View the strand descriptions with their corresponding topics below, or access the Plain Language Strand Descriptions document. 

01. Communities Strand

Strand Leads: Mellanie Lee (; 

Strand Co-Lead: Dr. Kelle Murphy (  

Communities offer a sense of belonging and are central to the human experience. Communities can provide: knowledge; connections; inspiration, resources; and support. An engaging community allows us to share and relate with one another and to learn and develop new ideas. The Communities strand will offer opportunities for presenters to share knowledge on the following four community areas: Autism & Neurodiversity; Deaf Community; Family Engagement; and Indigenous and Cultural Diversity.

Guiding Questions:

  • What are some best practices?
  • What are some emerging issues?
  • What are important needs of the community and how can they best be addressed?
  • How are communities responding during this COVID-19 pandemic?
  • What motivates and mobilizes people to action in communities?

Topic: Autism & Neurodiversity

In recent years, Autism Spectrum Disorder has been more frequently diagnosed. As more is learned about issues related to autism, autistic identity and Neurodiversity have gained attention. The Autism and Neurodiversity emphasis for the 2022 Pacific Rim Conference will concentrate on topics that include but are not limited to: latest research; best practices; community issues; COVID-19 related issues; behavioral issues; physical activity; motor development; health barriers and facilitators; self-advocacy; and successful navigation of transition to adulthood in the areas of employment, continuing education, relationships, and living arrangements.

Guiding Questions:

  • What are some best practices for serving and supporting autistic individuals?
  • What are some emerging issues?
  • What are important needs of the community and how can they best be addressed?
  • What motivates and mobilizes people to action in these communities?
  • How do we amplify the voices of autistic individuals and promote meaningful engagement to facilitate collaborative practices?

Topic Chairs: Kelle L. Murphy (; A. Josephine Blagrave (; Stephen Shore (; Sim Newitt (   

Topic: Deaf Community

Recognizing the diversity of deaf, hard of hearing or deaf-blind communities, the 2022 Pacific Rim Conference will concentrate on the diverse issues and interests, of and for these communities. This conference presents an opportunity for educators, researchers, service providers, community members, allies, and other stakeholders from a wide range of backgrounds to come together to share experiences, research, and pedagogical practices pursuing diversity, equity, and inclusion in the area of Deaf community. We invite topics on advocacy, American Sign Language, communication access, impacts of COVID-19, education, employment and entrepreneurship, language and culture, independent living, legal rights and issues, interpreting, inclusion and intersectionality, and family support.

Guiding Questions:

  • What are the most important interests and issues in the deaf, hard of hearing, or deaf-blind communities and how can we best work to address them? 
  • What are some cutting edge and/or innovative experiences, research, and pedagogical practices pursuing diversity, equity, and inclusion in the area of Deaf community?
  • What are the roles of educators, researchers, service providers, community members, allies, and other stakeholders from a wide range of backgrounds in these conversations?
  • How has the COVID-19 pandemic affected deaf, hard of hearing, or deaf-blind individuals specifically?

Topic Chair: Jennifer Tarnay (    

Topic: Family Engagement

Engaging with families to empower their children’s learning and development continues to be more critical now than ever. In this topic, we hope to reflect on what we have learned, what works, and what we could do better to create a sustainable future where everyone has the opportunity to reach their full potential. Schools and families have been resilient and adapted to the needs and new conditions. Partnerships with families based on mutual trust, equity, and shared responsibility have proved their worth. However, we still need to do more to support the most vulnerable groups in our schools and communities. The challenges of the last year, including social isolation, and widespread use of online and distance learning technology, have brought changes to the learning environment. To that end, we need to invest in organizations that champion systemic changes in education, environmental policy, and practice. 

This topic of the conference welcomes presentations that support and strengthen the three spheres of influence that contribute to student success: Family, School, and Community.

Family Engagement Topics:

  • What are some creative solutions to provide access to learning for ALL students: internet and computers?
  • What are some strategies to support social emotional learning and parenting during a pandemic?
  • How can families support student learning goals at home?

For Educators:

  • What training and supports do educators need to navigate this new world of family partnerships?
  • What are the best practices for communicating with families in this new learning landscape?
  • How important is it to teach using culturally and linguistically respectful/responsive materials?

For Community-Based Organizations:

  • What are some possibilities for using after-school time to continue learning?
  • How can we develop programs that nurture new relationships and skills (art, dance, theater) that are not part of the traditional academic curriculum?
  • How can we establish and sustain effective parent-leader networks in our communities?

The work of the Hawai‘i State Family Engagement Center is to promote high-impact activities and policies that build powerful partnerships among family, school, and community in order to enhance child development and student achievement. To ensure the most significant impact, we need to take a holistic approach – listening and learning to build and leverage relationships in the community and to identify and implement the most effective solution possible.

