Interview with Ann Turnbull
Produced by the Minnesota Governor's Council on Developmental Disabilities
Dr. Ann Turnbull has been a professor, teacher, researcher, and advocate for individuals with disabilities, their families, and service providers for four decades. She is co-founder of the Beach Center on Disability and Professor Emerita at the University of Kansas. She has served as Principal Investigator for more than 25 federally funded research projects; authored 34 books, including two textbooks in the field of special education, and more than 340 articles; and held leadership positions on more than 50 boards of national organizations.
She is the parent of three children, one of whom, Jay (1967-2009), had multiple disabilities. In large part, what the Turnbull family learned from and about Jay influenced Ann’s research that continues today and has withstood the test of time. Through trial and error, and taking advantage of multiple grant opportunities and other research studies, Jay had what his family most wanted him to have – a dignified and “enviable life.”
In 1988, Ann began her research on family quality of life with a focus on maternal characteristics. The initial research study included 33 focus groups of families with children with disabilities and without disabilities, and 34 interviews with non-English speaking families. A national survey was then designed and conducted in seven states with 500 families of children with disabilities. From that survey, a definition of family quality of life was created along with a Family Quality of Life Framework consisting of five domains and 25 indicators.
Professor Turnbull is recognized as a leading family researcher on the topics of family support, family quality of life, family-professional partnerships, and community inclusion. She is a visionary whose writings are human interest stories that reflect real, authentic life.