2022 Virtual Mini-Conference Session Descriptions

All Times Eastern

Tuesday, August 2

Wednesday, August 3

Thursday, August 4

Plenary (Recorded in Cleveland): Diversity and Inclusion in the Health Professions: The Experience of Clinicians with Disabilities

Cheri Blauwet, MD, Harvard Medical School; former Paralympic athlete

Despite the growing national recognition of disability as a valued aspect of diversity in the workforce, people with disabilities remain dramatically underrepresented in the health professions. This keynote address will review the multi-faceted barriers that have led to this systematic exclusion, as well as recent efforts to enhance opportunities for students with disabilities to pursue careers in healthcare. Ultimately, people with disabilities must be seen as a valued and essential part of the healthcare workforce.

Tuesday, August 2

Noon – 1:30 Block V1 (2 concurrent sessions)


V1.1: Legal Year in Review

This session was not recorded at the request of the speakers, and is not included in the Virtual Mini-Conference recording package.

Paul Grossman, Executive Counsel, AHEAD; Hastings College of Law and the Office of Civil Rights (retired)
Jamie Axelrod, Northern Arizona University

An in-depth analysis of court cases and OCR letters from the past year of great significance to AHEAD members.


V1.2: Fostering a Positive Office Culture as a Leader

Chester Goad, Tennessee Tech University
Zebadiah Hall, Cornell University
Maranda Maxey, Appalachian State University

Adam Meyer, University of Central Florida

Kristie Orr, Texas A&M University
Charnessa Warren, University of Chicago

Tom Webb, Wright State University

In the past two years, the office environment has changed for many to include some remote and hybrid work. As managers, it is incumbent on us to foster a positive culture for our teams. Non-managers also play a leadership role on their teams and campuses, and have an important influence on how offices function together. A panel of experienced disability office leaders will provide insight about how they encouraged connections between team members, how they help to navigate through changes and conflict, and how fun continues to be incorporated to support a collaborative and positive culture within the team. The panel will share techniques for building cohesive teams and supporting team members through tough times.


1:30 – 2:00 Break


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

V2.1: Meeting Faculty in their Domain: Collaboration Tips and Techniques for Increasing Accessibility within the Classroom

Michelle Shaw, Florida Atlantic University
Craig Levins, Broward College

As we approach the 15th anniversary of the ADAAA of 2008, educational opportunities for disabled students, some of whom did not even qualify for college a few years ago, continues to increase. Along with these opportunities, increased challenges have arisen for which many faculty are ill prepared. In this presentation, professionals from a state university and a community college demonstrate how they successfully bridged this gap through collaborative interactive processes with faculty that increased access and accommodations while bolstering student success. We will share how these approaches have worked through both 4-year and 2-year systems, while meeting the individual needs of these very different institutions of higher learning. The presentation will conclude with special focus on the collaborative approaches used to proactively increase accessible course content within two different course management systems.


V2.2: Discussion and Collaboration on Accommodating Students with Sensory Disabilities Since COVID

Ann Fredricksen, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
Tina Cowsert, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

Media and materials are used in diverse settings and ways within each course, therefore accommodations are not always straightforward. Making sure the individual needs of each student are met can take some brainstorming and cooperation between staff members, as well as teaching staff. The Access Specialist/Coordinator for Live Captioning and Interpreting and the Coordinator for Accessible Media Services will describe how they handle the complex accommodation requests that students with sensory disabilities sometimes encounter, and how COVID and the pandemic had a large impact on services for students with sensory disabilities. Learn what services and software are working best for us and our student population, as well as discuss with your fellow colleagues to learn about their unique ways to overcome barriers on their campuses.


V2.3: Examining NonDisabled Privilege in Disability and Higher Education

Melanie Thornton, University of Arkansas

The majority of respondents to the 2020 Biennial AHEAD Survey reported being nondisabled. Assuming this accurately reflects our profession, our field continues to be dominated by people who experience nondisabled privilege. When we look at the work we do through a social justice lens, we recognize that this is a very different dynamic than we would likely find in professional work that addresses other types of marginalization and discrimination. This places us, as a profession, in a challenging position. It requires a very intentional strategy for avoiding the perpetuation of nondisabled people having power over Disabled people. It requires a stance of cultural humility which, as defined by Trevalon and Murray-Garcia includes “a life-long process of self-reflection, self-critique, continual assessment of power imbalances." In this session, we'll define nondisabled privilege, consider the history of our profession and the ways it has perpetuated marginalization and oppression, examine our own nondisabled privilege, and explore ways we can use our privilege to create more equitable environments. The target audience for this session is nondisabled professionals but the voices of our Disabled colleagues are invited and welcomed!


