PC#1- AHEAD Start: An Introduction to Access for Newer Disability Resource Professionals
Carol Funckes, AHEAD
This two-day program is designed to provide those newer to higher education disability resources with a foundational overview of the major issues that shape access in higher education today. In the dynamic postsecondary environment, the disability service office must be both a service unit and a vital center of information and collaboration for the campus community. Disability resource professionals must balance their work in determining and coordinating accommodations for individual students with the equally important role of campus-wide consultant, advisor, and leader.
This workshop will support participants in building on the skills they bring to the field, acquiring the knowledge and the critical judgement to analyze access barriers, apply consistent principles to diverse situations, and foster change within established systems. Through instruction, discussion, hands-on activities, and resource sharing, we will explore the civil rights foundation, legal underpinnings, and practical realities of creating accessible, welcoming higher education environments. Guided by participant questions and interests, we will cover the following topics:
- foundational legal, disability, documentation, and design concepts;
- the interactive process, working with students to assess barriers, achieve access, and establish accommodations;
- strategies for designing service delivery practices that minimize extra efforts by disabled students and encourage faculty collaboration;
- considerations for implementing common accommodations and addressing developing issues
- Collaborations to create a more inclusive and accessible campus
Unlike online trainings and other forms of distant education, this two-day Institute provides the opportunity for attendees to engage with others to 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 a dynamic introduction to an exciting field.
PC#2- Introduction to Disability Law for DSS Directors, Staff, and ADA Officers
Paul Grossman, retired Hastings College of Law and the Office of Civil Rights
Jamie Axelrod, Northern Arizona University
Mary Lee Vance, California State University Sacramento
Back by popular demand, this updated two-day preconference will give DS, ADA, disability law practitioners and compliance professionals a comprehensive introduction to postsecondary student disability law, including the requirements of the Americans Disabilities Act, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and the Fair Housing Act. There is no way to anticipate every question or scenario that will arise in implementing these laws. Consequently, our mission is to provide each participant with a series of comprehensive frameworks, “analytical paradigms,” and procedural tools for addressing the broad range of legal questions they are likely to encounter. The courts and the Office for Civil Rights often devote more scrutiny to the processes colleges and universities use to reach their decisions than to the decisions themselves. Accordingly, this course will present the procedures most likely to receive agency approval and deference.
This course will begin by placing the responsibilities of disability services into its civil rights context with a review of the history of discrimination against individuals with disabilities and the emergence of the disability rights movement. Participants will learn the seminal legal concepts common to all antidiscrimination laws and what is unique to disability law. With this broad foundation under our feet, we will take a quick walk through the applicable regulations and tie these concepts and regulations to a comprehensive overview of potential claims and defenses under disability discrimination law including denial of accommodation, fundamental alteration, and undue burden.
Next, we will learn to look at our daily questions as if they had been set before a judge to scrutinize. The issue underlying about 80% of all post-secondary student disability cases is whether the student-complainant is “a qualified individual with a disability” (QID). This includes focusing on who is “an individual with a disability” under the ADA as amended and what the courts and DOJ tell us about documentation of disability. We will then proceed to the second element of the QID paradigm: whether a student with a disability can meet the essential academic and technical requirements of the institution, with or without reasonable accommodation (“academic adjustments and auxiliary aids”). This will include discussion of accommodations that are “necessary” and “reasonable” and those that are not because they either entail a “fundamental alteration” or an “undue burden.”
Finally, will devote significant time analyzing recent court decisions and OCR letters, whose discernible theme is that colleges and universities should never deny an accommodation to students with disabilities without first engaging in a case-by-case (individualized) and “interactive” consideration process, even if implementing the accommodation would require making an exception or modification to a long-existing rule, practice, policy, or assumption. Particularly at this stage, we will apply these foundational concepts to cutting-edge legal developments in some of the most challenging and complex issues that face DS offices such as self-injurious students. Opportunities to apply concepts will be provided through discussion of recent cases.
Persons who complete this class will be well-prepared to take their knowledge and understandings to the next level by attending AHEAD’s master class offered on this subject each spring.
PC#3- Socially-Just Services: Unpacking How Ableism Shapes the Disability Experience and Informs Processional Practice
Amanda Kraus, University of Arizona
Many of us are drawn to professional work in disability services because of our commitment to social justice and inclusion. In this two-day workshop, we will explore disability in the context of social justice dynamics, providing space for participants to reflect on their positionality to disability and connect to professional practice in disability services.
