2021 VIRTUAL Management Institutes: February 5-12, 2021

Not to be deterred from its tradition of in-depth professional development programming each February, AHEAD is moving its 15th annual Management Institution online. We’re offering the same high caliber presenters and timely topics we have in the past in a virtual format that we hope will allow for more participation from those who have not had budget to travel.

The four in-depth Institutes cover a range of topics for disability service professionals, student affairs staff and administrators, and anyone working toward equity in higher education. AHEAD’s Management Institutes are facilitated by nationally-recognized faculty and offer opportunities for networking and individual support. We hope that the virtual format this year will allow for more participation from those with limited travel budgets.

While participants are traditionally limited to ONE two-day Institute for an in-depth focus on a specific topic, the virtual schedule allows energetic professionals to participate in more than one Institute this year. Please note the MWF and TTh schedules. The following Institutes and shorter workshop will be offered in mid-February.

Friday, February 5, 2021
1:00-4:00 EASTERN time – 3-hours of instruction
Monday & Wednesday, February 8 & 10, 2021
11:00-2:00 & 3:00-5:00 EASTERN time; daily - 10-hours of instruction
Monday, Wednesday & Friday, February 8, 10, and 12, 2021
12:00-1:30 & 3:00-4:30 EASTERN time; daily - 9-hours of instruction
Tuesday & Thursday, February 9 & 11, 2021
11:00-2:00 & 3:00-5:00 EASTERN time; daily - 10-hours of instruction
Tuesday & Thursday, February 9 & 11, 2021
11:00-2:00 & 3:00-5:00 EASTERN time; daily - 10-hours of instruction


AHEAD has applied for CRCC continuing education credit for all programs and offers a certificate of attendance for interested participants.

Workshop A: Autism: A Foundational Review

Jane Thierfeld-Brown, College Autism Spectrum

For those interested in solidifying your basic understanding of autism spectrum in general, we are offering an optional, 3-hour introductory session to catch you up before the two-day Institute. In the introductory session, we’ll review autism spectrum as neurological condition, describe the challenges students with autism often face in college, and discuss common accommodations and valuable supports. You can elect to take this workshop without registering for any other Institute if you would like.

Friday, February 5, 2021
1:00-4:00 EASTERN time – 3-hours of instruction
Cost: $59 member-rate; $99 non-members before January 15, 2021


Institute #1: An Autism Academy: Building Systems that Work

Jane Thierfeld Brown, College Autism Spectrum
Laurie Ackles, College Autism Spectrum

Approximately 50,000 students with autism graduate from high school each year and about 35% of them go on to higher education. With this high prevalence, most disability resource professionals have had the opportunity to work with students on the spectrum, their parents, and their faculty members. However, even the most seasoned may be unsure of how to implement effective support systems, especially in times of rapid change, such as we’ve seen during the pandemic. Whether you’re interested in reexamining your understandings, language, and skills in negotiating the intersection of autism and campus policies, practices, and expectations or need a foundational background in working with students on the spectrum, we’ve got you covered!

College students on the autism spectrum bring a rich and valuable diversity to our campuses. However, for some, the college experience comes with sensory overload, emotional regulation issues, and other difficulties that challenge them in navigating the many academic and social demands of higher education. In this two-day, 10-hour virtual training, we will examine neurodiverse behavior as a function of sensory integration/understanding and discuss ways that college and university communities can create more welcoming environments. We’ll discuss:

  • Transition essentials;
  • Strategies for supporting students in unique classroom situations and residence hall settings;
  • Title IX issues and appropriate accommodations for both training and compliance;
  • Ideas for explaining necessary conduct as "non-optional;”
  • Training for faculty, staff, and other campus personnel that can lessen behavioral consequences for students
  • Ways to guide parents to support their college-aged children in new and appropriate ways;
  • Strategies for alleviating the stigma often associated with neurodiverse behavior through creative thinking, education, and awareness on the part of the entire campus community.

Taking advantage of the need to engage remotely, we will have the opportunity to hear from guest speakers with autism who will share their unique view of the higher education experience and perspectives on effective supports. We will also take advantage of Zoom breakout rooms to encourage networking and provide the opportunity for hands-on, supported learning.

