AHEAD 2017: 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, 2017 and an additional tuition fee (separate from the Conference registration fee). On-site registration for Preconference Institutes is not available. To ensure a high quality, personal experience, registration for Preconference Institutes may be capped. Please register early to ensure your space. 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 17, AND Tuesday July 18, 2017; 9:00 am - 5:30 pm each day (13 hours of direct instructional hours)

One Day Preconference Institutes
Tuesday, July 18, 2017 9:00 am – 5:30 pm (6.5 hours of direct instructional hours)

Tuesday Morning Preconference Institute
July 18, 2016 9:00 am - 12:30 pm (3.25 hours direct instructional hours)

Tuesday Afternoon Preconference Institute
Tuesday July 18, 2016 2:00 pm - 5:30 pm (3.25 hours direct instructional hours)

Two-Day Preconference Institutes 
Monday July 17, AND Tuesday July 18, 2016, 9:00 am - 5:30 pm each day

#PC 1 New to the Profession: Building a Strong Foundation


Margaret Camp, M.Ed., Clemson University
Ann Knettler-Smith, M.A., Delaware State University
Cheryl Muller, M.A., University of Arizona
Randall Ward, M.A., Purdue University

Recognizing individuals enter the field of Higher Education and Disability Services from various backgrounds, AHEAD offers this two-day pre-conference workshop to set the foundation for new disability resource professionals and offer a comprehensive overview of issues that impact our work. The disability service office serves not only as a resource for students but as a campus leader in creating inclusive and sustainable learning environments through outreach and collaboration. Disability resource professionals set the tone for how campus communities frame and respond to disability on their campuses.

Through interactive discussion and practical application, we will explore “what we think we know” about disability together. We will discuss our work in the context of access and equity and explore how to move beyond compliance toward more sustainable and equitable practices. We will talk about infusing principles of universal design into our work, shifting our focus to the inclusive design of environments and campus systems to be more equitable and require less individual modification. A best practice is to think beyond what we ‘MUST’ do with respect to compliance to what we CAN do broadly and proactively to ensure a welcoming experience for all.

Areas of emphasis:

  • Prevalent models that frame disability and examine how we can design practices to challenge medical or tragedy-thinking and reinforce the social model of disability in our work
  • Disability services/resources work in higher education and how it differs from the K-12 system
  • Responding to requests for reasonable accommodation
  • Documentation of disability: when is it needed and how to use it
  • Disability and civil rights history
  • Legal foundations of the work: The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and who is covered
  • Universal design and the power of design to promote inclusion and equity
  • Campus outreach strategies: how to cultivate relationships with faculty and other key allies
  • Office practices that reflect social model thinking: communication, office processes and record keeping

#PC 2 Disability Law for DSS Directors, Staff, and ADA Officers: Compliance requirements, analytical tools, and solutions


Paul Grossman, J.D., Hastings College of Law
Jamie Axelrod, M.S., Northern Arizona University
Mary Lee Vance, Ph.D., Consultant

This two-day Preconference Institute will give DS and ADA professionals a comprehensive introduction to postsecondary disability law, including compliance requirements of the ADA and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. begin by placing the responsibilities of a DSS officer into its civil rights context, reinforcing the importance of a career in DSS services with a review of the history of discrimination against individuals with disabilities and the emergence of the disability rights movement which culminated in the adoption of disability laws. Participants will learn what legal traditions and concepts 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,” how are the responsibilities of DSS impacted?

While highlighting long-standing and widely-accepted judicial precedents and principles, the very latest, cutting-edge decisions will be discussed. We will provide an exploration of the practical implications of the ADAAA’s definition of disability, the implementing EEOC and recent DOJ Test Accommodation Guidance, and brand new DOJ regulations, as well as their relationship to the AHEAD Guidance on Documenting Accommodations. Once disability is established, we will consider 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 academic adjustments and auxiliary aides, the digital world (websites, academic management tools, on-line learning and adaptive technology), service and emotional support animals, mobility devices, architectural and programmatic access, and more. Topics unique to higher education, such as admissions, discipline and conduct, self-injurious students, academic accommodations, and internships will be covered.

Included in the cost of tuition for this class are approximately 14-16 hours of instruction by nationally-recognized presenters, the contents of a Power Point presentation containing well-over 400 slides, a set of class hypothetical question exercises, and one copy of the AHEAD/Lexis-Nexis publication, Colker and Grossman, the Law of Disability Discrimination for Higher Education Professionals. This Institute will provide each attendee with a comprehensive framework for addressing legal responsibilities and answering the questions they encounter on a daily basis.