Topic Chair: Angela Matian, Ed.D. (    

Topic: Indigenous and Cultural Diversity

The Indigenous and Cultural Diversity focus area for the 2022 Pacific Rim Conference will address issues that contribute to the inclusion of diverse voices and worldviews in our communities. We hope to encourage Indigenous knowledge and culturally diverse perspectives and approaches in the areas of health, science, education, art, politics, sustainability and resiliency. We invite topics on cultural diversity, indigenous worldviews, care for land and water, issues that affect and support Indigenous communities impacted by climate change, access to education and healthcare, as well as approaches to healing, disability challenges within Indigenous communities, and legal issues that affect Indigenous peoples and their self-determination.

Guiding Questions

  • What are best practices for inclusion of cultural diversity and Indigenous Knowledge in our schools and communities?
  • How do you address barriers to sustainability and resiliency for indigenous and culturally diverse communities?
  • How can one motivate, support, mobilize and empower people to take action in Indigenous and culturally diverse communities?
  • How do we amplify the voices of Indigenous peoples (or culturally diverse populations) in our working, learning, and/or living communities?

Topic Chairs: Mellanie Lee (; Hoʻoululāhui Erika Perry  (

02. Education Strand

Strand Lead: Holly Manaseri, Ph.D. (

The Education topic strand focuses on the experiences and outcomes of people with disabilities in education. We seek proposals that address barriers to access and participation as well as innovation and success in reimagining education across early childhood education; elementary education; secondary education; higher education; and informal and alternative education and proposals that examine disability as a core component of diversity.

Topic: Higher Education, Disability, & COVID-19

The Higher Education, Disability and COVID -19 topic strand will focus on current research, challenges and topics of interest in Higher Education with a focus on the experience of students with disabilities, work in access and inclusion, and COVID-19 recovery. We welcome topics that will promote improved practices in Higher Education including COVID-19 recovery efforts. Topics can also include research that improves transition, innovative Higher Education programing, faculty and staff training to increase access and inclusion, and support for students with disabilities. 

Guiding Questions:

  • In what ways has transition to higher education been reimagined under current pandemic conditions?
  • How have COVID-19 restrictions impacted students with disabilities in college and university settings?
  • How has online learning democratized access to higher education?

Topic Chairs: Holly Manaseri, Ph.D. (; Christina Keaulana, Ph.D. (

Topic: PreK-12 Education, Disability, COVID-19

The PreK-12 Education, Disability, COVID-19 topic will focus on current research, challenges, and topics of interest in PreK-12 education with a focus on disability students, inclusion, and COVID-19 recovery. We welcome topics that will promote improved pedagogical practices in PreK through 12th grade, including COVID-19 recovery efforts. Topics can also include research that improves the understanding of PreK-12th grade inclusion practices and supports for students with disabilities. 

Guiding Questions:

  • What best practices or pedagogical advancements will improve educational outcomes for PreK through 12th grade students with and without disabilities?
  • What tools and strategies can teachers and schools use to aid in COVID-19 recovery efforts?
  • How has the shift in educational environment and student needs during the COVID-19 pandemic informed and transformed pedagogical practices?

Topic Chairs: Robyn Rice (; Jerica Mānoa (

Topic: Social-Emotional Learning

The past year raised important questions about the overall well-being of youth and adults across academic, community, and home settings. This strand explores the practices and strategies needed to cultivate healthy social-emotional skills across different environments. We welcome topics that focus on the core values of the Nā Hopena A‘o (HĀ) BREATH framework: Belonging, Responsibility, Excellence, Aloha, Total Well-Being, and Hawai‘i (a sense of place), which are universal across all cultures. 

Guiding Questions

  • In what ways are schools, communities, and families facilitating the integration of social-emotional learning (SEL) through mindsets, actions, and practices? 
  • How are we addressing the socio/economic gaps in providing services and supports to vulnerable youth and adults?
  • How can we leverage youth and adults’ strengths, identities, interests, and experiences to promote and/or enhance SEL?

Topic Chairs: Sara Banks (

03. Employment & Career Strand

Strand Lead: Ronald Deese (

The Employment and Career Strand represents the progress of workers with disabilities in finding inclusion and success. We must mobilize to combat the challenges and seize the opportunities of a turbulent global economy. Strand topics will include Accessibility and Employment issues, COVID-19 and Employment, Innovations and Challenges in Workforce Development, and the Postsecondary Transition to Employment.

Topic: Accessibility & Accommodation Issues

To create an equitable and inclusive workplace for people with disabilities, having accessible technology and accommodations is essential. Typically, many employers are not aware of what is required to make their workplace an accessible environment and believe the issue will require extensive changes and costs. This topic area will explore how best practices are used, what is required to meet accessibility and accommodation regulations and most importantly, why people with disabilities and employers can benefit from these changes for a productive workplace.