Monday & Wednesday, February 8 & 10, 2021
11:00-2:00 & 3:00-5:00 EASTERN time; daily - 10-hours of instruction
Cost: $225 member rate; $325 non-members before January 15, 2021


Institute # 2: Introduction to Disability Law for DSS Directors, Staff, and ADA Officers

Paul Grossman, J.D., OCR and Hastings College of Law, retired
Jamie Axelrod, M.S., Northern Arizona University
Mary Lee Vance, Ph.D., California State University Sacramento

Participation in an in-depth, foundational legal session with this highly-respected trio of disability resource/legal experts has become almost a requisite for disability resource professionals in higher education. Hundreds of AHEAD members reference information they learned or solidified from these presentations as foundational to their work. While we regret that this year’s Management Institute must be a virtual event, we also recognize that it provides disability resource professionals who cannot travel to conferences the opportunity to benefit from this extraordinary professional development presentation. 

Derived from the traditional Introduction course, this nine-hour virtual training will give DS, ADA, disability law practitioners, and compliance professionals an indispensable set of analytical tools (“paradigms”) to guide them in resolving their most challenging cases and compliance questions under the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, as amended and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.  In 90-minute segments, the presenters will cover:

  • How we got here: the intersectional social, political, and legal battles that got us the laws and regulations upon which we rely in protecting our students from disability discrimination.
  • An introduction to four paradigms and how they are reflected in the regulations implementing Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 as well as Titles II & III of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, as amended.
  • The paradigm for determining for who is “an individual with a disability”?
  • The key paradigm: “qualified student with a disability (QSD)” including defenses to claims of discrimination against a QSD. 
  • Process, process, process: procedures for resolving QSD questions, including whether a proposed accommodation is a fundamental alteration or an undue burden.
  • “Reasonable accommodation” by any other name: “academic adjustments,” “auxiliary aids and services” --- what’s required/what’s not.

In order to include time for questions, registration for the class will be limited. Please register as soon as possible to secure your seat.  

 Monday, Wednesday & Friday, February 8, 10 & 12, 2021
12:00-1:30 & 3:00-4:30 EASTERN time; daily - 9-hours of instruction
Cost: $275 member rate; $375 non-members before January 15, 2021; includes a copy of The Law of Disability Discrimination for Higher Education Professionals, by Colker & Grossman


Institute #3: Equitable and Effective Access in Online Learning Environments

Rachel Kruzel, Assistive Technology, Accessibility, and Transition Consultant 

While accelerated by the pandemic, online courses and academic content shared in online environments are here to stay! Given this shift, it is essential that all digital educational environments students may encounter be evaluated and made accessible. While the online format can reduce or even remove some barriers to access for students with disabilities, it can also introduce a variety of new challenges for students, DS staff, and faculty. Disability resource professionals must be ready to recommend tools and accommodations that support students who encounter barriers in the online environment and to encourage the remediation of those barriers.

From initial contact with the disability resource staff to arranging for and using accommodations to establishing relationships with faculty, the online environment demands new processes and skills. How do we flip common accommodations to make them effective in online academic experiences? How do we determine whether an accommodation that is effective in the classroom also works and is necessary in a virtual course? How do we build and leverage partnerships with faculty, technology staff, curriculum designers, and other campus stakeholders to work towards ensuring that digital accessibility is built-in into the framework of online learning?

In this Institute, we will answer these questions and more as we focus on breaking open the online learning environment and understanding why access is important from the ground up. We'll discuss common access tools and accommodations, including technologies and strategies for online test-taking, note-taking, executive functioning, and tools for disability resource professionals to use to support students and DS work. We'll explore key methods and strategies to ensure students have equitable access to their courses while providing these supports in an efficient and effective way for both you and them. Topics include:

  • Understanding the difference between online and traditional, seated courses from an accessibility perspective;
  • Identifying barriers created by online courses and programs;
  • Discussing best practices in coordinating accommodations for students with disabilities in online courses on a case-by-case basis;
  • Developing strategies for taking a proactive approach to online course access;
  • Determine the role technology plays in creating accessible learning opportunities.

You don't have to be a digital accessibility expert to work towards a more inclusive online learning experience. We'll ensure you have the baseline knowledge to promote access, as well as a strategic vision of the essential partnerships that will increase accessibility proactively and decrease the need for retroactive accommodations. 

