The Next Chapter: Master Classes

Offered each May, The Next Chapter is a response to members’ requests for professional development content that pushes experienced professionals’ development: that assists them in making nuanced decisions, staying current with legal and technology changes, engaging campus stakeholders, and gaining the respect necessary to redefine access on their campuses. The three-day intensive master classes provide institutional leaders and seasoned disability professionals with “the next step” in professional development with national-expert instructors offering a deep dive into an “advanced” curriculum. Each participant selects ONE class for an in-depth focus on a specific topic.

All participants receive a certificate of advanced study. Continuing education units (CEUs) from the Commission on Rehabilitation Counselor Certification (CRCC) are available.  Look for information on the 2019 Next Chapter in February 2019.


The 2018 program held in Atlanta included the following master classes:

  • MC#1- Advanced Practices for Disability Services in Health Sciences Programs
  • MC#2- Disability Law: Lessons in Application for the Advanced Disability Professional
  • MC#3- Growing an IT Accessibility Program on your Campus
  • MC#4- Students with Autism, An Expanding Frontier
  • MC#5- Principles of Reasonableness: Returning to Basics to Address Nuanced Issues


MC#1- Advanced Practices for Disability Services in Health Sciences Programs

Lisa Meeks, Ph.D., University of Michigan
Elisa Laird-Metke, J.D., Samuel Merritt University

The high stakes environment of the health sciences, coupled with multi-layered, nuanced and complex educational experiences (e.g., didactics, anatomy labs, clinical rotations, standardized patient exams, board exams, etc.), poses unique challenges for disability service professionals, especially those unfamiliar with the culture, hierarchy, and nuanced elements of clinical education. This master class, taught by two highly skilled and experienced disability service professionals with extensive experience at schools with Health Science programs (including Med School, Nursing, Occupational Therapy, Pharmacy, Physical Therapy, Physician Assistant, Podiatry, and other programs) will help participants refine their skills for health science disability service delivery. This case-based training is highly interactive and dynamic, drawing on real cases and the most pressing concerns of participants. Participants receive a certificate of completion for the 20-hour training, which includes 4 hours of pre-work and 16 hours of in-person teaching. 

This training is fast-paced and assumes competence in the basics of the ADA and disability services, as well as a general understanding of health science program structure. Participants should have a solid background in higher education disability work and meet one of the following criteria:

  1. Attended Part One of this training with AHEAD (February 2018);
  2. Experience providing disability services in a health science program;
  3. At least 3 years of experience in non-health science disability services; or
  4. Approval from the instructors to register.

The training will include:

  • Multiple case studies, including student needs from admissions and early disclosure through the didactic years, clinical rotations, residency, post graduate training, or certification with state boards, including application of relevant case law, OCR determinations and best practice.
  • Creating and updating Technical Standards, including a general review and self-study, group workshopping exercise, and an editing session with facilitators.
  • An overview of the relevant legal standards, including how to properly read and apply OCR and court cases to your everyday work.
  • Best practices and communication techniques for creating and cultivating relationships with the Deans and/or Program Directors within the health science programs.
  • An introduction to advanced technologies available to aid students in meeting the Technical Standards of programs or performing clinical duties, including a “show and tell” for some items.
  • Small group exercises grounded in problem-based learning designed to help participants understand what they know, what they need to know, and what resources are available to aid in decision-making beyond the confines of this training.

Together, these experiences will prepare mid-level and experienced providers to work through complex accommodation requests, proactively prepare for access, and identify recurrent challenges in health science education for students with disabilities.

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MC#2: Disability Law: Lessons in Nuance and Application for the Advanced Disability Professional

Jamie Axelrod, M.S., Northern Arizona University
Paul D. Grossman, J.D., OCR, Chief Regional Civil Rights Attorney, San Francisco, retired; University of California, Hastings College of Law
Mary Lee Vance

The higher education environment and the legal concepts intended to ensure its accessibility are multi-faceted and ever-changing. It can sometimes feel as though the more we know, the more challenging it can be to find the salient issues in novel situations and apply the relevant legal concepts. Nonetheless, the law is an effective tool for both securing students’ civil rights and setting limits. Even with mastery of baseline information, we face the greater challenge of figuring out how to implement it. For example, how on earth can you assure that every video posted by every faculty member, adjunct instructor, and visiting professor is captioned? 

