2024 Virtual Mini-Conference Session Descriptions

All Times Eastern

Tuesday, July 30

Wednesday, July 31

Thursday, August 1

Keynote Presentation (Recorded in Baltimore)

Keri Gray  is a cancer survivor, entrepreneur, speaker, and facilitator. She is the CEO of the Keri Gray Consulting Group, where they strive to create professional communities of understanding through disability and racial justice education. She is also founder of the National Alliance of Melanin Disabled Advocates (the NAMED Advocates), which creates spaces for disabled leaders of color and BIPOC allies to gather, learn, connect, and grow around racial and disability justice.
Through her various roles, Keri has recruited approximately 4,000 professionals for over 100 organizations and Fortune 500 companies. She has also designed and managed programs for over 1,000 professionals that have helped participants secure competitive employment, identify transferable skills, build an influential network, and gain notable opportunities. Keri’s work has been featured in Teen Vogue, the New York Times, People Magazine, Time Magazine, PBS NewsHour, Madamenoire, and the Diet Coke campaign #Unlabeled.

Tuesday, July 30

11:00 – 12:30 Block V1 (2 concurrent sessions)


V1.1: Legal Year in Review

*This session will not be recorded at the request of the speakers, so it is only available live. It will not be included in the session recording package.

Paul Grossman J.D., Executive Counsel of AHEAD, and OCR and Hastings College of Law, retired 
Jamie Axelrod, Northern Arizona University
AHEAD’s legal experts will analyze court cases and OCR letters from the past year of great significance to AHEAD members.


V1.2: Postsecondary Disability Resources and Accessibility - Where are we going and how did we get here?

Ian Kunkes Ed.D., EdPros
Enjie Hall, University of Minnesota
Jon McGough, University of California, San Francisco
Charnessa Warren, University of Chicago
Maria Schiano,  MSW, County College of Morris

In 2024, we find ourselves at a turning point in the disability resources and accessibility field. Our profession is experiencing a changing higher education landscape, significant technological advances, the impact of the pandemic, a move towards social justice, a rise in student advocacy, and more. This panel features an all-star group of leaders to address three questions:

  1. What are the most salient and noteworthy trends you are experiencing across postsecondary disability resources and higher education, today? 
  2. How did we get here (history, milestones, societal trends)? 
  3. What do you see as the key areas of focus we should be considering for the next decade and how can we start preparing for the future, today?


12:30 – 1:00 Break


1:00 – 2:30 Block V2 (3 concurrent sessions)

V2.1: Barriers to Access and Equity in Higher Ed: The Role of Documentation in the Accommodation Process

Christine Lew, University of Washington
Olivia Acuff, University of Washington 
Davi Kallman Ph.D, Pierce College

With growing research and awareness about how access to the medical system is not equitable for students of color, undocumented students, queer, trans, and nonbinary students, and more- how can we rethink our reliance on third party medical documentation in disability services offices? Presenters will cover the legal frameworks of documentation, the models of disability that it perpetuates, research on who is most impacted by those requirements, and showcase the new systems in disability services to improve equity and access from the University of Washington and Tacoma Community College. This presentation is meant to be an interactive conversation, challenging us all to think about what we can do differently.

V2.2: Supporting Autistic Students Through College Transitions

Amy Rutherford LPC-MHSP, M.Ed., University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, College Autism Spectrum
Emily Raclaw MS, LPC, CRC, Marqette University
Brittany Jackson Ed.D.,  Hiram College, The College Autism Network
Beth Roland M.A., C.A.G.S,  Santa Fe College
Sabrina Saucier, Santa Fe College

As more autistic students are enrolled in college than ever before, there is a need for Disability Service providers to consider supports and opportunities for these students during transitions into and out of college programs. This panel will explore support mechanisms at four institutions around students’ transition into and out of college programs and will offer insights from research which centers autistic students’ experiences.

