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Institute for Disability Studies Self-Advocate Recognized Nationally

Mon, 12/14/2015 - 10:54am | By: Alma Ellis

Antonio "Tony" Norwood

Like most young adults, Antonio “Tony” Norwood is making plans for his future. He is deciding what courses to take in college, how to get his driver's license, and what he wants to do for a career.

What sets Norwood apart is that he has made a major effort to be a self-advocate to promote opportunities for others with disabilities. Norwood said his personal growth has helped him with his service to others, “I have learned to become a better person, how to find my voice, and how to stand up for myself and others.”

In November, Norwood reached two milestones in his life that many may never obtain. He attended his first national conference, the Association for University Centers on Disabilities (AUCD) annual conference in Washington, D.C., where he co-accepted a national award recognizing the Institute for Disability Studies' advisory council, the Community Partnership Advisory Council. The trip actually included several firsts for Norwood: his first time to fly, his first trip to Washington, D.C. and his first time to speak to an audience of several hundred people.

The second milestone is related to the AUCD network of people, with and without disabilities, who are passionate about growing the next generation of leaders and driving positive change for people with disabilities and their families. At the conference, AUCD released its 2015 annual report that highlighted six people who exemplify what it means to be an AUCD member. Their stories of leadership, scholarship, teaching, research, family, and personal achievement represent just a small sampling of the many activities of the $650 million AUCD network of centers and programs across the country.

Norwood was one of six people recognized for his efforts which included his service through the TRIAD Service AmeriCorps Program, his leadership through STEP UP to Leadership Council and his self-advocacy work in sharing his story to inspire others. Mississippi's self-advocate and disability networks were well represented through Tony's featured story in this national report.

“Through my work with youth and young adults at IDS, I have witnessed Tony's journey to greater independence. I have seen firsthand how he has blossomed, gained confidence and become a young adult self-advocate leader,” said Dr. Jerry R. Alliston, community education director at the Institute for Disability Studies (IDS). “Not only is he reaching his dreams, but he is giving back by sharing his story to inspire other young adults to reach their dreams as well.  That is a foundation message we promote in all our programs and services.”

The AUCD annual report is electronically published and is featured on their website at For more information about IDS or any of the programs discussed, please contact Dr. Jerry R. Alliston at or 601.266.5979 or visit the IDS  website at

IDS has been located at Southern Miss for almost 40 years and has satellite offices on the Southern Miss Gulf Park campus in Long Beach and in Jackson. IDS provides pre-service training, community services and technical assistance programs for individuals with disabilities of all ages and their families. IDS' areas of emphasis include education and early intervention, housing, health, recreation and assistive technology.