AHEAD 2016: Preconference Institutes

Conference Registration


Preconference Institutes provide opportunities for attendees to participate in intensive, topic-specific, workshop-style events taught by notable and well-respected experts in their fields. Ranging from 3 1/2 hours to two full-days, the Institutes are an outstanding chance for Conference attendees to receive in-depth professional development.

Preconference Institutes require advance registration by July 1, 2016 and an additional tuition fee (separate from the Conference registration fee). On-site registration for Preconference Institutes is not available. Registration for Preconference Institutes includes all instructional materials and refreshment breaks. Meals, housing, and travel are not included. Please see the registration form for applicable tuition charges.


Two-Day Preconference Institutes
Monday July 11, AND Tuesday July 12, 2016 9:00 am-5:30 pm each day (6.5 hours of direct instruction each day)

Full-Day Preconference Institutes
Monday, July 11, 2016 9:00 am – 5:30 pm (6.5 hours of direct instructional hours)

Full-Day Preconference Institutes
Tuesday July 12, 2016 9:00 am-5:30 pm (6.5 hours direct instructional hours)

Half-Day Preconference Institute
Tuesday July 12, 2016 9:00 am-12:30 pm (3.25 hours direct instructional hours)

Half-Day Preconference Institute
Tuesday July 12, 2016 2:00 pm-5:30 pm (3.25 hours direct instructional hours)


Two-Day Preconference Institutes 
Monday July 11, AND Tuesday July 12, 2016, 9:00 am-5:30 pm each day



#PC 1 AHEAD Start: Setting the Landscape for New Professionals

Carol Funckes–AHEAD


This two-day Preconference Institute is designed to offer new disability resource professionals a comprehensive overview of the major issues that shape access in higher education today. In the dynamic postsecondary environment, the disability service office must be not only a student service unit but a vital center of information, collaboration, and leadership for all members of the campus community. Disability resource professionals must balance their work in determining and coordinating accommodations for individual students with their equally important role of campus-wide consultant, advisor, and leader.

Through instruction, discussion, and resource sharing, we will explore the civil rights foundation, legal underpinnings, and practical realities of creating accessible, welcoming higher education environments. We will discuss both what must be done and what can be done and consider ways to reframe messages about disability on our campuses. Guided by participant questions and interests, we will cover the following topics:

  • basics of disability service in higher education, including foundational legal concepts, perspectives of disability, the power of design, and lessons from history and disability studies;
  • promising approaches for using interview and a variety of forms of information, including third-party documentation, to assess barriers and plan individual accommodations;
  • strategies for designing service delivery practices that minimize extra efforts by disabled students and encourage faculty collaboration in areas such as testing, note-taking, alternative formats, and captioning;
  • developing issues, including service/comfort animals, dietary accommodations, attendance policy modification as an accommodation, etc.
  • the campus-wide role of disability resource staff in collaborating with and consulting on information and communication technology (ICT) accessibility, physical, curricular, policy, and information access;
  • office management: record keeping, strategic planning, budgeting and resource management, and program review and assessment.

Unlike online trainings and other forms of distant education, this two-day Institute provides the opportunity for attendees to begin to develop a professional network of their peers, the most valuable professional development tool we can have!

Audience: Novice; AHEAD Start


#PC 2 Introduction to Disability Law for DS Professionals

Paul Grossman, Hastings College of the Law; Retired Chief Regional Attorney, OCR, San Francisco
Jamie Axelrod, Northern Arizona University
Mary Lee Vance, University of California, Berkeley


This Preconference Institute will give disability service professionals a comprehensive introduction to postsecondary disability law and establish a framework for answering the questions they encounter on a daily basis. We will begin by placing the responsibilities of disability services in a civil rights context: reinforcing the importance of a career in disability services with a review of the history of discrimination against individuals with disabilities and the emergence of the disability rights movement that culminated in the adoption of disability laws. We will learn about the legal traditions and concepts that all antidiscrimination laws share and what is unique to disability law. As the law shifts emphasis from who is “an individual with a disability” to “qualification,” we will consider how the responsibilities of a disability services professional are impacted?