This advanced training will highlight long-standing and widely-accepted judicial precedents and principle, as well as the latest decisions on cutting-edge issues, and provide an interactive exploration of their practical implications. We will succinctly cover the law, from basics to cutting-edge principles, and facilitate best practice discussions through multiple case scenarios. Within a team of experienced colleagues, you will have the opportunity to become facile with the law by applying it to realistic and complex hypothetical questions, sharing your ideas and solutions, and exploring approaches to effective implementation. Together with your colleagues and the presenters, you will explore these difficult issues and assess practical policies, processes, and procedures that provide effective access in accordance with legal obligations. We will also explore approaches to effectively communicate with campus partners/opponents and administrators in ways that can effectuate more inclusive and accessible programs and services. Many of our hypotheticals will be based on OCR/DOJ findings, letters, and court decisions that reflect common and recurring situations; participant scenarios are also welcome.

This certificate-bearing Master Class will include 16-hours of face-to-face discussion and instruction. Participants will be sent four seminal rulings related to disability law in postsecondary education to review prior to our time together; on-site work will focus on application in the following areas:

  • Selling your mission: disability rights as civil rights
  • The definition of disability under Section 504, the ADA as amended by the ADAAA, and, most importantly, the new DOJ Title II and Title III regulations, including the new emphasis on “condition, manner, and duration” analysis
  • Accommodations, academic adjustments, and auxiliary aids that are, or are not, required in the postsecondary setting
  • Ways to consider and implement the primary defenses to the duty to accommodate including “equally effective alternatives”, “fundamental alteration,” and “undue burden”
  • The digital world, including alternate media production and access to websites, academic management tools, on-line learning, and adaptive technology
  • Service and emotional support animals
  • Program access
  • Discipline and student conduct
  • Self-injurious students
  • Internships and field work

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MC#3: Growing an IT Accessibility Program on your Campus

Nathan Evans, Michigan State University
Rob Eveleigh, Amherst, Hampshire, Mount Holyoke, and Smith Colleges
Dawn Hunziker, University of Arizona 

Higher education institutions are under increased scrutiny as to their institutional approach for ensuring accessibility in Web and information technology. While the Department of Justice and the Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights have issued guidance regarding institutional obligations for ensuring access for students with disabilities, colleges and universities still struggle with how to address such obligations within the context of policy, procedure, and implementation. A benefit of recent compliance reviews, resolution agreements, and consent decrees is that they serve as a blueprint for developing and refining policy and practice. Building an accessible electronic and information technology (EIT) environment requires engagement by a wide variety of institutional stakeholders, including those within IT departments, disability services, faculty, libraries, procurement, and other campus units.

This dynamic, interactive workshop is presented by members of the Access Technology Higher Education Network (ATHEN) and includes foundational legal information offered by guest presenter Paul Grossman, an analysis of federal agreements, and presentation and discussion of best practice approaches. In addition to on-site presenters, the session will include live, remote national experts sharing perspectives and best practices on specific topics. Together, this information will prepare IT staff, disability service providers, managers, and other campus stakeholders to work through institutional challenges to create a strategic, and comprehensive approach for creating an accessible EIT environment. Session leaders will provide models for decision-making and communication, guidance on policy and procedure development, and strategies for growing campus-wide involvement.

The face-to-face workshop includes:

  • Review of relevant disability laws, federal resolution agreements and consent decrees and their application to institutional access to EIT
  • Policies and procedures that support institutional obligations, including the building of an EIT Accessibility Program to best address individual campus goals and strategies
  • Review of current EIT accessibility standards and the scope of such standards to EIT products and services
  • Self-evaluation protocols to help determine and prioritize individual campus goals and strategies.
  • Strategies for building campus accessibility teams to create and implement an EIT Accessibility Roadmap.
  • Communication Plans to promote and support a campus-wide EIT Accessibility Program
  • Goals and strategies for ensuring accessible documents, communications and media
  • Implementation of campus-wide solutions for web accessibility assessment and training
  • Procurement and Development of Accessible EIT Products & Services
    • Procurement policy and procedures for including accessibility as part of information technology acquisition and development
    • Accessibility testing methodologies for review of electronic content and information technology systems
    • Strategies for engaging with vendors to address EIT product accessibility
    • Equally Effective Alternative Access Plans (EEAAPs)

