Michael Wehmeyer

Professor, Department of Special EducationExecutive Director, Kansas University Center on Developmental DisabilitiesSenior Scientist, Beach Center on Disability
Joseph R. Pearson Hall

Michael L. Wehmeyer, Ph.D. is Professor of Special Education; Director, Kansas University Center on Developmental Disabilities; and Associate Director, Beach Center on Disability, all at the University of Kansas. Dr. Wehmeyer has directed federally funded projects totaling in excess of $27 million conducting research and model development pertaining to the education and support of youth and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. He is the author or co-author of 285 peer-reviewed journal articles or book chapters and has authored, co-authored, edited, or co-edited 32 books on disability and education related issues, including issues pertaining to self-determination, positive psychology, transition to adulthood, the education and inclusion of students with severe disabilities, and technology use by people with cognitive disabilities. He is co-author of the widely used textbook Exceptional Lives: Special Education in Today’s Schools, published by Merrill/Prentice Hall, now in its 7th Edition. His recent books include The Story of Intellectual Disability: An Evolution of Meaning, Understanding, and Public Perception (2013, Paul H. Brookes Publishing Co.); and The Oxford Handbook of Positive Psychology and Disability (2013, Oxford University Press). Dr. Wehmeyer is Past-President of the Board of Directors for and a Fellow of AAIDD; a past president of the Council for Exceptional Children’s Division on Career Development and Transition (DCDT); a Fellow of the American Psychological Association (APA), Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Division (Div. 33); and Vice-President for the Americas and a Fellow of the International Association for the Scientific Study of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (IASSIDD). He is a member of Phi Beta Delta Honor Society for International Scholars-Alpha Pi chapter (University of Kansas) and Phi Beta Kappa Arts and Sciences Honor Society-Beta of Oklahoma chapter (University of Tulsa). He is former Editor-in-Chief of the journal Remedial and Special Education and is a founding Co-Editor of the AAIDD journal Inclusion. He is a co-author of the AAIDD Supports Intensity Scale, and the 2010 AAIDD Intellectual Disability Terminology, Classification, and Systems of Supports Manual. In 1999 Dr. Wehmeyer was the inaugural recipient of the Distinguished Early Career Research Award from the Council for Exceptional Children’s Division for Research, and he has received research awards from CEC’s Division on Autism and Developmental Disabilities and Division on Career Development and Transition, Region V of the AAIDD, the Kansas Federation of CEC, and the University of Kansas School of Education, as well as receiving the 2003 AAIDD National Education award. From 2010 to 2011, Dr. Wehmeyer was the Gene A. Budig Teaching Professor in Special Education in the Department of Special Education at the University of Kansas. In 2013, Dr. Wehmeyer was awarded the Distinguished Researcher Award for lifetime contributions to research in intellectual disability by The Arc of the United States. Dr. Wehmeyer holds undergraduate and Masters degrees in special education from the University of Tulsa and a Masters degree in experimental psychology from the University of Sussex in Brighton, England, where he was a Rotary International Fellow. He earned his Ph.D. in Human Development and Communication Sciences from the University of Texas at Dallas.

Academic Degrees

  • Ph.D., Human Development & Communication Sciences, University of Texas at Dallas, Richardson, Texas, 1989
  • M.S., Experimental Psychology, University of Sussex, Brighton England, 1988
  • M.A., Communicative Disorders, University of Tulsa, Tulsa, Oklahoma, 1982
  • B.S., Communicative Disorders, University of Tulsa, Tulsa, Oklahoma, 1980


Self-determination, education of students with intellectual/developmental disabilities, access to the general curriculum for students with significant disabilities, and technology use and people with intellectual disabilities.

Kansas Teacher Service Scholarship

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Special Education Events
Aug 21
KU Teaching Summit
08:30 am
Aug 21
Special Education Master's Orientation
05:00 pm
Aug 21
New Student Orientation
05:00 pm
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Rud and Ann Turnbull say that their best teacher who shaped their understanding of the importance of working with families was their beloved son Jay. Will you all join me in celebrating this occasion by listening to Rud talk about working with families: http://mn.gov/mnddc/rud-turnbull/rud-turnbull-14.html . The Department and the Beach Center are members of your family – we look forward to the many ways that we will, together with you, continue to forge paths forward for human rights…

#1 public program in nation for special education
—U.S. News & World Report
2nd nationwide for most published journal articles in special education
Wayne Sailor directs KU’s largest grant, the $24.5 million SWIFT project, to develop a national center to assist schools
A $2.5 million grant will fund research on reasons effective technology tools are underused for students with disabilities