3:00 – 3:30 Break


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

V3.1: What Is the True Barrier Here? Collaborating With Students to Accurately Assess Their Access Issues

Jamie Axelrod, Northern Arizona University
Adam Meyer, University of Central Florida

A critical role for staff working Disability/Accessibility offices is engaging with students to identify barriers, elicit their experience, identify potential effective accommodations, provide information which supports their eligibility and requests, and follow up if issues or additional barriers arise. However, that process can go astray if we have not accurately identified the barrier to access. When that happens, our approaches may not be effective because we are not focused on the issues truly causing the barrier. While students can often explain their experience in detail, they may misidentify the barrier. This session will look at practical methods professionals can use to accurately identify barriers to access and work collaboratively with the student to develop approaches that target the actual issue.


V3.2: AHEAD FAILCON: Preparing For Your Next Mistake

Margaret Camp, Clemson University
Chester Goad, Tennessee Tech University

As our offices evolve with new generations, new technologies, and ever-changing campus cultures, innovation is necessary but often stifled by fear of failure. We can practice resilience and leverage growth through mistakes. As mentors, we can support students as they experience their own failures by modelling confidence and persistence. In this session, attendees will learn new perspectives on failure and new practices to reconceptualize the role failure plays in integrity and success. 


V3.3: Equitable Crisis Management Practices: The Importance of Collaboration Between Disability Services, Case Management, & Community Standards

Grace Clifford, UCLA
Ali Martin Scoufield, Cleveland State University

Institutions of Higher Education across the country are experiencing an increased need for on-campus case and crisis management services. A need reinforced and amplified by the impact of a global pandemic that has exacerbated many disabilities for students. Our university has developed an innovative, cross-campus collaborative model that creates unique opportunities for enhanced, holistic student support to address complex needs. Presenters will outline the benefits of a Disability Services and CARE Management centered approach to supporting students and addressing behavior concerns, as well as review methods for creating curricular and co-curricular approaches to crisis and disability management.  

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Wednesday, August 3

Noon – 1:30 Block V4 (2 concurrent sessions)


V4.1: OCR Year in Review

This session was not recorded at the request of the speakers, and is not included in the Virtual Mini-Conference recording package.

Chandra Baldwin, U.S. Office of Civil Rights, Department of Education
Karla Ussery, U.S. Office of Civil Rights, Department of Education

The 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.


V4.2: Health Science

Lisa Meeks, University of Michigan Medical School
Grace Clifford, University of California, Los Angeles
Christine Low, Icahn School of Medicine
Emily Magee, Eastern Virginia Medical School
Matthew Sullivan, Washington University in St. Louis

Drawing on recent advancements and triumphs in disability inclusion, the President and President-Elect of the Coalition on Disability Access in Health Science Education will challenge the audience to seize this moment, building on the current momentum and to celebrate the successes and the increased recognition of how critical Disability Resource Professionals are to this space. This talk will also include the recommendations and progressive practices that shape and inform current best practices, reviewing the top five things that every Health and Allied Health program must do now. The session concludes with a 30-minute Q&A with audience members.


1:30 – 2:00 Break


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

V5.1: Disability Services and Housing Services: A Powerful Team

Sarah Young, Trinity Washington University

When it comes to student accommodations in housing, creating and implementing accommodations is a shared process between two offices with sometimes differing priorities. This session will offer a deep dive into the joint process for developing housing accommodations, and provide tips and guidance on how Disability offices and Housing offices can remain connected during stressful times to ensure students remain supported while also ensuring each office maintains its standards and practices.


V5.2: After the Lockdown: The Perceptions, Experiences, and Real Time Decisions of Disability Resource Professionals Made to Support Disabled Students

Katherine Aquino, St. John’s University

This session will present data collected from a national project exploring the experiences and perceptions of DRPs during the COVID-19 pandemic. Specifically, three distinct data collections - two survey data collections in May and December 2020 and one round of interviews in July 2021 - explored postsecondary disability support services. In addition to discussing major themes and implications, this session will also include the experiences of disability resource professionals from specific institutional settings, including community colleges and Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs). 


V5.3: Disability and Critical Race Theory: How DisCrit Helps Disability Professionals Change Higher Education

Vivian Hardison, Southern Illinois University at Carbondale

CRT in the K-12 setting has recently been covered extensively in the media, however CRT is mostly taught and applied in higher education due to its complexity. Disability and CRT (DisCrit) explores intersecting identities, and for disability offices it can serve as a framework in changing the dynamic of higher education and how it approaches marginalized groups. In this presentation, we will explore what barriers can be removed when applying DisCrit and how leading with this theory creates a more open and accessible space for students, faculty, staff, and the community. Though uncomfortable, it addresses how higher education institutions have largely been framed to serve the haves and create barriers for the have nots. Applying DisCrit can fundamentally change a system and allow for an institution to own its history and openly challenge and commit itself to systematic change.