We will provide an exploration of the practical implications of the ADAAA’s definition of disability and the implementing EEOC and impending DOJ regulations, as well as their relationship to the AHEAD Guidance on Documenting Accommodations. Once disability is established, what must be done to make programs and facilities accessible to persons with disabilities? What accommodations are, or are not, required in the college and university setting. This will include an exploration of the digital world (websites, academic management tools, on-line learning and adaptive technology), service and comfort animals, housing, ticketing, mobility devices, emergency planning, and more. Topics unique to higher education, such as admissions, discipline and conduct, academic accommodations, and internships will be covered. Individuals with expertise in students with psychiatric disabilities, digital world, and facilities access will join the presentation team.

Included in the registration for this Preconference Institute is a copy of Colker and Grossman, The Law of Disability Discrimination for Higher Education Professionals. The content of this resource is well-aligned with the content of this presentation, comprehensively covering most major court decisions and Federal guidance pertaining to the definition of disability and disability discrimination law in the post-secondary setting. For those professionals who must advise their campuses on employment questions, this publication also contains a full chapter on employment discrimination with regard to disability.

Audience: All; Legal Aspects



#PC 3 Learning Disabilities/ADHD, Diagnostic Assessment, and Professional Judgment, Oh My!!

Rhonda Rapp, St. Mary’s Universitys


This two-day Preconference Institute will provide a comprehensive introduction to diagnostic assessment as it applies to diagnosing learning disabilities and ADHD, as well as information about students with learning disabilities and/or ADHD.

It is a well-known fact that students with learning disabilities and/or ADHD tend to be the largest populations of students with disabilities on college and university campuses requesting and receiving accommodations. However, the majority of disability services providers are not trained educational diagnosticians and most have never taken even one diagnostic assessment course. Yet, colleges and universities require the results (documentation) of fairly recent, in-depth diagnostic assessments for students who have a learning disability and/or ADHD in order to best shape the student’s academic accommodations and related services.

Without training in diagnostic assessment it is difficult and sometimes impossible to accurately understand what the results of the assessment truly mean and whether or not the results are important and/or significant. For instance, some individual test batteries yield better results than others (Wechsler, Woodcock-Johnson, Wide Range Achievement, etc.). But, what does “better” mean? What section(s) of the diagnostic report provide the most useful information for selecting appropriate accommodations? And which section(s) are better for knowing how to answer when faculty (tutors, supplemental instructors, etc.) want to know “what else can I do?” Which section(s) are better for giving the student information to use in selecting a viable field-of-study and/or a major/minor? And which section(s) help with the “reduce course load or not” decision? And what about that old mantra “diagnostic assessments must be redone every three years?” Is that true? Was it ever true? The answers to these questions would probably surprise the majority of DS providers and might even shock some! However, understanding what the answers mean and understanding the true purpose of “diagnostic assessment” will definitely improve the functional limitation(s)/appropriate accommodation(s) equation and make it possible for DS providers to understand how “Professional Judgment” is not only a “diagnostic tool” but also an endeavor DS providers are more than qualified to undertake.

The goal of this two-day Preconference Institute is to provide in-depth information about “diagnostic assessment” as it applies to learning disabilities and ADHD, as well as information about students with learning disabilities and/or ADHD. In addition, this preconference will not only be highly interactive and hands-on but will include “diagnostic” case studies, real life examples of what it means to have a learning disability and/or ADHD, and ample time for questions and discussion.

Audience: Novice to Intermediate; DS Management

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Full-Day Preconference Institutes;
Monday, July 11, 2016 9:00 am – 5:30 pm (6 hours of direct instructional hours)



#PC 4 Running A DS Office: It is YOUR Business! Strategic Leadership and Enhancement of Disability Services – Concepts & Practices  ​

Emily Lucio, Johns Hopkins University
Karen Pettus, University of South Carolina
Tom Thompson, California State University-Fullerton​


DS providers today need to adapt to changing times with a clearer vision of our mission and purpose, assessment practices, and the development of financial resources. In this session you’ll review a conceptual framework for Disability Resources and learn about tools, techniques and practices used by successful practitioners on three diverse campuses: a private university, a public university and a suburban community college.

