PC#1- New to the Profession: Building a Strong Foundation
Margaret Camp, M.Ed., Clemson University
Ann Knettler-Smith, M.A., Delaware State University
Cheryl Muller, M.A., University of Arizona
Randall Ward, M.A., Purdue University
Recognizing individuals enter the field of Higher Education and Disability Services from various backgrounds, AHEAD offers this two-day pre-conference workshop to set the foundation for new disability resource professionals and offer a comprehensive overview of issues that impact our work. The disability service office serves not only as a resource for students but as a campus leader in creating inclusive and sustainable learning environments through outreach and collaboration. Disability resource professionals set the tone for how campus communities frame and respond to disability on their campuses.
Through interactive discussion and practical application, we will explore “what we think we know” about disability together. We will discuss our work in the context of access and equity and explore how to move beyond compliance toward more sustainable and equitable practices. We will talk about infusing principles of universal design into our work, shifting our focus to the inclusive design of environments and campus systems to be more equitable and require less individual modification. A best practice is to think beyond what we MUST do with respect to compliance to what we CAN do broadly and proactively to ensure a welcoming experience for all.
Areas of emphasis:
- Prevalent models that frame disability and examine how we can design practices to challenge medical or tragedy-thinking and reinforce the social model of disability in our work
- Disability services/resources work in higher education and how it differs from the K-12 system
- Responding to requests for reasonable accommodation
- Documentation of disability: when is it needed and how to use it
- Disability and civil rights history
- Legal foundations of the work: The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and who is covered
- Universal design and the power of design to promote inclusion and equity
- Campus outreach strategies: how to cultivate relationships with faculty and other key allies
- Office practices that reflect social model thinking: communication, office processes and record-keeping
PC#2- SESSION FILLED - Disability Law for DSS Directors, Staff, and ADA Officers: Compliance Requirements, Analytical Tools, and Solutions
Paul Grossman, J.D., Hastings College of Law
Jamie Axelrod, M.S., Northern Arizona University
Mary Lee Vance, Ph.D., Consultant
This two-day Preconference Institute will give DS and ADA professionals a comprehensive introduction to postsecondary disability law, including compliance requirements of the ADA and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. begin by placing the responsibilities of a DSS officer into its civil rights context, reinforcing the importance of a career in DSS services with a review of the history of discrimination against individuals with disabilities and the emergence of the disability rights movement which culminated in the adoption of disability laws. Participants will learn what legal traditions and concepts all antidiscrimination laws share and what is unique to disability law. As the law shifts emphasis from who is “an individual with a disability” to “qualification,” how are the responsibilities of DSS impacted?
While highlighting long-standing and widely-accepted judicial precedents and principles, the very latest, cutting-edge decisions will be discussed. We will provide an exploration of the practical implications of the ADAAA’s definition of disability, the implementing EEOC and recent DOJ Test Accommodation Guidance, and brand new DOJ regulations, as well as their relationship to the AHEAD Guidance on Documenting Accommodations. Once disability is established, we will consider what must be done to make programs and facilities accessible to persons with disabilities. What accommodations are, or are not, required in the college and university setting? This will include an exploration of academic adjustments and auxiliary aides, the digital world (websites, academic management tools, on-line learning and adaptive technology), service and emotional support animals, mobility devices, architectural and programmatic access, and more. Topics unique to higher education, such as admissions, discipline and conduct, self-injurious students, academic accommodations, and internships will be covered.
Included in the cost of tuition for this class are approximately 14-16 hours of instruction by nationally-recognized presenters, the contents of a Power Point presentation containing well-over 400 slides, a set of class hypothetical question exercises, and one copy of the AHEAD/Lexis-Nexis publication, Colker and Grossman, the Law of Disability Discrimination for Higher Education Professionals. This Institute will provide each attendee with a comprehensive framework for addressing legal responsibilities and answering the questions they encounter on a daily basis.
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 disability services work because of our commitment to social justice and inclusion. However, we must enter this work with a reflective posture and appreciate that we too can be part of the problem: inadvertently contributing to dynamics that maintain the status quo. This two-day preconference will explore disability in the larger context of social justice dynamics. Participants will reflect on their personal power and privilege and connect it 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. We 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, 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. Ally development is a powerful, but potentially contentious, way to declare support and commit to change together: disabled and non-disabled people alike. As disability services professionals, are we de-facto disability allies? Together we will explore questions of authenticity in ally development and representation in disability services. We will end with participants developing and discussing specific action items.
PC#4- Diagnostic Assessments: Understanding & Operationalizing Diagnostic Assessment Outcomes
Rhonda Rapp, Ph.D., St. Mary’s University
Students with learning disabilities, attention disorders, and/or psychological disorders tend to comprise the largest combined population of students with disabilities requesting and receiving accommodations on college and university campuses. To ensure access for these students, most colleges and universities require the results (documentation) of fairly recent, in-depth diagnostic assessments to best shape appropriate accommodations for the student.
However, without training in diagnostic assessment it is difficult and sometimes impossible to accurately understand what the results of the assessment truly mean, whether or not the results are important and/or significant and how to operationalize the diagnostic information. For instance, some individual test batteries yield better results than others (Wechsler, Woodcock-Johnson, Wide Range Achievement, Connors’ Continuous Performance test etc.). But, in this instance, what does “better” mean?
Furthermore, which individual subtests and/or section(s) of the diagnostic testing report provide the most useful information for making decisions about course substitutions or course waivers? And what individual subtests and/or sections, if any, provide insight into what would be an appropriate substitution? Which subtests and/or section(s) are better for knowing how to answer when faculty, tutors, supplemental instructors, etc., want to know “what else can I do to help?” Which subtests and/or section(s) of the diagnostic testing report are better for giving the student information to use in selecting a viable field-of-study and/or a major/minor? Finally, which subtests and/or section(s) help with the “reduce course load or not” decision?
