For the past two 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. In response to the COVID pandemic, we are transiting the Academy to a virtual experience and adding 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 year is included.
As always, the Academy is designed to orient, refresh, and engage. This year, we will also explore how the work has changed in response to the pandemic. We’ll begin with a foundation in disability studies, 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 studies: critical analysis of disability in society 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 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 as necessary, participating in this event as though it were an in-person training will provide the most benefit. Please review the Academy schedule to block 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 significant opportunities 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 monthly presentations, 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. Unlike many other forms of distant education, the AHEAD Start Academy will prioritize the opportunity to engage with national experts, seasoned service professionals, and colleagues to develop essential skills and a professional network, the most valuable professional development tool available. 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.