2023 AHEAD Start


A Training for New and Newer Disability Resource Personnel

A Three Day, Online Training

October 17-19, 2023

For the past five years, the AHEAD Start Academy has offered a foundational experience to disability resource professionals who are just building or continuing to grow their fundamental knowledge and skills. This year’s Academy will be a virtual experience that includes a year-long mentoring component to again offer newer professionals the opportunity to explore, discuss, and apply concepts important to building equity on college campuses. AHEAD membership through the end of the calendar year is included in the conference registration fee.
As always, the Academy is designed to orient, refresh, and engage. We’ll begin with a foundation in disability history, social justice, and civil rights. After framing disability, we’ll cover essential legal principles, documentation considerations, the interactive process, and reasonable accommodation decision-making. We’ll consider common and emerging issues, service coordination, and outreach. Topics include:
  • Disability as a civil right: examination of the history of the disability rights movement, discussion about disability in society today, 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.
  • Outreach and consultation: campus leadership and influence.
To build community and provide opportunities for networking and group support, the three-day October component of Academy will be synchronous. Therefore, to be fully immersed in the content, discussions, and activities, we recommend participants connect away from the daily demands of their jobs, from a home office or a private location. While we appreciate the challenge of finding that space and will record sessions for later viewing for necessary absences, participating in this event as though it were an in-person training will provide the most benefit. Please review the Academy schedule to block the time out of your schedule now.
During the Academy week in October, participants will be paired with a small cohort group lead by a long-term AHEAD member mentor. The week’s schedule will include an initial opportunity for engagement with the group mentor and peers to establish relationships that will provide connections and support over the course of the next year in ongoing monthly discussions and Q&A sessions.
If you are in your first three years of higher education / disability resource work, have gaps in your knowledge that a review of foundational concepts would help to fill, or are interested in a sustained cohort/mentoring opportunity, this training/mentoring program may be exactly what you’re looking for. Whether you work alone, with a large staff, or address disability as one component of a larger role, join us for this comprehensive introduction to a dynamic field. 

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Tuesday-Thursday, October 17-19, 2023

We will engage throughout the day in synchronous learning via Zoom. Because time zones vary, participants should plan to be involved with the Academy activities for approximately 6 hours/day between the hours of 8:00-2:00 Pacific/11:00-5:00 Eastern. An hour-long lunch break plus two shorter breaks will be incorporated each day, to let you step away from the computer. However, participants will benefit the most if they dedicate these three days to the Academy and separate themselves from their daily work during this time.

Follow-up Sessions & Cohort/Mentor Meetings:

During the AHEAD Start Academy session on Thursday afternoon, each mentor cohort group will choose a mutually agreeable date and time to meet monthly for the next 11 months. This time can be used however the group finds most beneficial—for sharing information, asking questions, sounding board opportunities, or moral support.

The schedule is as follows (all times Eastern):

Tuesday, October 17

11-1:30Introductory/foundational information on disability (history, narratives, models, perspectives)

1:30-2:30—Lunch break

2:30-5Legal foundations of our work

Wednesday, October 18:

11-1:30Interactive process: student interview, documentation, and decision-making in context

1:30-2:30—Lunch break

2:30-5 —Outreach and consultation: campus leadership and influence

Thursday, October 19:

11-12:30 —Q&A Panel with all four panelists


1-2:30—Scenarios/activities—Applying knowledge in context


3-4—Mentor/mentee introduction sessions—Individual Zoom sessions led by each mentor

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AHEAD Start Academy Pricing

Registration on or before September 30, 2023

  • AHEAD members: $395 
  • Non-AHEAD members: $495 

Registration after September 30, 2023

  • AHEAD members: $470 
  • Non-AHEAD members: $570

Refund Policy

Registration canceled before October 1 will incur a $75 charge. No refunds are available after October 1.

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Bea Awoniyi
Bea Awoniyi, Ph.D. is the Assistant Vice President of Student Affairs at Santa Fe College, overseeing the disability resource center, serves as Ombudsperson, and helps to oversee grant awards among many other different aspects of her role. Dr. Awoniyi has a long career in higher education, previously having worked in other universities at their disability resource centers and serving in vast leadership roles. She is a Past President and Board member of AHEAD.

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.

Amanda Kraus

Dr. Amanda Kraus is Assistant Vice President for Campus Life and Executive Director for Disability Resources at the University of Arizona. UA’s Disability Resource Center is one of the largest in the nation, and considered an international model of progressive service delivery, uniquely positioned to approach campus access systemically. Dr. Kraus is also Associate Professor of Practice in UA’s Center for the Study of Higher Education where she coordinates the MA program and teaches courses on student services and disability in higher education. She looks to disability studies to inform research and teaching that challenges deficit or tragedy rhetoric on disability and frame disability in the context of social justice, shaped by dynamics of power and privilege. Dr. Kraus is President of the Association of Higher Education and Disability (AHEAD) Board of Directors and has had the privilege of delivering keynote addresses and facilitating workshops around the country and internationally. Dr. Kraus earned her MA and Ph.D. at the University of Arizona in Higher Education.

Adam Meyer, Ph.D.

Adam Meyer, Ph.D., is the Director of Student Accessibility Services at the University of Central Florida. He was previously the Director of disability resource offices at Eastern Michigan University and Saint Louis University. Adam has served on the AHEAD Board of Directors and AHEAD Standing Committees while routinely involved with other AHEAD projects. He regularly presents on documentation, the social model of disability, leadership and office operations, initial student interviews, office data, and budgetary basics. Adam worked in the intellectual disability field for nearly 10 years prior to working in higher education.

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