Participants will review a conceptual framework of Disability Resources with four key components: strategic planning, assessment, operations, and resource development. The presenters will share examples and experiences from their campuses with relevant to these components. Participants will have an opportunity to consider and discuss their current roles in relation to these four components, i.e., how much time they are able to allocate to each of these activities in the course of a semester or academic year. Participants will be guided in developing an action plan for the coming academic year in which they can allocate time to one or more of the four components. The emphasis will be on understanding what the work of a Disability Resources department encompasses and how to have a greater impact on the campus community as a whole. This portion of the preconference will occur in the morning session.

In the afternoon, the presenters will guide participants through three forty-five minute case studies where they will work individually and in small groups. Case studies will include a small college with a one-person office, a midsize college, and a larger university or community college. Participants will examine different issues in each case study that will be related to the four components of Disability Resources management.

By focusing on strategic planning, assessment, operations and resource development, DS providers can influence change in their office that will improve the provision of accommodations for students with disabilities and which can lead to greater campus access and inclusion. DS providers will learn how they can embrace a vision of their work that goes beyond direct support for individual students, considers the impact of the environment as a primary barrier to access, and includes a responsibility to impact the campus community.

Audience: Intermediate; Running A DS Office: It is YOUR Business!



#PC 5 Hot Topics and Trends in Curricular Accessibility  ​


Ron Stewart, AltFormatSolutions
Kara Zirkle, George Mason University


In this Preconference Institute we will look at current trends and topics in the area of curricular accessibility. In the modern university, the traditional paper textbook is only one of a plethora of requirements in curricular accessibility, and institutions need to be considering all of them. This session is ideal for upper administrators such as Vice Presidents, Deans of Students, E-Learning departments, CIOs, DS Directors, and others who need to understand the importance of technology and curricular accessibility but who may not perform “hands-on” work with assistive technology or alt media conversion. Technical topics will be made clear for a non-technical audience. The intent of this session is to bring attendees up-to-date on the state of current curricular accessibility.

Topics that will be covered will include:

  • Overview of obtaining files and basic production from a management perspective
  • Legal overview
  • STEAM (Science, Technology Engineering, Arts, and Math) content and access technologies
  • Multimedia accessibility

Participants are encouraged to bring questions and practices from their own institutions for discussion and plan-building.

Audience: All; Access Technologies / Offered in the Hands-On Technology Lab



#PC 6 Helping Deaf and Hard of Hearing Students Write to Learn: How STEM Teachers Can Add Writing to Their Courses

Rose Marie Toscano, National Technical Institute for the Deaf at Rochester Institute of Technology
Linda Rubel, National Technical Institute for the Deaf at Rochester Institute of Technology


Research shows that writing enhances student learning in all disciplines. This Preconference Institute will give STEM faculty strategies for including writing in their courses. Topics include: "writing to learn" activities, development of writing assignments, and response to student writing. Each participant will leave with a plan for developing writing assignments and the tools to provide constructive feedback.


Through this session, participants will understand the importance of writing in the disciplines for deaf/hard of hearing students in STEM disciplines and, by incorporating writing into their courses, will contribute to students’ growing sense of confidence and competency in written English. Participants will choose one in-class and one out-of-class writing idea and develop a prompt or activity that will engage students in this type of writing and develop a writing activity related to the content in a STEM course they teach. They will also be able to practice and use two response techniques for writing to learn activities that demonstrate constructive student feedback. They will learn to develop a scaffolded assignment, leading to a longer final written product that will be formally evaluated and used to assess learning outcomes for their particular STEM courses.

Audience: All; pepnet 2


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Full-Day Preconference Institutes
Tuesday July 12, 2016 9:00 am-5:30 pm (6 hours direct instructional hours)


#PC 7 Running A DS Office: It is YOUR Business! Taking the Lead on the Path to Access: Ways to Make a Difference on Your Campus

Adam Meyer–University of Central Florida
Kristie Orr–Texas A&M University


We may know a lot about accommodations, processes and specific disabilities. But as employees at our institutions who are expected to develop and maintain access on campus, progress will stall if we do not know how to lead our office and our campus partners on the journey toward greater accessible thinking. This hands-on, interactive Preconference Institute will explore essential concepts all disability professionals need to know in order to make a difference on campus.


