With its 4,000+ membership and international reach, AHEAD is uniquely qualified to offer in-person professional development for those working in higher education disability resources. It does so five times a year with a diversity of focused conferences, from master classes designed for highly experienced professionals to the AHEAD Start Academy focused on foundational knowledge for newer professionals to the original July annual conference. AHEAD’s events always feature nationally recognized presenters, hands-on learning, and extensive networking opportunities.

Equity & Excellence: Access in Higher Education AHEAD Conference Logo

Equity & Excellence: Access in Higher Education

 AHEAD's annual international conference is its hallmark event. Now in its 46th year, Equity & Excellence: Access in Higher Education draws approximately 1,500 participants from around the world for a week of extraordinary professional development and networking. Presenters and participants come from diverse fields, including education, technology, law, scholarship, and government, but share a common interest in fostering equitable higher education experiences for disabled individuals. 

 Programming includes in-depth preconference institutes on Monday and Tuesday of conference week, an opening keynote address, over 100 concurrent sessions, networking receptions and activities throughout the week, an Exhibit Hall featuring the most recent technologies and agency representatives, and two poster sessions. Certificates of Attendance and preapproved continuing education units (CEUs) from the Commission on Rehabilitation Counselor Certification (CRCC) and the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf (RID) are available.

 Conference proposals are solicited in September and October, with the program set and registration open in March of each year. The conference is held in July in various locations throughout the U.S.

Management Institutes logo

AHEAD’s Management Institutes are offered in early February. We make sure to schedule the workshop-based program in a warm climate to provide both excellent professional development opportunities and a break from winter weather. Four to five two-day, 13-hour workshops offered each year on topics of interest to disability service professionals, student affairs staff and administrators, and TRiO personnel. An Institute for new disability resource personnel, AHEAD Start, is often a part of the programming.  Each attendee chooses ONE Institute for an in-depth focus on a specific topic. The intimate setting, hands-on learning, networking opportunities, and experienced faculty bring attendees back year after year. Certificates of Attendance and pre-approved continuing education units (CEUs) from the Commission on Rehabilitation Counselor Certification (CRCC) are available.

The Next Chapter conference logo

A new addition to AHEAD’s annual events, The Next Chapter comes in response to members’ requests for professional development content that pushes experienced professionals’ development: that assists them in making nuanced decisions, staying current with legal and technology changes, engaging campus stakeholders, and gaining the respect necessary to redefine access on their campuses. The three-day intensive master classes, provide institutional leaders and seasoned disability professionals with a solid understanding of the ADA and disability accommodation process, to join national-expert instructors for a deep dive into an “advanced” curriculum. All participants receive a certificate of advanced study. Continuing education units (CEUs) from the Commission on Rehabilitation Counselor Certification (CRCC) are available.  

Accessing Higher Ground logo

Accessing Higher Ground is the annual conference of ATHEN, Access Technology Higher Education Network, one of AHEAD’ Associated Partners. The focus of this weeklong conference is accessible media, universal design and assistive technology in the university, business and public settings. Numerous educational sessions are offered on legal and policy issues, including ADA And 508 compliance, and the creation of accessible media and information resources, including Web pages and library resources. The conference brings together over 500 web designers, assistive technologists, ADA coordinators, disability resource staff, faculty members, course designers, media specialists and programmers, and IT and communication managers. The conference is held in Westminster, Colorado in November of each year.  Learn More...

AHEAD Start Conference logo

Premiering in October 2018 and based on a curriculum fine-tuned over more than 10 years, AHEAD’s conference for those newer to higher education disability services provides an invaluable orientation to the field. The three-day event first grounds participants in foundational disability and legal concepts. Participants then explore environmental barriers that limit opportunity and strategies, including accommodations, for mitigating their impact. Primary in the event is the opportunity to work through challenging situations, including determining the “reasonableness” of a requested accommodation, working with faculty members who question the legitimacy of accommodations, and fostering campus-wide ownership of accessibility. As with all AHEAD conferences, a certificate of attendance to document professional training and continuing education units (CEUs) from the Commission on Rehabilitation Counselor Certification (CRCC) are available.