V2.3: Creating Access for Graduate Students:  A Panel of Perspectives

Joanne Benica M.S., CRC, Johns Hopkins University
Margaret Camp MEd, Clemson University
David Paquette M.Ed., Northeastern University
Alexis Lambert M.Ed., Northeastern University

Equal access accommodations for graduate students are not simply an extension of accommodations provided in an undergraduate setting. Graduate programs are often highly specialized and in many graduate programs, the classroom teaching shifts from theory to real life application. Graduate students report that their experience is significantly different than their undergraduate experience, with less emphasis on exams and more on application of knowledge in written format, oral presentations, group projects, etc. Additionally, the graduate environment can often resemble the work environment with heavy emphasis on laboratory and research activities which requires collaboration with faculty and other students. How are accommodations different? How should practitioners think differently about the accommodations provided? It is imperative that disability services professionals understand the nuances of providing accommodations to graduate students. This panel presentation will explore these questions and perspectives will be shared about best practices for ensuring access to graduate students with disabilities.  


2:30 – 3:30 Break


3:30 – 5:00 Block V3 (3 concurrent sessions)

V3.1: Determining Clinical Accommodations: Building Confidence as a Health Science Disability Professional

Matthew Sullivan PhD, Washington University in St. Louis
Grace Clifford MAEd, David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA
This session addresses the role of institutions in accommodating students during clinical experiences, emphasizing the need for clarity and examples in determining accommodations. The presenters explore specific clinical accommodations supported nationwide, such as Rotation Decompression, Assistive Technology, and Site Location Specifications. The session delves into the nuances of the interactive process when determining clinical accommodations, highlighting why certain accommodations may be site/rotation-specific or vary between health science programs. Additionally, it emphasizes the importance of effectively describing accommodations in student letters. The session aims to provide practical insights and best practices for disability professionals to navigate the nuanced landscape of clinical accommodations, fostering confidence and understanding in the process.


V3.2: Advancing Equity for Deaf Students: Insights from Deaf Disability Services Professionals

Kate Lewandowski M.S., National Deaf Center on Postsecondary Outcomes 
Lore Kinast EdD, National Deaf Center on Postsecondary Outcomes
In this session, the National Deaf Center on Postsecondary Outcomes explores the multifaceted challenges of campus access for deaf students through a panel discussion of deaf disability services professionals. Highlighting the vital role of deaf staff in reducing microaggressions and affirming deaf students’ cultural identities, the discussion delves into the challenges deaf professionals face within the higher education system. Our diverse panel of deaf disability professionals will discuss effective communication accommodations utilizing a deaf-centered approach that enhances institutional compliance. Additionally, this session will also address the attitudinal barriers and micro-aggressive trauma witnessed by deaf professionals within the system. By sharing their experiences, the panel provides actionable insights for disability services professionals towards fostering understanding and driving systemic change to enhance campus equity and support the nuanced needs of deaf students. 


V3.3: Developing Written Guidance Documents for Campus Disability Offices

Tom Thompson, MA, TMLS Consulting Inc.
Disability offices function most effectively when they can create and update key operational and implementation resources, such as an operational manual for the office, a handbook or library of online resources about accommodations and access for students and faculty, or a manual for proctoring accommodated exams. The presenter, who has served in seven leadership roles for various campuses, will provide participants with "content outlines" that participants can use for starting to build or revise their own resources, including incorporating your existing practices. The presenter will also discuss the advantages of collaborating with key campus personnel outside of the disability office, including examples such as: Faculty, Deans, Facilities, IT, Instructional Development, etc., to enable the disability office to gain early understanding and buy-in from campus partners who also have responsibilities to implement accommodations and facilitate access.

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Wednesday, July 31

11:00 – 12:30 Block V4 (2 concurrent sessions)


V4.1: Office for Civil Rights - Year in Review

Mary Lou Mobley J.D., U.S. Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights (OCR)
Tashell Jenkins J.D., U.S. Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights (OCR)
Bradley Moore J.D., U.S. Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights (OCR)

The U.S. Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights assists individuals with disabilities who face discrimination and guides institutions in developing solutions to civil rights problems by investigating complaints, initiating compliance reviews, and providing technical assistance. OCR representatives will review recent, illustrative OCR decisions.

*This session will not be recorded at the request of the speakers, so it is only available live. It will not be included in the session recording package.