#PC 3 Power & Privilege in Disability Services

Amanda Kraus, Ph.D., University of Arizona

Many of us are drawn to disability services work because of our commitment to social justice and inclusion. However, we must enter into this work with a reflective posture, as we recognize that we can be a part of the problem—inadvertently contributing to dynamics that maintain the status quo. This two-day preconference will explore disability in the larger context of social justice dynamics. Participants will reflect on their personal power and privilege and connect it to professional practice in disability services.

We will begin by exploring systemic and individual dynamics of power and privilege. By situating disability along other community and identity experiences, participants will have time and space to reflect on their personal power and privilege. System change requires reflection on our individual roles and responsibilities in the larger system. We will relate to professional practice by exploring how our positions may impact building authentic relationships with disabled students and how we may represent disability to campus audiences.

We will then move on to explore how these dynamics impact contemporary and professional concepts of disability. Borrowing from disability studies and disability history, we will look at how disability is currently framed in society. We will explore conscious and unconscious biases about disability and how these ideas may shape our personal and professional ideas.

After reflecting on the impact of bias on disability services, we will focus specifically on disability-related microaggressions, an emerging area of scholarship with important implications for our work. We will review the literature and work collectively to unpack examples of microaggressions and the role we play in either perpetuating or dismantling these experiences.

Finally, we will discuss our roles as allies and advocates. Ally development is a powerful, but potentially contentious, way to declare support and commit to change together – disabled and non-disabled people alike. As disability services professionals, are we de-facto disability allies? Together we will explore questions authenticity in ally development and representation in disability services. We will end with participants developing and discussing specific action items.

#PC 4 Leading from Within: Allowing Your intentional leadership approach to positively influence your outcomes

Adam Meyer, Ph.D., University of Central Florida
Kristie Orr, Ph.D., Texas A&M

This two-day workshop will explore leadership concepts and proven practices that we can all use to become better leaders, regardless of position and title. Leadership is not a trait that people are born with but a way of living that anyone can intentionally practice and develop. Only by operating effectively based on our own personal approach are we able to lead others effectively. Thus, we will start with an internal look at leadership and then move out beyond ourselves to empowering, motivating, and nurturing others.

We will explore the following topics through a combination of presentation, discussion, hands-on activities, and role playing:

  • Leadership: ethics; discovering your leadership style
  • Working from within: identifying your strengths and opportunities for growth; vulnerability; listening; gratitude
  • Working with others: motivating others; connecting with the institutional mission; rallying campus-wide support for access; managing in the gray areas

We will use a WHY, WHO and HOW approach to discussing these topics. Starting with a definition of leadership for the purpose of our conversation, we will define WHY it is important to intentionally examine leadership. We will then explore WHO, beginning with ourselves and moving onto work with others. Finally, we will explore HOW to effectively utilize leadership approaches. Many of the activities that we use will be geared toward developing the HOW toolbox.

The goal of this preconference is to give participants tools to use when working with office teams, faculty, and other campus partners in order to facilitate access outcomes that benefit everyone. Attendees need not be in leadership positions by title to attend this workshop but should be interested in improving their ability to positively connect and collaborate with others.

Topics and discussion over the two days will be guided by concepts from popular leadership books and personal experiences of the presenters. The preconference will have a healthy balance of lecture and group work, including small table discussion, role plays, and larger interactive group discussions.

#PC 5 Learning Disabilities/ADHD, Diagnostic Assessment, and Professional Judgment, Oh, My!!

Rhonda Rapp, Ph.D., St. Mary’s University

This two-day pre-conference will provide an introduction to diagnostic assessment as it applies to diagnosing learning disabilities and ADHD, as well as information about the functional impact of specific 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 requesting and receiving accommodations on college and university campuses. However, the majority of disability services providers are not trained educational diagnosticians, and many 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 they do?” Which section(s) are better for giving the student information to use in selecting a viable field-of-study (major/minor)? 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 might surprise the majority of DS providers and might even shock some! However, understanding what the answers to these questions mean and understanding the true purpose for administering a “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 viable “diagnostic tool” but also an endeavor DS providers are more than qualified to undertake.

The goal of this two-day pre-conference is to provide in-depth information about “diagnostic assessment” and “functional impact” as they apply to students with learning disabilities and ADHD. This preconference will not only be highly interactive and hands-on but will include “diagnostic” case studies focusing on what it means to have a learning disability and/or ADHD; ample time for questions and discussion will also be provided.

