PC#5- Alternative Format: Policy and Production
Rachel Kruzel, University of St. Thomas
Providing alternative and accessible textbooks and documents is an essential component of the role of a disability resource office. However, those who manage a one-person office, are new to the field, or juggle multiple roles may struggle with executing this accommodation in a thorough and efficient manner. As a result, many students who could benefit from etext and other accessible formats are overlooked or are given books and documents formatted in ways that are not effective.
This preconference will give attendees the skills and resources to provide alternative format textbooks and accessible documents and course materials. Attendees will explore “reading disabilities,” learn which students might benefit from accessible materials, and explore the resources available to support this work. We’ll discuss publisher files, other sources of accessible textbooks (such as Access Text Network, Learning Ally, and Bookshare), and scanning and editing files. Practical workflows and systems that can be implemented quickly will be shared. Attendees will leave with information and guidance to create a streamlined process for securing and producing accessible documents.
PC#6- Attendance Modification: From Eligibility to Implementation and Everything in Between
ElizaBeth Pifer, M.S., Northern Arizona University
Dorianne Pollack, M.Ed., Northern Arizona University
Yvonne Campbell, M.S.W., Northern Arizona University
Attendance modification as an accommodation is one of the hottest topics for disability service personnel right now. OCR guidance is clear that we should not send students to negotiate reasonable accommodations with their faculty members because of the power differential and their limited understanding of disability and the law. Yet, with the growing number of requests and the unique nature of each class, determining whether an attendance modification is reasonable and implementing it can be overwhelming.
Northern Arizona University’s Disability Resources Department completes approximately 350 attendance agreements per semester and has been nationally recognized as having a process that responds to legal guidance, is individualized yet efficient, and has actually led to improved faculty relationships. In the morning, we will discuss the legal reasons that modified accommodations may be reasonable and our philosophy in applying these concepts. Participants will then work in small groups using real case studies to arrive at an appropriate determination of whether the accommodation is reasonable. While there are no hard and fast rules to make this an easy process, there are questions that help demystify decisions. For example, what barrier are you removing with the accommodation and are there other accommodations or strategies available to remove the barrier?
In the afternoon, we’ll turn our attention to strategies for managing attendance modifications once a student is determined eligible. We will start with a brief history and share the evolution that led to our current practice. Strategies for identifying, assigning, tracking, developing, coordinating, and completing attendance agreements before the semester begins will be discussed. We will share our process for organizing the work, creating a Modified Attendance Agreement template for each class, and tracking progress. Participants will understand the components of the agreement with faculty and how to determine whether attendance is an essential part of the academic requirements for each class.
Attendees will leave this session with a thorough understanding of modified attendance, from student eligibility to faculty conversations to class appropriateness. Practice in applying concepts and tools for implementing the process on your campus will be provided.
PC#7- Reasonableness: Scenario-Based Guided Discussions
Scott Lissner, The Ohio State University
Synthesizing information from the student and about the class/program and considering them in light of legal and policy guidance to respond to requests for accommodation in the face of competing priorities from students, faculty, administrators, and other stakeholders is challenging. By design, the field requires individual analysis of each student’s characteristics, each program or campus context, and each unique request. With so many moving parts, legal and policy guidelines can only take us so far. Fluent communication skills, expertise in identifying relevant information, and a critical voice are necessary.
Using both the participants and facilitator’s knowledge and experiences, we will explore critical topics in disability services. In addition to revisiting the principles of reasonableness, we will discuss scenarios that include the most nuanced areas in higher education. Animals on campus, attendance accommodations, student conduct, internships/field placements, and topics suggested by participants will be covered.
Participants will set the stage as they work with the facilitator to identify and explore the principles of reasonableness that are the foundations of the accommodation process. How are these principles embodied in policy and reflected in practice across accommodation contexts? Brief introductory discussions and review of relevant research and legal guidance will proceed each situation discussion. Interactive scenarios will highlight principles in action and illustrate best practices, allowing participants to workshop policy and process elements to bring back to their campuses. The overall experience will balance information sharing, small group discussion, and hands-on policy and process consideration.
PC#8- Autism, Anxiety and the Sensory World of the College Campus
Jane Thierfeld Brown, Ed.D., College Autism Spectrum & Yale Child Study
Lorre Wolf, Ph.D., Boston University
The population of students with autism on college campuses has been increasing for well over a decade. Data show that about 35% of students with autism now attend college after graduating from high school. However, these students, as well as students, faculty, and staff with anxiety, can find the college experience overstimulating and inaccessible. As we learn more about sensory barriers, autism, and anxiety, we can implement accommodations, sensory alternatives, and spaces that support college success.
There are currently over 60 college programs in the country that specifically address the unique needs of students on the autism spectrum. Sensory Rooms, Calming Spaces, or Zen Dens are increasingly popular and give students a place to destress. The ability to relax has been proven to have both academic and health results. For example, data from several newly-built schools in Minnesota’s Northeast Metro Intermediate District 916, which set the gold-standard for sensory-friendly design, have shown that behavioral issues are down, and academic achievement is up.
In this preconference, you will learn about both designing welcoming spaces and providing individual supports for students on the spectrum and those with anxiety. We will address unique accommodations for students with autism and/or anxiety and discuss their implementation and effectiveness. We will explore strategies, sensory and otherwise, and connect them to cognitive results. If your campus is seeing an increase in the number of students with autism and you are finding that traditional accommodations alone aren’t effective in removing barriers for students, join two national experts in exploring innovative strategies and solutions.
Level: Intermediate (some background in disability services is required)
PC#9- Ask, Don't Tell. Using Powerful Coaching Questions to Increase Student Self-Reliance
Jodi Sleeper-Triplet, MCC, JST Coaching and Training
Christina Fabrey, M.Ed., Green Mountain College
As disability service providers, we are positioned to ask students questions to empower their self-awareness, personal exploration, focus, clarity, and decision-making. In this session, disability support providers will take a dive deep into the inquiry process to better understand how powerful questions can increase student self-reliance both personally and academically. From topics of self-care to academic excellence, participants will master the art of questioning.
Students can be harsh on themselves, highlighting their deficits and often not seeing themselves as others do: as creative, intelligent, and resourceful human beings. Employing holistic coaching techniques is a helpful strategy to support students’ positive school experiences, social skills, and skills for future academic and career success. Through the coaching process, disability service professionals have an opportunity to help students think critically, solve problems, overcome personal obstacles, discover their strengths, and generally make the most of their college experiences.
One of the most important skills in coaching is asking powerful questions. While the concept may seem simplistic, the shift from good questions to great questions is an art that requires active listening, patience, understanding, and practice. In this interactive workshop, the presenters will model the art of powerful questioning using real examples and student situations shared by participants. Each participant will have the opportunity to practice asking and answering questions during coaching sessions, so they can experience the power of great questions versus good questions. We will share common mistakes in the inquiry process, as well as strategies to help disability support providers use powerful questions to expand student self-awareness.
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