V4.2: Updating Disability Self-Advocacy Through the Lens of Critical Disability Studies

Beth Roland M.A., C.A.G.S., Santa Fe College
Susan (Sue) Mann Dolce Ph.D., University at Buffalo
This presentation will discuss ableism and models of self-advocacy through the lens of Critical Disability Studies. We will discuss why it is important that all disability services professionals consider these topics in their day-to-day practices. We will describe how to affirm disabled students’ experiences and knowledge when discussing self-advocacy, and how supporting their lead on these issues can facilitate institutional change. Participants will take with them actionable ideas for how they can create change at their institutions around self-advocacy for disabled students. 

12:30 – 1:00 Break


1:00 – 2:30 Block V5 (3 concurrent sessions)

V5.1: Navigating the Intersection of Title IX and Disability Support for Pregnancy and Related Conditions

Mandy Hambleton M.S., TNG Consulting, Association of Title IX Administrators
Mikiba Morehead M.A., Ed.D., TNG Consulting

The new Title IX regulations provide practitioners with a prime opportunity to revisit how institutions are providing support for individuals who are pregnant or have related conditions. Both Title IX and disability resource offices have obligations to support this population, but there is often confusion about who should provide support and when. This presentation will review the new Title IX regulations, including making a distinction between supportive measures under Title IX and reasonable accommodations under disability law, share key takeaways from recent Office for Civil Rights resolution agreements with higher education institutions regarding pregnant students, and discuss how Title IX and disability resource staffs can collaborate to develop and implement a seamless support process. Attendees will participate in a series of case studies to apply the concepts from the presentation.


V5.2: Cohesive Collaboration between Colleges and High Schools to Support Students with Disabilities

Jennifer Biggers M.Ed., University of California, Riverside
Laura Williams M.Ed., Riverside Unified School District
Pamela J. Starr Ph.D., Riverside City College
Scott Brown Ed.D., Riverside City College

K-12 systems mandate transition services/supports, but upon graduation, students are required to independently manage services/resources. How can college disability offices support high school students with disabilities for the next phase of education? Participants will have an opportunity to learn about workshops that can be presented by disability offices to district schools or community colleges. These opportunities can include service providers, student leaders with disabilities, and support agencies. Being members of academic communities and sharing resources can support transition, decrease disruptions to the student’s education, increase preparedness for post-secondary education, and support the creation of equitable educational spaces. These opportunities can guide K-12 staff and families on how to support students to be successful in all aspects of transition, including self-efficacy, self-determination, and self-advocacy.


V5.3: Beyond Accommodations: Increasing the Retention of Students with Disabilities 

Misty Parsley Ed.D., Lipscomb University
Paige Reece B.S., Lipscomb University
Abigail Davis Ph.D., Lipscomb University
This presentation will share how a small, private, liberal arts university has expanded its services to meet the needs and increase retention of students with disabilities. Some students struggle to manage some aspects of college often related to executive functioning skills. College offers many benefits in addition to the academic courses: students learn how to handle routines, self-manage, and navigate social situations. While students without disabilities typically adapt over time to the demands of college, students with disabilities often take more time to figure out how college works. With additional supports in place, however, these students can be successful in college. This presentation will share a specific program designed to meet the needs of students with disabilities who need more support beyond basic academic accommodations.

2:30 – 3:30 Break


3:30 – 5:00 Block V6 (3 concurrent sessions)

V6.1: Building and Implementing a Campus ADA Transition Plan

Gabe Merrell, Oregon State University
Emily Singer Lucio, University of Maryland
The ADA requires higher education institutions to conduct a self-assessment of physical barriers on campus and create a barrier removal plan. However, many institutions have not completed this 30+ year old requirement or need to dust it off as it has lived on a shelf for years after initial work in the 90’s and early 00’s. In recent years there has been a growing number of cases engaged by the DOJ holding public entities accountable to the physical access assessment and planning requirements of the ADA. This session will share key elements when designing and conducting a self-assessment as well as practices to consider when implementing outcomes determined by the process. This presentation includes guidance on how to structure your methodology and build effective engagement with institutional leaders in the work and brings the discussion of effective barrier removal planning back to the AHEAD community, a topic that is becoming timely again.