Topic Chairs: Adam Tanners (; Tom Conway (

Topic: COVID-19 and Employment Issues

COVID-19 has radically changed the workplace. Organizations have had to become flexible, offer work-from-home options, and change the way that business is done. COVID-19 has proved that work can be productive, even when from the home office. Organizational learning is also shifting to e-learning, and work is conducted even if children are at home, learning remotely. There are gains in these shifts that relate to disability – it can be easier than ever to work for some types of disabilities. And for others, there are particular issues. 

Guiding Questions:

  • What are some best practices in setting up home offices for people with disabilities?
  • How can people with disabilities best utilize the tools of Zoom and video software to complement their disabilities? How to navigate access?
  • How can parents with disabilities best handle working from home?
  • What are some of the ways to best implement accessible organizational e-learning?
  • What about people with Intellectual Disabilities and their access to virtual work? 
  • How do we help people with disabilities who do not have access to virtual work?
  • What are other emerging issues related to COVID-19 and employment?

Topic Chair: Meriah Nichols (

Topic: Innovations and Challenges in Workforce Development

Workforce development programs bridge the gap between jobseekers and employers. These efforts are undermined by challenges in training, transportation, disability benefits, and other areas. Each workforce development professional adds to the foundation of a new career with innovative strategies for promoting job readiness, hiring, job retention, career advancement, and entrepreneurship. 

Guiding Questions:

  • What innovative strategies have been used to overcome barriers to employment for people with disabilities?
  • How can programs build strong relationships with employers?
  • What can we learn from workforce development programs in other states and countries?
  • How can the goals of workforce development move beyond job placement into supporting the development of a lifelong career?

Topic Chair: Ronald Deese (

Topic: Postsecondary Transition to Employment

As students and transition-age youth (age 16-25) with disabilities move from school to adulthood, we must do everything we can to provide them with the information, services, and supports they need to prepare for future employment and being able to support oneself. Supports may be needed in the areas of education, vocational training, income supports, health insurance coverage, health care, transportation, life skills, housing, etc. What is and isn’t working in employment preparation and retention for youth with disabilities in the workplace? What are some of the typical employment preparation pathways accessed by youth with disabilities? What are examples of positive ways Workforce Development groups have included youth with disabilities into their plans and into their programs – failures and successes?

Topic Chairs: Lisa-Marie Eng (; Jared Galeai (

04. Health & Well-being Strand

Strand Lead: Naomi Rombaoa Tanaka (

In light of recent events in our nation and across the world, health and well-being are more important than ever. Much more intricate than the absence of disease or “dis” ease, well-being includes the presence of positive multifaceted factors including physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health. This strand provides opportunities for presenters to share knowledge in the following three areas: Disability and Health; Mental and Emotional Health & COVID-19; and Well-being and Flourishing. We welcome presentations that build skills, share best practices, encourage innovation, create safe spaces for engaging dialogue, and/or bridge research and practice.

Guiding Questions:

  • How can we collectively build health and well-being?
  • How are important issues around disability and health being creatively addressed?
  • How has COVID-19 impacted personal and collective mental and emotional health and what supports are available for these emerging needs?
  • What are innovative ways to support well-being and flourishing for all?

Topic: Disability and Health

There are many challenges and obstacles that impact the access and provision of quality health services for those with disabilities. Recently, people with disabilities often faced extra barriers, such as the lockdowns and quarantine requirements that disrupted their support and access to care. We welcome presentations that explore the systematic ways of identifying challenges and obstacles. Additionally, we welcome presentations that explore ways of advocating for timely and appropriate reduction or removal of obstacles and challenges that impact personal and collective access and provision of health care services to those with disabilities. We are also looking for presentations that  address how tele-health care can be effectively promoted for people with disabilities as well as their caregivers and service providers.

Topic Chairs: Ray Miner (; Jeffrey Okamoto (

Topic: Mental and Emotional Health & COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic has greatly increased the mental and emotional distress of many people. A big factor is the social isolation that comes with lockdowns and quarantine requirements. People with disabilities often face extra challenges due to disruptions in their supports and access to care. We welcome presentations that explore how COVID-19 has impacted personal and collective mental and emotional health, and how better health can be effectively promoted, for people with disabilities as well as caregivers and service providers.

Topic Chairs: David Leake (; Matthew Wappett (

Topic: Well-being and Flourishing

Flourishing is about discovering a deep sense of well-being, essential to thriving during these uncertain and stressful times. More than just happiness, the elements of positive emotions, engagement or flow, relationships, meaning, and accomplishment are each important on their own but in combination create personal well-being. The Well-being and Flourishing topic welcomes presentations that highlight best practices, research, and innovative ideas around human flourishing and well-being at the intrapersonal, interpersonal, community, or global level.