3:00 – 3:30 Break


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

V6.1: Mind Your Ps & Qs: The Importance of (P)rocesses and (Q)uestions in Creating Effective Office Practice

Jennifer Papproth, University of Nebraska Omaha
Becky Jacobs-Cano, University of Nebraska Omaha

This presentation addresses the importance of Ps (processes) and Qs (questions) in a informative and interactive format.  Through professional experience, the presenters have learned the value of creating processes within a disability services office.  Important questions, such as: "Why do we do what we do?", and "How do we what we do?"  lead to the development of processes and effective training. 


V6.2: Evaluating Requests for Remote Instruction: Are They Reasonable?

Sheryl Killen, Columbus State Community College
Daniel Nuss, The University of the Pacific

Many disability professionals are facing increased requests for remote instruction as a reasonable accommodation request triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic. Some requests relate to medical conditions and compromised immune systems, anxiety, the need to limit potential exposure for family care-giving responsibilities, etc. Does your institution have a policy in place to address these types of requests or does it fall on the disability-services office to evaluate as any other accommodation request? This presentation will explore policies, legal requirements and instructional factors that contribute to evaluating whether requests are reasonable.


V6.3: The Equity Office as a Partner - How to Increase Student Access and Effectuate Disability Compliance

Emily Babb, University of Denver
Olabisi Okubadejo, Georgetown University

Two former U.S. Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights (OCR) attorneys who have transitioned to higher education institutions, will bring together their experience investigating OCR complaints and now leading civil rights and equity offices at private and public institutions. With a focus on how civil rights compliance offices partner with disability services offices, human resources, and student affairs to provide timely and effective response, the presenters will discuss their experience drafting University policies to address disability discrimination, how they have proactively partnered with disability services offices to train faculty and students, and how to effectively collaborate and support students who may have experienced discrimination. 

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Thursday, August 4

Noon – 1:30 Block V7 (3 concurrent sessions)


V7.1: A Guiding Framework for Decision Making: A Three-Step Process for Simple to Complex Situations

Emily Helft, Landmark College
Paul Harwell, Dartmouth College

This presentation covers a three-step framework to decision making that is applicable to all DS professionals, from seasoned to new-to-the-field. It is designed to aid in a consistent process around request outcomes, whether the answer is a “yes” or a “no,” and whether the scenarios are simple or complex. It will include an overview of the foundations behind the approach, important angles to consider prior to use, description of the framework, and a brief overview of a values/goals matrix to further guide decision outcomes. While DS work is likely never to be fully black-and-white, this approach is designed to support DS professionals that prefer consistent and structured approaches to their work around accommodation decisions. Time will be reserved at the end for an attendee-provided scenario.


V7.2: New Challenges and Solutions for Math Success Focusing on Student with SLD, ADHD. TBI, PTS, LI, ID, and Autism: Learning

Paul Nolting, State College of Florida, Hillsborough Community College
Aimee Stubbs, Broward College

Disability Resource Offices are being challenged more than ever to improve math success. This is especially true for student groups with Autism, Intellectual Disabilities and Language Impairments. These new groups are now being added to the existing students with SLD, ADHD, TBI and PTS who can have difficulty learning math. Research indicates that math and poor strategic learning skills are the two major reasons students are unsuccessful, but that appropriate educational and testing accommodations can improve success. Offices can help students improve their success with a combination of math learning strategies, educational accommodations, test memory aids and strategies for course substitutions. Participants will learn new learning apps, math study skills, note-taking, anxiety reductions, test-taking skills, processing deficits effects on math learning, new testing accommodations, and substitution strategies. Participants will also learn how to conduct student workshops, strategies to help students in co-requisite courses and developing individual math success plans. Group discussions and demonstrations will occur during the presentation and a Q&A period will conclude the presentation.


V7.3: Doing the Work: Building Explicit Anti-Racism into the Practices of Your Disability Services Office

Jen Dugger Spalding, Portland State University
Stacie Taniguchi, Portland State University

The nationwide reckoning with white supremacy and racism in this country, brought about by the pandemic and murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmad Arbery has altered the course of many colleges and universities. However, we in Disability Services must reassess whether and how we have evolved to meet this ever-present need, integrating anti-racist practices into our work and centering the experiences of Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) students with disabilities. The presenters will focus on the process that the Disability Resource Center at our university has gone through to begin and the specific work that has been done thus far. As James Baldwin was famously quoted, “Not everything that is faced can be changed but nothing can be changed until it is faced” and it is (beyond) the time that we in Disability Services face our ethical responsibilities to the wellbeing and retention of our students of color.