Understanding the true purpose of a “diagnostic assessment” and what the answers to the above questions mean improves the functional limitation(s) / appropriate accommodation(s) equation. Understanding also make it possible for DS providers to understand how diagnostic assessment information and “professional judgment” become part of the total, over-arching diagnostic process.
The goal of this preconference session is to provide in-depth information about “diagnostic assessment” as it applies to students with learning disabilities, attention disorders, and psychological disorders. In addition, participants will work through “diagnostic” case studies and have a chance to investigate their own personal professional “diagnostic” judgment.
Audience: Novice to Intermediate
PC#5- Accessibility 101
Gaier Dietrich, B.A., High Tech Center Training Unit
Heidi Scher, M.S., University of Arkansas
This two-day pre-conference is designed for anyone involved with ensuring their institution's technology is accessible but feeling a bit overwhelmed by or uncertain about that responsibility. The session will cover technology-related accessibility issues in easy-to-understand ways. No question is too simple or too small! We will also bring attendees together to explore strategies and promising practices for addressing these issues campus-wide. Topics to be covered will include:
- Applicable laws and standards: Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 both prohibit discrimination against persons with disabilities. Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act, as amended in 1998, requires that federal agencies ensure accessibility of information technology, and its standards have been adopted by some states. How do these laws apply to higher education institutions, and what are the requirements related to information technology? We will explore these questions, and learn about the standards that are often used to measure accessibility of websites and other information technology, the W3C Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0.
- Assistive Technology: Many of the problems encountered by students with disabilities in higher education concern instructional materials and information technologies that are not accessible to their assistive technologies (AT). In order to understand this, it is important to have a basic knowledge of the types of AT commonly used by individuals with disabilities. This session will provide discussion, demonstration, and hands-on activities for learning more about AT.
- Alternate Format Conversion: Many individuals with disabilities, including those with blindness, visual impairments, and learning disabilities such as dyslexia, are unable to read traditional print and require that it be converted into alternate formats such as Braille, HTML, Microsoft Word, tagged PDF, and ePUB3. This session will explore a variety of tools, methods, and strategies for effectively and efficiently finding or converting instructional materials into alternate formats.
- Web Accessibility: WCAG 2.0 has 62 specific success criteria for measuring whether websites are accessible. This session will bring these success criteria down to earth and explore a variety of web accessibility problems and solutions in a way that is fun, interactive, and easy for non-developers to grasp.
- Information Technology Accessibility: Information technology (IT) accessibility is about more than websites. Students face challenges with all sorts of IT, including digital documents, videos, classroom technologies, and software. This session will explore a variety of strategies and promising practices for addressing accessibility of IT. How can we test products and services for accessibility? How can accessibility be addressed within the procurement process?
PC#6- Increasing Access and Opportunities for Deaf Students in Higher Education
Tia Ivanko, M.S., National Deaf Center for Postsecondary Outcomes
Dave Litman, M.S.W., National Deaf Center for Postsecondary Outcomes
Lauren Kinast, M.A., National Deaf Center for Postsecondary Outcomes
Stephanie Zito, M.A., National Deaf Center for Postsecondary Outcomes
This preconference is an intensive training opportunity to increase individual and institutional capacity to support positive postsecondary outcomes for deaf individuals. Two days will be devoted to understanding root causes and key strategies for postsecondary attainment of deaf individuals; understanding a legal framework for equitable access; and engaging in discussion with colleagues. By the end of this training participants will have the means to identify and incorporate key components of equitable accommodations and access services, evaluate access requests and complex situations, and make decisions grounded in evidence-based practices.
The National Deaf Center’s (NDC) mission is to improve postsecondary outcomes of deaf individuals. This work necessarily begins with defining “the what” - what are the gaps in postsecondary education attainment and employment success for deaf individuals? Analysis of recent census data shows that deaf students are graduating from high school at record levels and pursuing postsecondary opportunities at rates comparable to their hearing peers; yet, completion rates for deaf students at the bachelor level are below that of the general population. This is of significant concern because evidence suggests a direct correlation between educational attainment and employment.
An important next step towards improving postsecondary outcomes for deaf individuals is collecting and analyzing evidence on “the why” - why are deaf individuals experiencing gaps in education and employment? What systemic factors contribute to these disparate outcomes? Through a systemic and evidence based analysis, NDC has identified four root causes: 1) limited access to language and communication, 2) reduced social opportunities, 3) negative attitudes and biases, and 4) lack of qualified professionals. Drawing from this understanding, preconference participants will focus on “the how” - how can we work together to improve education and employment outcomes for deaf individuals? While there are no easy solutions, there are key areas that the literature reveals are effective in closing postsecondary gaps: 1) designing accessible environments, 2) promoting high expectations for success, 3) leveraging community resources, 4) collecting and using data for decision-making, and 5) developing collaborative and integrated systems.
Employing an interactive format and dialogue model, participants will have an opportunity to unpack root causes and related challenges to identify strategic ways to mitigate barriers in their context. Within this structure, participants will also discuss the legal framework of institutional responsibilities for serving deaf students. Focus will be on guidance from key resources including legal cases, rulings, Letter of Findings, and Department of Justice briefs. Participants will engage in guided discussions, obtain essential information, share strategies for implementation, and gather resources on trending topics. They will leave with information that can foster a sound framework for implementation and use of accommodations in higher education settings.
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