#PC 6 Accessibility 101

Terrill Thompson, B.S., DO-IT, University of Washington
Gaier Dietrich, B.A., High Tech Center Training Unit

This two-day pre-conference is designed for anyone involved with ensuring their institution's technology is accessible but feeling a bit overwhelmed by or uncertain about that responsibility. The session will cover technology-related accessibility issues in easy-to-understand ways. No question is too simple or too small! We will also bring attendees together to explore strategies and promising practices for addressing these issues campus-wide. Topics to be covered will include:

1. Applicable laws and standards: Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 both prohibit discrimination against persons with disabilities. Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act, as amended in 1998, requires that federal agencies ensure accessibility of information technology, and its standards have been adopted by some states. How do these laws apply to higher education institutions, and what are the requirements related to information technology? We will explore these questions, and learn about the standards that are often used to measure accessibility of websites and other information technology, the W3C Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0.

2. Assistive Technology: Many of the problems encountered by students with disabilities in higher education concern instructional materials and information technologies that are not accessible to their assistive technologies (AT). In order to understand this, it is important to have a basic knowledge of the types of AT commonly used by individuals with disabilities. This session will provide discussion, demonstration, and hands-on activities for learning more about AT.

3. Alternate Format Conversion: Many individuals with disabilities, including those with blindness, visual impairments, and learning disabilities such as dyslexia, are unable to read traditional print and require that it be converted into alternate formats such as Braille, HTML, Microsoft Word, tagged PDF, and ePUB3. This session will explore a variety of tools, methods, and strategies for effectively and efficiently finding or converting instructional materials into alternate formats.

4. Web Accessibility: WCAG 2.0 has 62 specific success criteria for measuring whether websites are accessible. This session will bring these success criteria down to earth and explore a variety of web accessibility problems and solutions in a way that is fun, interactive, and easy for non-developers to grasp.

5. Information Technology Accessibility: Information technology (IT) accessibility is about more than websites. Students face challenges with all sorts of IT, including digital documents, videos, classroom technologies, and software. This session will explore a variety of strategies and promising practices for addressing accessibility of IT. How can we test products and services for accessibility? How can accessibility be addressed within the procurement process?

One-Day Preconference Institutes
Tuesday, July 18th, 9:00 am - 5:30 pm

#PC 7 Approaches to Dispute Resolution: From establishing accommodations to determining fundamental alteration

L. Scott Lissner, The Ohio State University

A brief overview of best practices and regulatory expectations for resolving grievances surrounding the accommodation process will allow participants to locate their institutional practices within a framework of policies and processes. The remainder of the session will be driven by a series of highly Interactive scenario-based exercises drawn from participant recommendations, the experience of the facilitator, and case law to illustrate core concepts, differentiate approaches, and expand skills. Exercises ranging from small group discussion and paired problem-solving to roleplaying will use contrasting hypotheticals to highlight informal and formal dispute resolution concepts across the spectrum of approaches and techniques drawn from facilitation, mediation, and arbitration. The experiential approached combined with concrete examples and counter examples is intended to allow participants to refine and their philosophical, structural, and procedural approaches to dispute resolution.

Beginning with disputes with students over what accommodations are warranted based on their presentation, case studies will identify and model potential disputes across a wide range of contexts including:

  • Classroom accommodations such as notetaking, testing, attendance, and group work
  • Academic policies: withdrawals, course substitutions, program extensions
  • Communications access (digital & online materials, Braille, CART, interpreting, and notetaking)
  • Failure to implement approved accommodations
  • Housing, facilities, and co-curricular programs
  • Residence life, codes of conduct, service and emotional support animals
  • Exclusion, retaliation, and bullying

Participants will be able to:

  • Use the principles for balancing competing equities to refine the institutional approach disability dispute resolution
  • Apply techniques drawn from facilitation, mediation, and arbitration in context
  • Identify the key components for dispute resolution policies
  • Describe the appropriate contexts for informal and formal dispute resolution practices
  • Explain the basis for a formal appeal and the standard of evidence used in formal complaint process
  • Describe the critical requirements for internal complaint processes
  • Understand how to conduct a formal investigation including notice, interview, data collection, evaluation, and report writing
  • Evaluate fundamental alteration, undue burden, and direct threat

CANCELLED: #PC 8 Open Educational Practices: A potential path to greater social justice

Kaela Parks, M.Ed., Portland Community College

This interactive pre-conference session will explore the intersection of open education and accessibility. While open education is often viewed mainly as a means to lower textbook costs for students, the movement also provides opportunities for accessibility personnel to partner with instructional faculty, librarians, and others and to foster inclusive course design. Materials which are licensed openly allow users to Retain, Reuse, Revise, Remix, and Redistribute, which can allow accessibility related improvements to be made and shared over time.