Tuesday & Thursday, February 9 & 11, 2021
11:00-2:00 & 3:00-5:00 EASTERN time; daily - 10-hours of instruction
Cost: $225 member rate; $325 non-members before January 15, 2021


Institute #4: An Introduction to Managing Accommodations for Students in Health Science and Professional Education 

Elisa Laird, J.D., Samuel Merritt University
Jon McGough, M.Ed., Western Washington University

Schools that offer health science programs, including Medical, Podiatry, Nursing, Dental, Pharmacy, Speech/Language, Physical or Occupational Therapy, Physician Assistant, Veterinary, or other programs, face unique challenges when creating reasonable accommodations for health science and professional students with disabilities. This introduction to disability accommodations in the health sciences will provide an overview of how to address complex accommodation requests in classroom, lab, and clinical environments. Common challenges include the lock-step nature of most programs, determining appropriate accommodations in patient care settings, meeting technical standards, and planning proactively to anticipate accommodation needs in clinical environments. 

The presenters will cover the basic tenets of practicing in this specialization, including the most relevant OCR decisions and court cases, and participants will have opportunities to work through basic scenarios.

Throughout the Institute, participants will gain:

  • a practical overview of disability laws and how they apply to the health sciences, with attention to how disability laws relate to health science clinical settings;
  • an understanding of the interactive process that occurs between disability professionals, faculty, staff, and the student when determining reasonable accommodations in clinical and lab environments (such as fieldwork, internships, clerkships, preceptorships, etc., as well as OSCEs, sim labs, cadaver labs, etc.);
  • information on how to identify when a potential accommodation may affect the integrity of the learning outcomes, compromise patient safety, or challenge technical standards;
  • an appreciation of the importance of giving prospective recently admitted, and enrolled students clear, written policies and procedures;
  • tips for developing clear processes for faculty and staff;
  • ideas for working with students and faculty to improve communication around disability-related needs and implementing accommodations;
  • skills for training faculty, including “myth busting” regarding students with disabilities in health science programs and addressing common concerns about patient safety, essential requirements, and technical standards; and advising faculty and administrators who may instinctively slip from the role of faculty into their roles as health care providers when working with students with disabilities.

Participants will leave this training with tools to aid in decision-making, policy development, and leading faculty/staff development trainings.

Tuesday & Thursday, February 9 & 11, 2021
11:00-2:00 & 3:00-5:00 EASTERN time; daily - 10-hours of instruction
Cost: $275 member rate; $375 non-members before January 15, 2021, includes a copy of Equal Access for Students with Disabilities The Guide for Health Science and Professional Education, Second Edition (2020)

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Institute Faculty

Laurie Ackles
Laurie Ackles, LMSW is the Director of the Spectrum Support Program at Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT), which provides specialized supports to over 100 autistic students each year. She also manages RIT’s Neurodiverse Hiring Initiative, a gift-funded project aimed at preparing neurodivergent job seekers for the job search, educating employers about the value of neurodiversity, and creating opportunities to bridge the gap between them. Laurie is a higher education consultant with College Autism Spectrum (CAS) and an advisor to Untapped Group, an Australia-based neurodiversity hub community of practice.

Jamie Axelrod

Jamie Axelrod, M.S. is the Director of Disability Resources at Northern Arizona University and a 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 respected contributor to professional listservs, having received the Fink-Ryan Award for the quality of his guidance, and 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.

Jane Thierfeld Brown
Jane Thierfeld Brown is Director of College Autism Spectrum, former Assistant Clinical Professor at Yale Child Study, Yale Medical School, and former Director of Student Services at the University of Connecticut School of Law. Jane has worked in Disability Services for 40 years, holds an Ed.D. from Columbia University Teachers College, and received an honorary Doctorate of Letters from Muhlenberg College in 2020. She consults with many families, students, school districts, and institutions of higher education. Jane has appeared on Good Morning America, CBS News, and NPR and co- authored “Students with Asperger’s: A Guide for College Professionals,” “The Parent’s Guide to College for Students on the Autism Spectrum,” and “Behavior Management and Self-Regulation,” along with many textbook chapters and articles. Jane received the Ron Blosser Dedicated Service Award from AHEAD in 2019. She is married and has three children, the youngest being a 28 year old son with Autism.


Paul Grossman

Paul Grossman, J.D. served as a civil rights attorney for the U.S. Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights (OCR), serving as its Chief Regional Attorney in San Francisco for 30 years. He is currently an Adjunct Professor of Disability Law at Hasting College of Law, University of California, and a member of the AHEAD Board of Directors, the Public Policy Committee of the Association for Children and Adults with AD/HD (CHADD), and the Disability Rights Advocates (DRA) Expert Advisory Board. Dr. Grossman has worked on every type of education discrimination and investigated, written decisions, and settled hundreds of disability discrimination cases, often developing new approaches to protecting students with disabilities. He is the coauthor of The Law of Disability Discrimination (8th Edition) and its companion publication, Law of Disability Discrimination Handbook: Statues and Regulatory Guidance.