Topic Chairs: Naomi Rombaoa Tanaka (; Teri Lewis (

05. Disability Studies & Diversity Issues Strand

Strand Lead: Dr. Raphael Raphael (

What is disability? How do the ways we as cultures answer this question impact access and equity? This strand invites contributions to the rich, diverse conversations that make up the interdisciplinary dialog of Disability Studies and Diversity Issues. The strand provides an exciting forum to explore some of the central questions animating Disability studies and inquiries into diversity issues. Identified topics this year include: Disasters and Emergency Preparedness; Disability Policy; Creativity, Media & the Arts; and Disability Studies & Intersectionality. 

Topic: Disasters and Emergency Preparedness

Trust, inclusion, cultural communication, and collaboration are the pillars of culturally-inclusive disaster planning. With the increase of hazard severities, COVID-19, climate change, and social inequalities, the need to Build a Culture of Preparedness is needed more than ever. This topic seeks innovative proposals that amplify disability- and diversity-voices, identify needs, and develop strategic approaches and mitigation tools to use before, during, and after a disaster.

Be a part of the solution to Mobilize for Action! Submit your proposal that embodies all four pillars and connects practitioners, advocates, researchers, academics and students in building a culture of preparedness.

Guided Questions:

  • How do we mobilize and build a culture of preparedness within academia, research, and practice?
  • How do we improve culturally-inclusive mitigation strategies for COVID-19? 
  • How do we enhance resilience activities that support local practices and successes?
  • How do we implement holistic solutions that are responsive to social inequalities?
  • How do we lead change to rebuild a whole community?

Topic Chairs: Genesis Leong (; Tafa Tua-Tupuola (

Topic: Disability Policy and Advocacy

Policy suggests, guides, and mandates desired societal change. Advocacy plays a substantial and direct role in bringing about such change. In this topic we are soliciting presentations that do one of two things or both: 1) describes how to be an effective advocate for any desired change or 2) describes a case study in which advocacy resulted in a desired change in policy. 

  • In the first case, you would provide examples of how you trained potential advocates in such things as outreach, organizing, prioritizing, messaging, and promoting both in person and through social media. 
  • In the second case, you would provide examples of what resulted from advocacy efforts and describe in detail the impact. For example, a case study could be the rationale for, explanation, timing, and consequences of new legislation or amendments to existing law, additions to or changes in agency guidelines, or creation of work groups to implement desired change. 

We welcome presentations about any content or context. However, we will accept presentations that will most likely allow the audience to leave with confidence that they too, if they use what you have outlined, can bring about desired change, change that leads to more inclusive communities for individuals with disabilities.

Topic Chairs: Patricia Morrissey, Ph.D. (; Daintry Bartoldus (

Topic: Creativity, Media & the Arts

The discipline of disability studies has decentered traditional models of who gets to say what disability “means.” The greater attention given to individual voices gives us an invitation to look at the unique ways different people use expressive art and media to tell their own stories of disability, to help shape cultural meanings of disability and to express their own unique embodied experiences. This topic area invites artistic work in all forms: visual, spoken word, dance, performance, including short film stories, e.g., TikToks, that participate in exploring what disability means in our lives.

Topic Chairs: Annie Moriyasu (; Raphael Raphael (

Topic: Disability Studies & Intersectionality

In recent years, intersectionality has moved from academia to the mainstream. This concept, which initially emerged out of Black feminist thought, is a powerful tool that illuminates multilayered forms of inequality. Various forces like racism, sexism, classism, heteronormativity, transphobia, ageism, and xenophobia simultaneously intersect with ableism in ways that have profound effects on the lives of people with disabilities. Intersectionality also challenges us to think about power writ large and the ways that interlocking social categories like race, gender, class, sexuality, and disability among others uphold larger systems of privilege and oppression in society.

Because of the broad applicability of intersectionality to any number of issues, particularly in an interdisciplinary field like Disability Studies, we welcome presentations that take a critical intersectional approach to a wide range of disability-related topics. Presenters might consider questions like: 

  • How do people with disabilities experience and navigate intersectionality in their daily lives? 
  • In what ways might intersectionality complicate experiences of disability or, conversely, provide opportunities to create solidarity and community to challenge injustice? 

Presenters could also hone in on specific issues by asking: 

  • What do we learn from intersectional analyses of disability in terms of accessibility, healthcare, education, employment, citizenship, and human rights in the past or the present? 
  • How does an intersectional approach add greater complexity to our understanding of disability representations in film, television, literature, news media, and popular culture? 

Finally, presenters might examine and assess the role of this influential theory within Disability Studies by asking: 

  • How does intersectionality enrich and expand the field? 
  • Does a more nuanced intersectional understanding of disability challenge conventional ideas of diversity and inclusion?
  • Does intersectionality help bridge theory and praxis, academia and activism?

Topic Chair: Jenifer Barclay (