V6.2: Notetaking: A process in review

Clay Littrell M.Ed, UC San Francisco
Jon McGough M.Ed., UC San Francisco
Notetaking accommodation delivery has changed immensely in recent years, with new technologies such as Notability, Glean, Otter.ai, Notetaker Express, Smartpens (among others) improving the experience of students requiring notetaking assistance. With a variety of class modalities and student needs, and new OCR investigations on the topic, there is no one-size-fits all tool for notetaking accommodations. In this presentation we’ll review specific scenarios where one tool is likely better than another, provide product demos, and discuss the pros and cons of each of these tools.


V6.3: An Innovative Approach to Office Structures: Supporting Students and Faculty on Complex Requests

Abiola Mustapha PhD, University of Arizona
Mirra Matheson, University of Arizona
As the number of students with complex requests continues to rise, Disability Services at the University of Arizona has adopted an innovative approach to manage this increasing workload, often with limited additional resources. This approach includes a restructured "College Model" and expedited process for students affiliating with DRC. In this discussion, we will delve into our journey of innovation and the necessary adjustments we've made, such as the creation of two sub-teams of Access Consultants. These two teams have significantly expanded our outreach efforts across campus, enabling us to take a more proactive stance on enhancing accessibility. We will also explore fast-tracking strategies that have allowed our team to promptly determine reasonable accommodations for students without compromising the quality of our service. 

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Thursday, August 1

11:00 – 12:30 Block V7 (3 concurrent sessions)


V7.1: The New Title II Digital Access Regulations: What Institutions Should Know

Judith Risch J.D., Ph.D., Grand River Solutions
Updated Title II regulations regarding digital accessibility were released this spring, with broad implications for public higher education institutions. In this session, a former OCR attorney who provided technical guidance for the development of those regulations will explain the implications of the updates, including where they apply, what will be required, and the applicable timelines. Time for Q&A will be reserved. 


V7.2: Streamlining Housing Accommodations Processes for a More Effective Residence Life Partnership

Kathleen Camire M.A., Butler University
Shannon Mulqueen M.S. Ed, Butler University
As requests for ESAs, single rooms, and other housing accommodations continue to increase in both volume and complexity, effective collaboration with campus Residence Life has become an essential aspect of our work. Creating an intentional partnership between the two departments can help streamline the housing request process, reduce the complexity of ensuring that students’ accommodations are met, and ease some of the stress of the busy housing season for staff from both departments. In this session, participants will learn how one university streamlined their housing accommodations processes through innovation and partnership. Topics covered will include the history of a poorly managed process, shared policy-writing to improve efficiency, use of residence life software, and collaboration on knowledge and use of residence hall spaces (including the implementation of decompression rooms). Time will be left at the end for questions and discussion.


V7.3: Navigating Mental Health Disabilities as a New Professional in Disability Services

Jennifer Walsh MS, ABD, Towson University
Disability professionals come from a variety of backgrounds. Depending on your experience, you may not be feeling equipped to handle the number of students with mental health disabilities that your office sees. While there is much to learn, there are also many resources available to provide you with what you need to know to be effective in this role. While this presentation is appropriate for anyone looking to expand their knowledge in mental health, it is best suited for those newer to the field of disabilities.


12:30 – 1:00 Break


1:00 – 2:30 Block V8 (3 concurrent sessions)

V8.1: Mitigating the Intersectionality of Ableism and Racism

Lisa Yates M.Ed, Ph.D, Moreno Valley College
California community colleges are mandated to improve success outcomes for historically underrepresented students which includes students who manage dis/abilities and Black/African American students. As director of a community college Dis/ability Support program and a disability, equity, inclusion, and access champion, Dr. Yates will discuss the challenges related to improving outcomes for marginalized students who identify with both groups. There will be talk-time breaks throughout the presentation to discuss content and the presentation ends with a proposed pilot study that hopes to mitigate the dis/abling challenges that arise when ableism and racism are imposed on students. Although housed within the community college perspective, the content has application for all higher educational institutions.