  • Exploring the purpose of your office
  • Characteristics of leadership
  • Effective communication
  • Building trust
  • Creating and working through change
  • Working intentionally within your office culture
  • Collaborating beyond your office walls

Familiarity with social model thinking as an office direction is beneficial but not required. Those in attendance will be expected to participate in various ways, such as small and large group discussion and role plays. At the end of the discussions, participants will have more tools in their leadership tool kit. From there, the excitement begins in taking it back to campus and figuring out how to further develop your effectiveness as a leader. Disability personnel in all positions and sizes of offices are welcome.

Audience: Intermediate to Advanced; Running A DS Office: It is YOUR Business!



CANCELLED: #PC 8 Advanced Accessible Instructional Materials Production Techniques and Concepts

Ron Stewart, AltFormatSolutions
Kara Zirkle, George Mason University


Meeting the increasing demand for e-text as an accessible text format depends on sophisticated techniques for production and delivery, as well as an understanding of our legal obligations and methods for managing all of the above. While many colleges are creating e-text for students with print disabilities, many more are unaware of the process and requirements of creating appropriately usable materials in the STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math) fields. This one-day Preconference Institute will cover the use of a variety of tools for creating and editing digital curricular content, particularly STEAM materials. The Institute is designed specifically for participants who already have a solid understanding of production techniques for standard text materials.

Audience: Intermediate to Advanced Alt Format Producers; Access Technologies / Offered in the Hands-On Technology Lab




#PC 9 Five Steps to Accessible Institutions

Terrill Thompson, University of Washington
Gaeir Dietrich, California Community College System, High Tech Center Training Unit (HTCTU)


This interactive Preconference Institute will explore five components of an accessibility strategy: conducting an audit and developing a corrective action strategy, setting institutional standards and a method to monitor compliance, providing training and education about accessibility, instituting procedures within the procurement process, and providing and publicizing a mechanism for reporting access barriers.

Audience: All; Access Technologies; Program Innovation/Campus Collaborations/em>




#PC 10 An Interactive Introduction to Faculty Development: Reshaping the Focus of Disability Services

Elizabeth Harrison, University of Dayton


This interactive Preconference Institute (1) introduce participants to faculty development as part of their work; (2) explore ways to effectively embed discussion of inclusive design into faculty development; and (3) provide opportunities to practice talking about accessibility in faculty development terms. The facilitator has extensive experience in faculty development and universal design.

Audience: All; Learning and Engagement; Program Innovation/Campus Collaborations




#PC 11 Bringing Disability Services Online

Kelly Hermann, SUNY Empire State College
Jane Jarrow, Disability Access Information and Support


Online learning has been identified as an area of growth for many institutions in recent years. The realities of implementing accessible online courses have not always been addressed, yet disability service providers are called on to ensure student access in this new and growing environment. In this one-day Preconference Institute, we will begin with definitions, the principles of universal design, and the importance of campus partnerships. We will then take a preliminary campus commitment to digital accessibility to the next level. Participants will learn about web accessibility standards and partnering with campus colleagues to develop comprehensive, faculty development opportunities and course review processes.

Audience: All; Access Technologies; Program Innovation/Campus Collaborations



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Half-Day Preconference Institute
Tuesday July 12, 2016 9:00 am-12:30 pm (3.25 hours direct instructional hours)


#PC 12 A Campus Tour: Identifying its many parts and resolving associated accessibility issues

Irene Bowen, ADA One, LLC
Jim Kessler, Access Consultant


Access at a college or university is not limited to students and academics. It begins and ends with the physical environment (buildings and landscapes) that is host to ALL members of the academic community (faculty, staff, students, alumni/guests). We will examine the campus and its many parts and discuss and illustrate access concerns: how to identify them, resolve problems, and work toward change.

Audience: All; Legal Aspects




#PC 13 Complaints From Every Angle

L. Scott Lissner, The Ohio State University


If you do your job well conflict is unavoidable. Whether you are informally trying to resolve a conflict, formally investigating a complaint, or providing testimony to an outside agency, an understanding of formal complaint processes and best practices provides you with important tools. Learn how to minimize complaints and embrace those that are unavoidable.

