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Center on Disability Studies (CDS) in the Pacific Basin – Pacific Basin University Center for Excellence (PBUCE)

Submitted by genesisl on Jul 19, 2017

At CDS, we have many activities, which reach beyond the State of Hawaiʻi and which take place in the US Affiliated Pacific Basin Jurisdictions focusing upon promoting and supporting the diverse abilities of individuals with disabilities.

One of the lead projects in the Pacific Basin is conducted through the Pacific Basin University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities (PBUCE). PBUCE is a unique partnership amongst University of Hawaiʻi at Manoa (UHM) - CDS, Northern Marianas College and American Samoa Community College, each serving the people with disabilities in their respective locals in Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas Islands (CNMI) and American Samoa.  The PBUCE has been in operation since the year 1993. CDS serves technical assistance unit to the two Pacific regions, with staffers at each of the sites leading the main activities.

Where are these island entities served by the PBUCE?

Many people may not know the geographic location of the CNMI or of American Samoa. The CNMI is a commonwealth of the U.S. in the Northwestern Pacific Ocean about seven hours west of Hawaiʻi, placing it closer to the Asian mainland than to the nation’s mainland. It is a chain of 15 islands, though most people live on the islands of Saipan, Tinian and Rota. American Samoa is an unincorporated territory of the U.S. in the South Pacific Ocean, about five hours south of Hawaiʻi by air. American Samoa has five main islands and two atolls.

Photo: Pacific Map

What is the goal of the PBUCE?

The PBUCE has just completed its eighth, five-year period of funding/implementation at the end of June 2017 and has been awarded a new five-year award starting July 1, 2017 and running through 2022.  The overarching goal for the next five years will be to continue to provide leadership in, advise Federal, State, and policymakers about, and promote opportunities for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, thus, supporting them to exercise self-determination, be independent, be productive, and be included in all facets of community life.  

Who to contact about the PBUCE at UHM – CDS?

The PBUCE at the UHM – CDS is conducted by Dr. Kiriko Takahashi, Principal Investigator & Director and Dr. Robert Stodden, Co-Principal Investigator. Dr. Takahashi has been Director of the PBUCE for the past year and Dr. Stodden was the originator of the PBUCE in 1993, continuing to provide technical assistance and support to the program. Questions about the current program and activities can be directed to Dr. Takahashi at

Who to contact about the PBUCE in CNMI?

The PBUCE in CNMI is also known as CNMI UCEDD or Northern Marianas College UCEDD. The Director of the CNMI UCEDD is Mr. Floyd Masga. Mr. Masga has been the Director of CNMI UCEDD since 2015. His contact is

Who to contact about the PBUCE in American Samoa?

The PBUCE in American Samoa is led by Ms. Tafaimamao Tua-Tupuola. Ms. Tupuola is the Director of American Samoa UCEDD. Ms. Tupuola has been working with the American UCEDD since 1994 and has been the Director since 1999. She can be contacted at

Photo: Kiriko Takahashi

Kiriko Takahashi is an Assistant Specialist at the Center on Disabilities Studies at the University of Hawai‘i at Manoa. She has a Master’s degree in Learning Disabilities from Northwestern University, and a Doctoral degree in Exceptionalities from the University of Hawai‘i at Manoa. Her research interests include assistive technology, culturally-based education, and mathematics.