2018 AHEAD Start

An Academy for New(er) Disability Resource Professionals

Are you in your first three years of disability resource work? Are you hiring staff new to the field? Do you notice gaps in your knowledge that a foundational experience would help to fill? If so, this is the event for you.

The AHEAD Start Academy will offer a foundational experience to disability resource professionals just acquiring or continuing to build fundamental knowledge and skills. With a team of highly experienced, nationally-respected presenters and three full days, you’ll have the chance to explore, discuss, and apply concepts important to building equity on college campuses. The Academy is designed to orient, refresh, and engage those newer to the field. The curriculum is based on, but expanded from, the AHEAD Start workshops that have trained over 500 disability resource staff members over more than 10 years. This new event takes the comprehensive goals of that workshop and expands them to prepare participants with the knowledge and skills to address disability-related barriers and engage campus stakeholders.

Disability resource staff enter the field with a variety of backgrounds, from student affairs to the K-12 system to vocational rehabilitation and the law. While each of these fields provides pertinent information, in isolation they cannot provide the breadth of knowledge and critical judgement necessary to analyze access barriers, apply consistent principles to diverse situations, and impact established systems that do not anticipate difference.

Recognizing that disability resource professionals set the tone for how a campus frames and responds to disability, the Academy begins with a foundation in disability studies, social justice, and civil rights. After framing disability in diversity and exploring essential legal principles, participants will be guided in their exploration of common and emerging issues. Topics include:

  • Disability studies: critical analysis of disability in society, media, design and services
  • Legal concepts: the interactive process, fundamental alteration, undue burden, direct threat, reasonable accommodations; 504, the ADA as amended, case law and settlement agreements
  • The interactive process: student interview, documentation, and decision-making in context
  • Access barrier analysis and accommodation delivery: service design, assistive technology, accommodation coordination, and faculty interactions
  • Outreach and consultation: campus leadership and influence in the instructional, physical, technology, and policy environments
  • Hot topics: animals on campus, attendance and assignment flexibility, housing, leaves of absence, technical standards
Unlike online trainings and other forms of distant education, the AHEAD Start Academy provides the opportunity for attendees to engage with others to develop a professional network, the most valuable professional development tool available! Follow-up activities connect and support participants when they return to their campuses. Whether you work alone, with a large staff, or address disability as one component of a larger role, join us for this comprehensive, three-day introduction to a dynamic field.

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Thursday, October 25 and Friday, October 26, 2018
8:30 – 5:30 In session
  • 10:00 – 10:30 and 3:00 – 3:30 Refreshment Breaks
  • 12:00 – 1:30 Lunch on your own
Saturday, October 27, 2018
8:30 – 3:00 In session
  • 10:00 – 10:30 Refreshment Break
  • 12:00 – 1:30 Lunch on your own  

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image of Amanda Kraus
Amanda Kraus, Ph.D. is Assistant Vice President for Campus Life at the University of Arizona. In this role, she serves Executive Director of the Disability Resource Center and Housing & Residential Life. The University of Arizona’s Disability Resource Centers is one of the largest in the nation and an international model of progressive service delivery. Amanda is also Assistant Professor of Practice in the Center for the Study of Higher Education, where she coordinates the master’s program and instructs courses on student services and disability in higher education. Amanda serves on AHEAD’s Board of Directors for and is currently President-Elect. She has had the privilege to work with institutions such as Singapore Management University, Duke University, Purdue University, and Wake Forest University and in 2016 participated in a delegation convened by the U.S. State Department to engage in dialogue on disability access in education and employment in Beijing, China. Outside of work, Amanda is an avid wheelchair tennis player and serves on the Board of Director for the United States Tennis Association – Southwest Section. She was recently recognized as one of Tucson’s Top 40 Under 40. Amanda received her M.A. and Ph. D. from UA in Higher Education.

image of Enjie Hall
Enjie Hall, M.R.C. is the Director of Campus Accessibility and Student Disability Services at the University of Toledo in Ohio. She is also serving as the University’s ADA Compliance Officer overseeing access to technology and the digital environment, facilities, programming, as well as employee and patient accommodations. Enjie previously worked at The Ohio State University in the Student Life Office for Disability Services and is a licensed professional counselor. She has presented at local, state, and national conferences on a variety of topics relating to services for disabled students, moving beyond compliance to full inclusion, and assistive technology. The combination of being a disabled individual, participating in community advocacy work, and her more than ten years of experience navigating successfully through numerous unique and challenging student situations enables Enjie to provide valuable guidance to others in the field.