Participants will review examples of projects and initiatives aimed at not just lowering textbook costs, but doing so in ways that also address alignment with Web Content Accessibility Guidelines. The session will address not just open resources/materials but also open pedagogy/activities, considering ways in which open practices such as increasing student voice and choice are related to universal design.

Participants will leave the session armed with data regarding the adoption and efficacy of OER, as well as hands-on experience with some of the tools and techniques that can be useful. Both pitfalls and opportunities will be discussed in the context of alternate format material provision. Participants will leave the session with a strong set of resources and examples to pull from moving forward.

#PC 9 Using CAS Disability Standards: Learning Outcome Creation to Strategic Application

Ann Knettler-Smith, M.A., Delaware State University
Sandi Patton, M.S., Nevada State College
Gavin Steiger, M.J.Ed., The University of Houston-Clear Lake

Are student learning and development outcomes part of your DS program? Does your administration expect you to perform assessments for accreditation purposes or to show office effectiveness? Increasingly, DS practitioners are expected to approach their work from an outcomes perspective, especially in shifting higher education paradigms that focus upon student success and retention. However, most disability service offices have not taken an outcomes approach and may struggle with it philosophically. In this interactive session, we will use the DRS standards from the Council for the Advancement of Standards in Higher Education (CAS) to provide a framework for assessing the learning outcomes of our programs and services, offer hands-on experience in developing specific outcomes relevant to disability services work and the assessment techniques that can be used to measure them, and identify methods in which they can be incorporated into strategic planning.

The session will begin with participants reviewing current office mission statements and developing one that is reflective of both their institution and the CAS standards. Participants will also develop the essential elements of a DS program as it relates to the mission, student learning outcomes (SLOs), and program outcomes. Student learning outcome theory will be introduced with examples on incorporating this paradigm into DS work. Understanding learning domains/dimensions and their use in developing student learning outcomes will be a key focus. Interactive activities will enhance the development of unique, individualized student learning outcomes for each participant.

Participants will learn formal and strategic assessment methods to capture data. Determining how to develop SLOs that can be measured through multiple measures will be included. In addressing program outcomes, the session will allow participants to determine ways they can assess their services, facilities, technology, and other aspects of their offices to determine which services may need to be expanded, improved, or discontinued. The presenters will share different assessment techniques, provide guidance on how to create questions that can provide measurable results, examine the assessment cycle, and provide strategies on how to constructively use data to promote positive change.

Through discussions and group activities, each participant will have the opportunity to incorporate the learning and program outcomes they developed into a basic strategic plan template, which can later be used at the institution as a replicable means of writing the DS strategic plan. This session instruction, guidance, and interactive activities to support the use of CAS, the development of student learning outcomes, and the process of incorporating student learning outcomes into your DS Strategic Plan.

#PC 12 AHEAD Start

Carol Funckes, AHEAD

This one-day institute condenses the curriculum from the established two-day AHEAD Start training offered at Management Institutes and the conference over the past several years. Based on demand, this foundational session is an option for those new to disability services in higher education and able to join us on Tuesday, July 18th. Major topics include: disability, legal foundation, documentation, accommodation delivery, and strategies for creating a welcoming campus culture. The session will be highly interactive

Tuesday Morning Preconference Institutes
July 18, 9:00 am-12:30 pm

#PC 10 Faculty Collaboration: Fundamentals of navigating processes and building relationships

Chester Goad, Ed.D., Tennessee Technological University
Ed Beason, M.A., Tennessee Technological University

New professionals in the field often find it difficult to navigate a clear path of communication and understanding with faculty members, administrators, and other campus personnel. This preconference will focus on effective approaches to building and maintaining faculty relationships and will provide real world solutions and practical tips and insight into the negotiation process and the legal landscape while maintaining the focus on serving students. Topics will include fundamental alterations, policies, clarifying and delineating roles with academic partners, and collaborative decision-making process. This session will be facilitated by disability providers with extensive experience working with faculty. Both presenters have served in faculty roles. Participants will take part in a discussion-based, case-scenario roundtable and will walk away with tangible tools, tips, and samples. There will be ample time for questions.

Tuesday Afternoon Preconference Institutes
July 18, 2:00 - 5:30 pm

#PC 11 Graduate Your Students with Math Disabilities: Applying Study Skills, Learning/Testing Accommodations, and Course Substitutions

Paul Nolting, Ph.D., Hillsborough Community College

Disability offices have many students failing math or only needing one math course to graduate. This workshop focuses on determining the learning effects of different disabilities, applying new accommodations, study skills, mindfulness, student success plans, bypassing prerequisites, course substitutions and working with faculty. Participants can also bring their own case studies for review.