V8.2: Accessing AI: The Role of Disability Services in Higher Ed’s Evolving Artificial Intelligence Relationship

Sarah Young Ed.D., Trinity Washington University

This session will tackle the issue of artificial intelligence generative (AI-G) tools as they relate to and impact students with disabilities and disability offices on college campuses today. We will overview recently developed and released examples of these AI-G tools, such as ChatGPT, as well as other updates and integrations related to AI-checkers, including TurnItIn reporting, considering benefits and negative aspects of these tools. We will also discuss newer disability-specific AI tools, such as Goblin Tools, and how disability offices might use and/or promote these tools among their campus communities as a part of universal design approaches to education. We will also provide insight and discuss first-hand accounts from disability directors about their role in providing guidance to institutional leadership and faculty about AI-G/AI use in classes and related to academic honesty, as well as considerations of AI-G/AI use and bias specific to students with disabilities. 

V8.3: Disability Access in Prison Education Programs: Lessons Learned from the Inside

Dominic Winter M.Ed., Washington State Department of Corrections
Jenifer Montag Ed.D., National Center for College Students with Disabilities (NCCSD)
Adam Kasarda, University of California, Irvine
With the reinstatement of Pell grants for incarcerated students, many colleges are looking at developing prison education programs to meet this need. Incarcerated students have a higher prevalence of disabilities compared to the general population and addressing these barriers requires an understanding of both who the students are and the unique space where they learn. What steps will your office need to take? What additional barriers do the students experience inside? What barriers do you have to contend with in facilitating accommodations in the constrained prison setting? Join a panel of professionals who will share the experience of meeting the needs of disabled students inside a variety of prison settings - each of which impact the process of providing accommodations. You will also learn how the Washington Department of Corrections approached this opportunity by leveraging research to make evidence-based decisions for program development and created a stakeholder workgroup with our partners in higher education.


2:00 – 3:30 Break


3:30 – 5:00 Block V9 (3 concurrent sessions)

V9.1: When faculty say, “No.” The interactive process to determining reasonable accommodations

Rita Inman M.A,University of Florida 
Jenna Gonzalez Ed.S, University of Florida
Have you ever met with a student and determined accommodations, just to be told no by the faculty? After a faculty receives an accommodation letter, there is always a chance they can claim the accommodation goes against the course objectives, calling it a fundamental alteration. As disability professionals, the interactive process only starts with the student. While faculty are the experts in their course and content, you are the expert in disability and access. It can sometimes be overwhelming or intimidating talking to a faculty who outright says no. In this session we will talk about how to describe access to remove barriers, what questions to ask, and how to explore alternative accommodations with the faculty.


V9.2: Make Your Data Talk: Program Review through the Lens of Assessment

Ann Knettler Ed.D., GrackleDocs, Delaware State University
Disability resource professionals are expected to participate actively in their institution’s assessment plans, documenting the effectiveness of their offices and often its impact on student learning and programming. This session will do a deep dive into what can be an uncertain process: planning for and executing a comprehensive review of your disability office. Evaluating any service starts with an understanding of professional standards, establishing program and student outcomes, and well-articulated purposes for the review. Join us as we demystify assessments and build confidence through session information and colleague sharing to plan your own strategy for conducting a useful program review.

V9.3: Tested By Faculty: Effective Collaboration for Facilitating Testing Accommodations

Lisa Diekow M.S. Ed., University of Florida
Farah Robles MSW, Florida Atlantic University

This presentation will engage program participants in an active discussion about the challenges and shifts inherent in facilitating testing accommodations. Changing world events, new technologies, navigating third-party exam platforms, lockdown browsers, ALT Text formats, to name a few, come with the necessity to relearn a variety of testing modalities and the creation of accompanying procedures for a smooth and positive testing experience. Establishing and maintaining a positive relationship with faculty and enhancing resources for their use will ultimately have a positive impact on their experience and the student experience with our offices. This presentation will highlight the experiences of two different institutions that utilize different ways to adapt to the changing times by building their relationship with faculty. We will include strategies, action steps and anecdotes! Regardless of your office size, this presentation will connect you with colleagues and share experiences for building positive relationships with faculty.

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