image of Elisa Laird-Metke
 Elisa Laird-Metke J.D. has an extensive background in law, disability, and public health. She has worked as a university Sign Language interpreter and deaf services coordinator and later as a disability rights attorney and public health policy attorney, before returning to work in higher education. She is currently the Director of the Disability Resource Center at Samuel Merritt University in Oakland, California. Her publications include numerous articles and chapters, including several in The Guide to Assisting Students with Disabilities: Equal Access in Health Science and Professional Education, and she serves as Legal Advisor for the Coalition for Disability Access in Health Science and Medical Education. Elisa is a regular trainer for AHEAD, presents often at professional conferences, and provides customized consulting and training services to universities around the country. In her community, Elisa is passionate about creating green spaces and agriculture in urban environments and volunteers extensively with San Francisco non-profits and city agencies to promote people-friendly environments within the city.

image of Melanie Thornton
Melanie Thornton, M.A. is the Coordinator of Access and Equity Outreach at the University of Arkansas - Partners for Inclusive Communities. In this position, she provides professional development and technical assistance on topics related to disability, diversity, digital access, leadership, and design. Previously, she worked at the Disability Resource Center at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock where she served as the Associate Director and as the Director of Project PACE. In the capacity of Director of Project PACE, she led the campus community in increasing capacity related to web accessibility and inclusive curricular design. During her tenure at UALR she also served as a trainer for Project ShIFT—a project that focused on developing the leadership skills of professionals across the country and supporting them in infusing disability studies perspectives into their practices. Melanie has presented at state, national and international conferences on topics related to disability and access and has worked as an independent consultant in a variety of capacities for 10 years.

Host Hotel

image of Hyatt Regency St. Louis at the Arch

All events and housing for the Forum for New Professionals will be at the:

Hyatt Regency St. Louis at the Arch
315 Chestnut Street, St. Louis, MO 63102

AHEAD has secured a very special group rate of only $129.00 + tax per night for single or double occupancy rooms. This rate includes complimentary wifi and 24/7 workout room access. Reservations must be made before October 3, 2018.

Reservations can be made by visiting: https://book.passkey.com/go/StartAHEAD
Or by calling: 888-421-1442

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AHEAD Start Academy Pricing

Registration on or before September 21, 2018
  • AHEAD members: $495
  • Non-AHEAD members: $595
Registration after September 21, 2018
  • AHEAD members: $545
  • Non-AHEAD members: $645
There are NO refunds after September 21. Before and on September 21, ALL cancellations incur a $95 cancellation fee.

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Daily Schedule

Day 1

Welcome; overview; introductions; foundational information

 8:30-10:00; 90 minutes)

  • Framing the work: critical analysis of disability in society, media, design, and how these concepts impact higher education service provision and consultation.

 10:00-10:30- Break

  • Allowing time for individual consultation and networking

 10:30-12:00- 90 minutes

  • Disability service considerations and framing continued.

 12:00-1:30 - Lunch on your own

 1:30-3:00- 90 minutes

  •  Foundational legal concepts: the interactive process, fundamental alteration, undue burden, direct threat, reasonable accommodations; 504, the ADA as amended, case law and settlement agreements
3:00-3:30- Break

  • Allowing time for individual consultation and networking

 3:30-5:00- 90 minutes

  • The interactive process: student interview, documentation, and decision-making in context

 Day 2

 8:30-10:00- 90 minutes      

  • Review Day 1
  • Integrating disability, legal, and service foundations
  • Faculty interaction: letter of accommodation; syllabus statement; consultation (What’s reasonable in context?)

 10:00-10:30- Break

  • Allowing time for individual consultation and networking

 Concurrent Block 1- 10:30-12:00- 90 minutes with discussion/activity

Select one:

  1. Reading Psychoeducation Test Reports
  2. Animals and Access
  3. Inflexible Attendance Policies

 12:00-1:30 - Lunch on your own

Concurrent Block 2- 1:30-2:10- 40 minutes**

Select one:

  • Inflexible Student Assessments
  • Lectures
  • Housing & Meal Plan Requirements

Concurrent Block 3- 2:20-3:00- 40 minutes**

Select one:

  1. Lectures
  2. Animals and Access
  3. Parents

 3:00-3:30- Break

  • Allowing time for individual consultation and networking

 Concurrent Block 4- 3:30-5:00- 90 minutes with discussion/activity**           

Select one:

  1. Inflexible Student Assessments
  2. Animals and Access
  3. Accessible Field Placements

 Day 3

 Concurrent Block 5- 8:30-9:10- 40 minutes**    

Select one:

  1. Inflexible Attendance Policies
  2. Inaccessible academic materials
  3. Student Development

 Concurrent Block 6- 9:20-10:00- 40 minutes**  

Select one:  