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MC#4: Students with Autism and Higher Education, An Expanding Frontier

Jane Thierfeld Brown, Ed.D., College Autism Spectrum & Yale Child Study
Lorraine Wolf, Ph.D., Boston University

Approximately 50,000 students with autism graduate from high school each year, and increasing numbers of those students, about 35%, go on to higher education.  Even the most seasoned disability resource professional may be unsure of how to implement effective support systems for students on the spectrum, leaving them feeling unsupported and misunderstood. Campuses must re-examine our understandings, language, and skills to negotiate the intersection of institutional policies, practices, and expectations with the characteristics of an increasingly diverse student body. 

This master class will focus on understanding the population of students on the autism spectrum. Strategies for moving students to a greater state of independence, working with parents, and partnering with faculty to design teaching and advising experiences that are effective will be shared and discussed. Because this is a master class, the nationally-recognized expert presenters will assume basic knowledge of autism and understanding of the principles of access and accommodation. Focus will be on institutional system change, collaboration, and strategies for enhancing students’ ability to navigate the college environment.

This 16-hour, certificate-bearing, advanced training will provide significant opportunity for interaction and include discussion of:

  • The brain and executive function
  • Self-advocacy, self-determination, and self-regulation
  • Title IX issues, including both training and compliance
  • Conduct and “non-optional” behavior
  • Cultivating partnerships with other campus offices, including career planning, residence life, student activities, etc.
  • Disability resource office policies, practices, and programs, including the roles and functions that fit with a service office and those that do not
  • Best practice guidance for fostering a welcoming, inclusive campus

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MC#5: Principles of Reasonableness: Returning to basics to address challenging, nuanced situations

L. Scott Lissner, The Ohio State University
Adam Meyer, University of Central Florida 

Those of us who have been in the field of higher education and disability for some time know the principles that underlie our work, the relevant legislation, and best practices. Yet, synthesizing that information to make a decision on the reasonableness of a request in the face of competing priorities from students, faculty, administrators, and other stakeholders is challenging. By design, the field requires individual analysis of each student’s characteristics, each program or campus context, and each unique request. With so many moving parts, legal and policy guidelines can only take us so far. Fluent communication skills, expertise in identifying relevant information, and a critical voice are necessary. 

Using both the participants and facilitators’ expertise and experiences, this master class will be organized as six half-day explorations of critical topics in disability services:

  • Principles of Reasonableness: Balancing competing equities while juggling fundamental program goals. To set the stage, we’ll revisit basic principles and discuss how they inform decision-making in even the most complex situations.
  • Documentation: Anchoring policies to institutional mission and philosophy. Moving the conversation from “Is she qualified?” to “How do I collect and use the most critical individual information to address access in unique contexts?”
  • After foundational information is explored, we’ll consider access and decision-making in some of the most nuanced areas:
  • The Intersection of Student Conduct and Accommodation: Examining behavior and process
  • Attendance Accommodations: Managing expectations
  • Animals In and Out of the Residence Halls: Is there room for parrots and porcupines?
  • Internships, Practica and Placements: Bringing accommodations to work

Participants will set the stage as they work with the facilitators to identify and explore the principles of reasonableness that are the foundations of the accommodation process. How are these principles embodied in policy and reflected in practice across accommodation contexts? Brief introductory discussion on each accommodation theme will review the research and legal landscape as participants identify the challenges and successes in their settings. Interactive scenarios will highlight principles in action and illustrate best practices, allowing participants to workshop policy and process elements to bring back to their campuses. The overall experience will balance information sharing, small group discussion, and hands-on policy and process development.

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The Next Chapter: Master Classes for the Seasoned Professional logo


group picture of people attending the 2018 Next Chapter: Master Classes conference


"I think that these Master Classes are invaluable. I am going to try to come back each year."

an image of the reception area with people eating a tables during the 2018 Next Chapter: Master Classes conference


"It was great to have a space for experienced professionals to get the next level of information."

an image of an IT work group session 2018 Next Chapter: Master Classes conference