1:30 – 2:00 Break


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

V8.1: An Introduction to Digital Access for Disability Resource Professionals

Melanie Thornton, University of Arkansas
Jessica Stone, University of North Texas

Disability Resource Professionals advocate for access across the campus—encouraging faculty and others on campus to create accessible environments. One of the best ways to influence change is to model good practices. This session will introduce key concepts you need to advocate for accessible digital environments and teach a few basic skills you can use to begin to model accessibility with your own materials.


V8.2: Applying a Curricular Lens to Disability Services

Bonnie Huckaby, Purdue UniversityPaul Harwell, Dartmouth CollegeJackie Heymann, University of MichiganHunter Duncan, Clemson University

In disability services, it is easy to focus on the everyday issues that are brought to our attention, but how do we start to track patterns in these interactions?  Are there things we could be doing to make our practice more effective?  How can we be more proactive in addressing the issues that our students face? This presentation will apply the curricular mindset--frequently used in housing operations--to our work in disability services. The curricular approach helps us to better align our daily practice with student learning, assessment, and department goals and helps us to make long-term plans for our departments. This framework can be used to hone departmental communication, tell the story of the services and resources we provide to students, and illustrate the need for funding and resources. It can also help our campus partners to better understand the work that we do. In this presentation we will: Discuss the benefits of applying a curricular approach, review campus mission statements, pull actionable goals from mission statements, create objectives for our practice, develop learning outcomes, create strategies that address learning outcomes, and brainstorm assessment ideas.

V8.3: Shifting from Compliance to a Culture of Inclusion: A Four-Step AP Approach to Disability Inclusion

Charnessa Warren, University of Chicago

Disability is the largest minoritized group in the United States, so why is it the least talked about group in diversity and inclusion efforts in higher education? How might we make disability inclusion more salient at our institutions? This session will introduce a three-step approach to systemically include disability and accessibility in higher education.  The presenters will share a customizable approach that disability service providers may utilize in partnership with other campus partners to begin the shift from disability compliance to a more inclusive culture. Attendees will be able to share best practices throughout the session.


3:00 – 3:30 Break


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

V9.1: Developing a Common, Shareable Accessibility Rubric for Educational Technology

Kelly Hermann, University of Phoenix
Andrea Deau, IMS Global Learning Consortium

This session introduces a collaboratively developed Accessibility Rubric to guide institutional leaders with entry-level vetting of your digital teaching and learning tools. To provide a toolkit for keeping up with the influx of new learning products, stakeholders across K-12, higher education, and edtech suppliers came together—leveraging expertise within the community that is often hidden or might not exist at their organizations. Get a better understanding of the expectations you should have when procuring tools for your digital ecosystem. We will share the outcomes of a pilot happening in Q1 2022 and discuss the potential for the rubric to influence the edtech market.


V9.2: Leave of Absence Practices & Policies: Promoting Parity & Positive Mental Health

Courtney Joly-Lowdermilk, Boston University

As the global pandemic surged in 2020, so did the number of college students considering and taking leaves of absence from higher education. In the last year there was a marked decline in the rate of first-year persistence, a significant indicator of completion. Boston University’s Center for Psychiatric Rehabilitation, in partnership with the Ruderman Family Foundation, responded with the release of two first-of-their-kind Leave of Absence Guides. A practical resource for students and campus leadership, these innovative guides provide helpful frameworks and invite critical conversations about supporting meaningful, health-promoting leaves of absence, successful returns to school, and equitable, student-centered practices and policies for all that uphold the values of justice, access, and parity across all types of leaves. Presenters, co-authors of the guides, will describe the guides’ content, background, and the principles underlying them and review key recommendations for campus administrators, staff, & faculty. Attendees will receive copies of both guides as well as workshop opportunities for campus or organizational implementation and utilization.


V9.3: From Words to Action: A Mentoring Program Geared Toward Black, Neurodivergent College Students

Adam Lalor, Landmark College
Kelly O'Ryan, Landmark College
Marc Thurman, Landmark College

In recent years, greater attention has been paid to understanding the experiences of disabled students with a variety of intersecting identities. Although discussion is important, action must be taken to enhance opportunities for success and belonging for these diverse students. Unfortunately, research indicates that students of color and neurodivergent students (i.e., those with learning disabilities, ADHD, and/or autism) both have lower persistence rates placing Black neurodivergent students at even greater risk for dropping out of college. This session will explore some of the unique barriers facing this underexplored cohort of students and introduce an innovative program geared at improving transition and sense of belonging for Black neurodivergent students. Join us for a discussion of this novel program and learn how you can develop a similar program on your campus.

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