2019 AHEAD Start

An Academy for New(er) Disability Resource Professionals

October 17 – 19, 2019

Crowne Plaza Downtown Minneapolis
Minneapolis, Minnesota
AHEAD Start conference logo
This event is filled & registration closed

We regret that there are no additional seats available in the Academy. AHEAD will be offering a two-day preconference for newer disability resource personnel in July as part of its annual conference. Please look for registration and full information in mid-March.

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 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 event, now in its second year, 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 barriers, apply consistent principles, and impact established systems.

Disability resource professionals set the tone for how a campus frames and responds to disability. Therefore, we’ll begin the Academy with a foundation in disability studies, social justice, and civil rights. After framing disability, we’ll cover essential legal principles, documentation considerations, and reasonable accommodation decision-making. We’ll consider common and emerging issues, service coordination, and outreach. Topics include:

  • Disability studies: critical analysis of disability in society and how it informs service delivery
  • Legal concepts from Section 504, the ADA, case law, and settlement agreements: the interactive process, “reasonableness,” fundamental alteration, undue burden, and direct threat
  • The interactive process: student interview, documentation, and decision-making in context
  • Accommodation design and coordination: test accommodations, note-taking, document conversion, etc.
  • Assistive technologies, access in online spaces
  • Hot topics: animals on campus, attendance and assignment flexibility, housing, leaves of absence,
  • Stakeholder interactions: faculty, administrators, parents
  • Outreach and consultation: campus leadership and influence in the instructional, physical, technology, and policy environments

Unlike online trainings and other forms of distant education, the AHEAD Start Academy provides the opportunity for attendees to engage with each other and develop a professional network, the most valuable professional development tool available. Whether you work alone, with a large staff, or address disability as one component of a larger role, join us for this comprehensive, 16-hour introduction to a dynamic field. 

Back to top


Thursday, October 17, 2019

8:00-9:00 Full networking breakfast

9:00 – 5:00  Foundational information on disability, compliance, documentation, and the interactive process. 

  • 10:30 – 10:45 and 3:15 – 3:30 Refreshment Breaks
  • 12:15 – 1:45 Lunch on your own


Friday, October 18, 2019

8:00-9:00 Full networking breakfast

9:00 – 5:00  Breakout presentations and application: animals on campus; attendance modifications; inaccessible tests, lectures, academic materials; policy modifications; student and faculty development; housing and dining.

  • 10:30 – 10:45 and 3:15 – 3:30 Refreshment Breaks
  • 12:15 – 1:45 Lunch on your own


Saturday, October 19, 2019

9:00 – 3:00  Break out sessions; outreach and consultation - campus collaborations

  • 10:30 – 10:45 Refreshment Break
  • 12:15 – 1:45 Lunch on your own

Back to top


Jamie Axelrod
 Jamie Axelrod, M.S. is the Director of Disability Resources at Northern Arizona University and Past-President of AHEAD. Jamie presents regularly on topics related to disability access and higher education, having expertise in disability law and policy, communication and information technology (ICT) access, and the reasonable accommodation process. Jamie is a regular and well-respected contributor to professional listservs, including AHEAD’s discussion boards, and is a go-to consultant for complex issues. He has worked for the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s athletic department, as a mental health therapist, and for Protection and Advocacy Systems, Inc., a disability rights advocacy law firm where he served as an advocate for individuals with disabilities who were claiming that their civil rights had been violated. Jamie has served as co-chair of Northern Arizona University’s Commission on Disability Access and Design and on AHEAD’s Board of Directors.

Tammy Berberi
Tammy Berberi, Ph.D., is an associate professor of French at the University of Minnesota, Morris and past president of the Society for Disability Studies. A compassionate and student-centered advocate with more than twenty years of experience, Tammy presents and consults on issues related to campus transformation toward better experiences for disabled students and others who have been underserved in higher education. At Morris, Tammy has served as director of the Honors Program and interim director of the Office of Equity, Diversity & Intercultural Programs. Along with two collaborators, she was recently awarded “Dreaming Up the Change Disability Makes,” a two-year, system-wide grant to develop a critical disability studies program at the University of Minnesota. This year, in recognition of her service to students, to the university, and to the profession at large, Tammy received the University of Minnesota President’s Award for Outstanding Service.

Rachel Kruzel
Rachel Kruzel, ATP, is the Accommodations and Assistive Technology Specialist at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota and is a RESNA Certified Assistive Technology Professional (ATP). Rachel’s work focuses on Assistive Technology, Digital and Electronic Accessibility, and accommodation provision in a variety of areas including testing, notetaking, and alternative format course materials. She is also an independent consultant for colleges and universities, professional organizations, and companies, as well as students, parents, and assistive technology users. She regularly presents locally, regionally, and nationally on these topics, as well as provides expertise to students, families, and teachers on a successful transition to higher education. Rachel has been involved with AHEAD for almost ten years in a variety of capacities including Local Conference Chair (St. Paul, MN – 2015) and has helped to shape the technology track of the AHEAD 2019 conference in Boston. She is also a Past-President of Minnesota AHEAD

Jill Sieben-Schneider

Jill Sieben-Schneider, Ed.D. is the Associate Director of Disability Services, under the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Community Engagement at the University of Colorado Boulder. Jill teaches a disability in higher education course in the graduate school at CU Boulder and serves as a reviewer on the editorial board for the refereed academic Journal of Postsecondary Education and Disability (JPED). She is the past Chair for the Colorado Wyoming Association for Higher Education and Disability, served as a Program Chair for the national AHEAD conference, and currently serves as an AHEAD representative on the Council for the Advancement of Standards in Higher Education board. Prior to her work at CU Boulder. Jill was an Accommodation Specialist and coordinated the Transition Program in the McBurney Disability Resource Center at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She has served as a Graduate Assistant in the Disability Services office at Ball State University and taught high school English in Denver Public Schools. 

Back to top

Host Hotel

image of Crowne Plaza Downtown Minneapolis

All events and housing for the AHEAD Start Academy will be at the: 

Crowne Plaza Downtown Minneapolis

618 2nd Avenue South, Minneapolis, Minnesota, 55402-1900 https://www.ihg.com/crowneplaza/hotels/us/en/reservation

AHEAD has secured a very special group rate of only $139.00 + tax per night for single or double occupancy rooms. This rate includes complimentary wifi access.  Reservations must be made before September 25, 2019.

Reservations can be made by visiting: https://www.crowneplaza.com/redirect?path=hd&brandCode=CP&localeCode=en&regionCode=1&hotelCode=MSPCP&_PMID=99801505&GPC=AHE&cn=no&viewfullsite=true  or by calling: 612-338-2288

Back to top

AHEAD Start Academy Pricing

Registration on or before September 20, 2019 

  • AHEAD members: $495
  • Non-AHEAD members: $595

Registration after September 20, 2019

  • AHEAD members: $545
  • Non-AHEAD members: $645

There are NO refunds after September 20. Before and on September 20, ALL cancellations incur a $95 cancellation fee.

Back to top