2018 AHEAD Start

An Academy for New(er) Disability Resource Professionals

October 25 – 27, 2018

St. Louis, Missouri

AHEAD Start conference logo
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, 3-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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