongs: Science Communication” on the first day of the conference, speakers focused much of the conversation on language accessibility. The need for scientists to avoid technical terms and use inclusive language when speaking with public audiences was connected to goals of advancing disability policy, improving research outcomes, and building public trust. 

Liz Weintraub, senior advocacy specialist at the Association of University Centers on Disabilities (AUCD), was part of the panel. Weintraub hosts the YouTube show, “Tuesdays with Liz,” a video series that highlights current issues in disability policy.  

"A woman seated and holding a microphone speaks with others next to her at a panel discussion"

“If you want us to be at the table, which I think you all would do, and we really do appreciate it, then we need to understand what's going on,” Weintraub said. Later, she added, “Don’t just say, you’re at the table, but then all talk in big words.” 

The conference featured dozens of opportunities for researchers to learn more about  digital assessments for youth, applications of genetic research, discoveries in neurodevelopment, improving early identification of IDD conditions, behavioral interventions, social justice, increasing diversity in research study recruitment, and more.  

More information on the Gatlinburg Conference can be found online. The KU Life Span Institute and partners will host the 2025 conference in San Diego.