We will begin by exploring systemic and individual dynamics of power and privilege. By situating disability along other community and identity experiences, participants will have time and space to reflect on their personal power and privilege. Participants will relate to professional practice by exploring how their positions may impact building authentic relationships with disabled students and how they may represent disability to campus audiences. We will then move on to explore how these dynamics impact contemporary and professional concepts of disability. Borrowing from disability studies and disability history, we will look at how disability is currently framed in society, explore conscious and unconscious biases about disability, and consider how these ideas may shape our personal and professional ideas.
After reflecting on the impact of bias on disability services and higher education, we will focus specifically on disability-related microaggressions, an emerging area of scholarship with important implications for our work. We will review the literature and work collectively to unpack examples of microaggressions and the role we play in either perpetuating or dismantling these experiences. Finally, we will discuss our roles as allies and advocates and ways to cultivate effective relationships that promote equity on campus. We will end with participants developing and discussing specific action items.
PC#4- Diagnostic Assessments: Understanding and Operationalizing Diagnostic Assessment Outcomes
Rhonda Rapp, Educational Constultant
Students with learning disabilities and/or attention disabilities tend to comprise the largest combined population of students with disabilities who request and receive accommodations on college and university campuses. To understand and address the barriers they face, colleges and universities request diagnostic assessment results as documentation of disability. However, without specific training in the processes, purposes, and uses of diagnostic assessment information, disability resource personnel cannot make the best use of assessment reports. Understanding the results of an assessment is crucial to creating an equitable experience: Are the test results significant? Do the results support requested accommodations? Do the results indicate that other accommodations would be effective? In general, how can you operationalize the information you get in a report?
This two-day preconference is designed for anyone interested in learning more about diagnostic testing and how to use psychoeducational testing results in a higher education setting. Through highly interactive, hands-on activities, participants will receive in-depth information about diagnostic assessment and “functional impact” as they apply to students with learning disabilities and attention disorders. We will “peel back the layers” of a diagnostic testing report, walking through informative and some “not so informative” reports and IEPS/504 plans.
We will discuss the individual subtests and sections of diagnostic testing reports that:
- provide information for determining appropriate accommodations, such as extended test time, note-taking, reduced course load, course substitution, etc.;
- support students’ understanding of their strengths and selecting a “good fit” major or minor;
- guide faculty, tutors, and supplemental instructors in supporting individual students.
Fully understanding the content of diagnostic assessment reports gives disability resource professionals invaluable tools for addressing access barriers and determining appropriate accommodations for individual students. Join us to learn more about the reports you have from students and understand how “professional judgment” is an important part of the total, over-arching diagnostic process.
PC#5- From Problem to Possibility: Using Coaching Skills to Manage Student Challenges
Christina Fabrey, Prescott College
Jodi Sleeper-Triplett, JST Coaching and Training
Conversations can become heated very quickly, and before long it can feel like a situation is out of control, or you’ve missed an opportunity to make an impact. When students, parents, faculty, and administrators approach you with challenges, they typically bring frustration, anger, and anxiety with them. This can make it difficult to have a meaningful, productive conversation and is where coaching skills can make a difference. Coaching strategies help shift problems to possibilities, illuminate alternate perspectives and choices, and identify realistic, attainable goals.
This two-day, hands-on workshop will help disability resource professionals feel more confident leading difficult dialogues. Participants will learn strategies for facilitating conversations that maintain civility and foster positive outcomes and will acquire coaching tools to prevent conversations from escalating. Life coaching, with an ADHD/EF/LD component, provides a platform for discovery for students, especially those who see themselves as stuck and without power to change their situations. Through the use of core coaching principles, disability support providers can turn a sour conversation into a productive one.
Strategies we’ll explore include:
- Listen to Learn: Listening is one of the most important skills for disability support professionals. Being listened to helps students feel valued and heard, which helps builds trust in a system where students may feel disadvantaged.
- Inquiry for Insight: At the core of coaching models is the premise that each of us is creative, resourceful and whole. With this in mind, coaches draw the brilliance out of others. They ask questions that move students out of the past into action, focusing on the what and how, instead of the why to seeking reasonable solutions.
- Awareness to Accountability: Coaching conversations can help students to tap into their metacognition to build awareness and create action.
Participants will practice using coaching skills with partners throughout the workshop to experience the effectiveness of coaching conversations. On day two, we will take a deeper dive into common student challenges using case studies and participant scenarios. We will practice coaching skills to shift students’ perspectives around their choices and actions, leading to more successful outcomes.
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