Special Interest Groups (SIGs)

Veterans with Disabilities in Higher Education SIG
Jorja Waybrant & Dan Standage, Co-Chairs

The following is a year-end update and broad strokes of the direction we were heading for in 2016 and beyond: 

At the onset of 2016, the SIG set out to operationalize short and long-term goals.  This process provided a 1/3/5-year plan and pipeline moving forward with the net effect to have tangible goals that create our yearly agenda.  We also set out to develop, over time, a peer-based mentoring model to help bridge the gap between student veterans and disability resources on campus, incorporating professional development and an education series as a training element, and building a contact management system to facilitate outreach and communication.  A systemic constant of the SIG is to encourage mentorship.  Mentorship is a powerful tool that will cultivate the next generation of AHEAD leaders, and is rooted in the traditions of education and military service.  

With that being said, in 2016, the SIG accomplished the short-term goals targeted for the year; however at the same time, we realize continued work is needed to promote more active participation by SIG members. The two short-term goals accomplished were:

  1. Increased opportunities for engagement and participation by SIG members, and
  2. The development of a collaboration tool to allow greater direct input and active participation by SIG members.

In 2016, the Samepage platform and the AHEAD – Veterans with Disabilities in Higher Education SIG listserv were created.  These two platforms opened opportunities for quicker updates, greater direct input, and participation by SIG members (84 to date). Several sub-committees were developed to target long term SIG goals and to provide professional development opportunities through leadership roles for interested members. The Samepage platform allows members to access an outline of the SIG history, accomplishments, goals, and other information. The collaboration tool also provides a base for online connections opening communication. All SIG members were invited to join; however, while several team members signed on, active participation on the projects and goals remains low.  We are currently seeking ideas and recommendations on how we can help folks be more actively involved.

The SIG also had a number of long term goals, some have gotten off to a running start and a few remain for further development.  Here’s the update:

  • Disability in Education series.  This remains as an ongoing project.  We have identified a couple of groups that will host the series in a webinar format.  Once we are ready to roll, we will need involvement from members to generate the content for the modules.
  • Disability point of contact database as a tool to assist student veterans.  We currently have 390 entries in the database that match campuses with an SVA Chapter (currently 1456 campuses).  In addition, we have points of contact for all California, Washington, and Ohio schools that were provided by members in AHEAD regional groups.  This project is ongoing.  Anyone can contribute by using this form: https://www.questionpro.com/a/TakeSurvey?id=4800341 
  • Extending collaborative outreach to other organizations that focus on student veterans in the educational space. In spring of 2016, we reached out to the respective veteran interest groups associated with NACADA and NASPA and began meeting via conference calls in the Fall. After two successful meetings, the team collaborated under the name of Disability in Education for Student Veterans.  This group has enormous potential and is represented by members associated with:
    • AHEAD
    • SVA - Student Veterans of America
    • NACADA – National Academic Advising Association
    • NASPA – Student Affairs Professionals in Higher Ed
    • MFRI - Military Family Research Institute
    • CCME - Council of College & Military Educators

The group members have identified communications as an item that needed focus.  We determined that a social media group would provide a familiar platform.  The intent of the Facebook group is to create a communication channel for and about student veterans.  While the platform is in the nascent stages and closed to the public, we anticipate that it will soon be launched and more information will be available after the first of the new year.

Our continued work includes:

  • Assisting PSE campuses in developing a peer mentoring program for DS offices.
  • Expand the realm of what we do as a SIG to include all PSE institutions where veterans also access the GI Bill.  During 2016, we acquired a list of all PSE institutions where veterans enroll and forwarded it to AHEAD so they could include all PSE institutions on their invite list. The recent closing of the Ashford and ITT systems displaced thousands of student veterans.  We know that some portion had service-connected disabilities.  Our goal with this project is to better understand how disability services are implemented in the for-profit and career/technical education (CTE) environments and to provide these DS professionals with assistance.  
  • Broaden our scope to include employment as a goal of education as it relates to veterans with disabilities.  We are in very early conversations with organizations such as Lime Connect and USBLN to help connect employment as a piece to academic goals.  We anticipate discussions in 2017 with additional organizations that are supporting student veterans with disabilities.    

What we’re doing well on and other activities:

  • The SIG provides consistent communication with monthly updates to SIG members and The HUB.  We believe it is important that the AHEAD-Veterans SIG has a consistency in its communication.  While we don’t always get a monthly update out to our SIG members on the same day every month, we are providing regular monthly updates.  In addition, we are attempting to stay consistent in our submissions to The HUB.  

What we’ll be focused on in 2017:

  • Continuing to build active participation rates with SIG members
  • Continued outreach to PSE institutes, other than college/universities, to learn more about their DS resources to veterans
  • Continued planning and building of peer mentoring programs for DS offices and student veterans.

Please let us know if you have any questions.


ADA Coordinators SIG

What is an ADA Coordinator?

The ADA SIG has been hard at work to help answer that very question.  We have redesigned our webpage https://www.ahead.org/sigs/ada-coordinators.  In addition, the website has sample job descriptions, resources, program review information, and our meeting minutes.  I encourage everyone who has asked this question to look at our website.  Our group is also hard at work developing an assessment tool that we hope to distribute in early 2017 to help us gather more information from you about how you answer that question.  If you are an ADA Coordinator and would like to join our SIG, please contact me at elucio2@jhu.edu .  We would love to have new members.