Audience: Intermediate; Legal Aspects




#PC 14 Polishing the Tools in your DS Toolbox: Using professional standards to enhance DS effectiveness

Ann Knettler-Smith, Drexel University
Jean Ashmore, Rice University Emerita


Do the topics professional standards, learning outcomes, and program review give you the willies? In this Preconference Institute, we will discuss these topics in-depth to help you reframe your perspective by viewing measurable standards as additional tools for your DS toolbox. We will discuss the power a DS office can reap from embracing standards, explore how learning outcomes and program review can elevate departmental status and influence, and consider how campus connections are enhanced through DS leadership in these areas. The CAS Disability Resources & Services Standards will be a central element in this Institute. The 2013 Standards will be reviewed in detail, as will the student learning and development outcomes structure which is integral to CAS Standards. Participants will develop strategies and tools to “take home” for implementation. Bring your worries and wonders about the topics of standards, outcomes and review to this Institute. You will leave with confidence to tackle these professional challenges in new and more efficient ways.

Audience: All; DS Management




#PC 15 PTI- # Total Inclusion Involves Accommodating Distinctive Needs of Hard of Hearing Students

Corey Axelrod, Communication Services for the Deaf (CSD)


As a hard of hearing individual, the presenter will address audiological and cultural differences between deaf and hard of hearing students. The presenter will also identify hard of hearing students’ unique communication needs and methods, enabling individuals involved in the post-secondary education of hard of hearing students to better provide accommodations needed by these students inside and outside the classroom. As a result of participating in this session, participants will understand the unique audiological and cultural differences between deaf and hard of hearing students and also the benefits of different services that can be provided to hard of hearing students. Tips for working effectively with service providers (e.g., interpreters, captionists and agencies) will be shared.

Audience: All; pepnet 2



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Half-Day Preconference Institute
Tuesday July 12, 2016 2:00 pm-5:30 pm (3.25 hours direct instructional hours)


#PC 16 Animals on Campus

Irene Bowen, J.D., ADA One, LLC
Scott Lissner, The Ohio State University


Do questions about service animals and assistance animals continue to confound you, or do you want to learn the finer points and how to develop policies? In this Preconference Institute we will cover the basics and the details. What kinds of animals are allowed in housing or elsewhere? What verification/documentation can be required? How are the interests of others and of the university taken into account? We’ll lay the groundwork by considering the three (or more) laws that may apply and look closely at settlement agreements from federal cases against the University of Nebraska/Kearney, Kent State University, and others. We’ll work as a group to analyze sample policies and identify what you may want to include on your own campus.

Audience: All; Legal Aspects




#PC 17 Promoting Self-Determination in Higher Education: Keys to Retention, Graduation, and Post-Graduation Success

Sharon Field, Wayne State University
David Parker, Children's Resource Organization (CRG)
Sally Scott, AHEAD
Jodi Sleeper-Triplett, JST Coaching, LLC
Christina Fabrey, Green Mountain College
Nicole Nelson, Purdue University


Based on their new book, the presenters will use self-determination theory as a foundation for strategies that promote positive student outcomes. Campus collaborations that foster student autonomy and success include academic coaching, Universal Design for Instruction, contemplative practices, and programming that supports resilience and grit. This Preconference Institute will introduce relevant research, describe practical strategies, and engage participants in a discussion about growth mindsets.

Audience: All; Learning and Engagement, Program Innovation/Campus Collaborations, Transition/Career




#PC 18 Quality Indicators for Assistive Technology in Post-Secondary Education (QIAT-PS)

Janet Peters, University of Illinois Chicago



The Great Lakes and the Southwest ADA Centers entered into a collaborative project in 2009 with a number of universities interested in improving service delivery of assistive technology in their organizations. This hands-on Preconference Institute examines results of the pilot project, the products developed, and the next phase for QIAT-PS. We recommend attending this session with your team.

Audience: All; Access Technologies





#PC 19 Training Faculty and Professionals to Create Equity and Access

Cindy Camp, pepnet 2
Mark Camp, Jacksonville State University


Continuing education is important for anyone who works on a college campus. While we recognize the importance of universal design in the classroom, we don’t always apply these techniques to our professional development opportunities. This Preconference Institute will demonstrate tools and methods for engaging learners at all levels, from student to professional. The session will focus on the basic principles of universal design (UD), what makes adult learners unique, and methods for engaging a diverse group of learners. Participants will create a learning activity that includes at least one UD technique.

Audience: All; pepnet 2



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