Rachel Kruzel
Rachel Kruzel, ATP is an Assistive Technology, Digital Accessibility and Transition Consultant. Rachel spent the last ten years working as an Assistive Technology Specialist in the disability resource offices at two colleges and universities in Minnesota. During her time in higher ed, she built and developed assistive technology programs at both schools and coordinated the provision testing, notetaking and alternative format accommodations. Rachel also helped to lead the campus-wide digital accessibility initiatives and EIT Committee at both institutions. She is Rachel is a national expert in the areas of assistive technology, digital accessibility, alternative format course materials, and accommodation provision around testing and notetaking. Rachel presents both regionally and nationally on these topics and others and consults with students, parents, schools, and organizations.

Elisa Laird
 Elisa Laird, J.D. is the Director of the Disability Resource Center at Samuel Merritt University, an institution devoted exclusively to heath science education. She previously worked at the University of California, San Francisco and Golden Gate University School of Law. She is the Legal Advisor for the Coalition for Disability Access in Health Science and Medical Education, a national collaboration among peer institutions that develops and disseminates best practices regarding disability accommodations in health science and medical education programs. She has worked as a university Deaf Services Coordinator/Interpreter and later as a disability rights attorney and public health policy attorney before returning to university disability resources. Elisa’s extensive background in law, disability, and public health provide her with a unique perspective on the future of disability in higher education. She is a seasoned presenter and author of numerous publications.
Jon McGough
Jon McGough, M.Ed. manages the Disability Access Center at Western Washington University in Bellingham, Washington. He was previously the Associate Director of the Disability Resources for Students office at the University of Washington - Seattle, working with students in the Schools of Medicine, Nursing and Pharmacy. Jon served on the Board of the Coalition for Disability Access in Health Science and Medical Education and is Past-President of the Washington Association on Postsecondary Education and Disability. He has over 10 years’ experience in higher education, determining accommodations and providing consultation on ADA compliance matters of digital and physical access.  Jon’s adventures in disability services began on a construction crew specializing in custom home modifications for people with disabilities and evolved into a career of disability rights work.

Mary Lee Vance
Mary Lee Vance, Ph.D. is the Director of Services to Students with Disabilities at California State University Sacramento. She has served at every level of higher education, in a wide range of postsecondary positions, as well as in academia. Mary Lee was the Director of the Disabled Students’ Program and Student Support Services TRiO program at the University of California, Berkeley and the director of disability services at University of Montana, at George Mason University, along with its two-year satellite campuses, and at the University of Wisconsin, Superior. She has also directed other student services units, including academic advisement and career services, and taught undergraduate and graduate courses, including an introduction to disability studies. Mary Lee is the co-editor of Beyond the Americans with Disabilities Act: Proactively Planning for Accessible Post-Secondary Educational Offerings Now and into the Future and Advising Students with Disabilities: Developing Universal Success and the editor of DISABLED Faculty and Staff in a Disabling Society: Multiple Perspectives in Higher Education.

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Costs & Registration Information

On or before January 15, 2021:

  • Institute 1 & 3: $225 AHEAD Members; $325 Non-Members
  • Institutes 2 & 4: $275 AHEAD Members; $375 Non-Members, includes copy of seminal text in the area mailed to your home
  • Workshop A: $59 Members; $99 Non-Members

After January 15, 2021:

  • Institute 1 & 3: $325 AHEAD Members; $425 Non-Members
  • Institutes 2 & 4: $375 AHEAD Members; $475 Non-Members, includes copy of seminal text in the area mailed to your home
  • Workshop A: $99 Members; $149 Non-Members

Refunds can only be provided for cancellations received in writing on or before January 15th, 2021. A $75.00 administrative fee will be charged for all cancellations. We regret that no refunds can be issued after January 15th, 2021. for any reason but can be transferred to another attendee from the same institution.



  • All presentations will be hosted in Zoom webinars and include human-generated captions.
  • You must have a Zoom account to participate. You can create one for free at https://zoom.us/freesignup/. We recommend updating your account to the most recent version of Zoom.
  • Accommodation requests, including captioning and interpreting, must be made by no later than January 15, 2021.
  • Recordings of all presentations will be available to send to registrants the week of February 15, 2021.

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