  1. Inflexible Attendance Policies
  2. Office Mission, Identity and Branding
  3. Student Development

 10:00-10:30- Break

  • Allowing time for individual consultation and networking

 10:30-12:00- 90 minutes

  • Outreach and consultation; awareness & framing; campus culture
  • Intersectional case studies

 12:00-1:30 - Lunch on your own

 1:30-3:30; 90 minutes        

  • Networking breakout: collaborative conversations
  • Continuing professional development
  • Questions / Wrap-up


Concurrent Sessions

Barriers presented by Lectures – offered twice

Academic content that is delivered only through spoken lecture presents a host of barriers: from the need to maintain concentration for an extended period of time, to the need to capture content for later review, to the need to see material written on the board. We’ll take a closer look at the barriers that exist and consider solutions for each, including technologies that support independent note-taking, approaches to note-taking as an accommodation, acquisition and management of access services such as interpreting and CART, and approaches to making visual aspects of the lecture accessible.

 Inflexible attendance policies- offered three times

Although many people maintain that attendance is an important part of learning in the traditional classroom, strict attendance policies that are not well-considered can negatively impact students with unpredictable health conditions or who have any unexpected disability-related issues arise. How do we work with faculty and students to determine what is reasonable in terms of regular attendance, how to evaluate whether a request for attendance flexibility or extended assignment due dates may be a fundamental alteration, and preserve the integrity of the course objectives while allowing the flexibility that permits students with disabilities to meaningfully participate?

 Inaccessible Assessments- offered twice

The most common request from disabled students is for testing accommodations. Working under time pressure, the high stakes involved, fluent English reading skills, and the need to decipher what is being asked and recall relevant information all make standard tests unlikely to accurately measure what students with a variety of disabilities have learned. How can we partner with faculty members to encourage better test design and establish procedures that support both them and our office in delivering effective tests? Effective and compliant test center procedures will be discussed.

Inaccessible academic materials- offered once

Printed textbooks, inaccessible digital files, uncaptioned audio and video content all create barriers. This session will focus on resources for providing accessible academic materials, including sources for acquiring accessible materials, technologies for converting print and digital materials, captioning resources and considerations, and institutional expectations for accessible materials from case law.

Housing and dining requirements- offered once

There are many ways in which institutional requirements for on-campus living or dining plans can may present barriers for students. For example, students with allergies or other dietary restrictions may find that standard meal plans do not provide the nutrition options available to other students; the same may be said about availability of accessible or flexible spaces in residence halls for those students with mobility or other disabilities for which the dorm room can promote or hinder access. Ensuring that students have equitable access in these areas requires collaboration and an understanding of the student’s request and options available.

 Animals and Access - offered three times

When a student is using an animal to enhance access or remove a barrier, disability resource professionals sometimes forget what they already know about determining reasonable accommodation (or facilitating access?). The landscape can cause some confusion since different laws apply in different circumstances and those different laws require a different response from the college or university. We’ll sort out the differences between service animals and emotional support animals. We’ll also explore how to determine when an ESA is a reasonable accommodation.

 Student development- offered twice

College is time of identity development for all students. Developing one’s disability identity is complex and further challenging this process is the lack of opportunity to explore or celebrate disability identity, as most college or university campuses respond to disability only with accommodations and services, rather that community or pride.  This session will explore disability identity and culture and the role Disability Resource professionals can play in facilitating development.  We will grapple with concepts of “self-advocacy” as a necessary component of student development and also how it might impact disabled students. We will discussion campus programming and community building, as well as the role of disability cultural centers.

 Office Mission, Identity and Branding - offered once

If you are in a managerial position, whether as a single-staff member in the service office or as a leader of a team of staff, the structure of the office (its mission, vision, practices and procedures, record-keeping, website content, and organization) are all important components of your work. We will explore strategies for moving yourself, your team, and your campus forward with the messages the office sends.

 Reading Psycho-educational Tests- offered once

While reports from psychoeducational testing can vary widely, they have basic similarities and can help to clarify the barriers a student is likely to experience. We’ll review the general structure of reports and the information that can be found in subtests, background information, behavioral observations, and the conclusion and how it informs accommodation decision-making.

 Field placements- offered once

Many academic programs at the community college, university, and graduate level include off-site educational requirements. Whether a student is in a student teaching experience, on a clinical rotation or in an office environment, creating an accessible experience in non-didactic settings requires understanding the demands of the site and the learning objectives, as well as creative thinking and close collaboration with the student, academic department, and off-campus site.

 Parents- offered once

Parents of college students have never been so involved with their students as they are today. This level of engagement is understandable and often a key part of the student’s academic success thus far. However, in college overly involved parents can challenge disability service personnel and faculty and negatively impact the student’s personal development and maturity. We’ll discuss ways to set boundaries for parents while supporting student independence.