Diversity & Inclusion
AHEAD embraces diversity and inclusion as organizational commitments and professional imperatives. That commitment is reflected in our mission statement, core values, strategic plan, and initiatives. This page serves as an information and resource hub. Please read on to learn more about AHEAD’s commitment to diversity and inclusion, available resources, and ways that you can get involved.
AHEAD values a multiplicity of perspectives and worldviews, and believes that increased diversity enhances our practice. AHEAD defines diversity holistically and welcomes voices from all backgrounds, histories, and lived experiences. AHEAD is committed to equity, inclusion, and access, and works intentionally to represent diversity across the organization and supports professional development and practice that is congruent with these values.
AHEAD strives to create inclusive and accessible experiences in all its governance, events, and activities. Some ways this is achieved include:
- Designing inclusive events and, as requested, ensuring effective individual accommodations, such as Sign Language interpreters, transcribers, accessible formats of print materials, and alternative options to meet individual dietary needs
- Designing fully accessible web-based materials, including websites, apps, emails, and registration portals
- Inviting and working to include diverse perspectives on all leadership groups and committees
- Providing gender-inclusive restrooms and offering the opportunity for participants to select and include preferred pronouns on name badges at the annual conference in July
- Supporting both formal meetings and informal social gatherings for regional, professional, and identity-based groups.
- Presenting the Excellence in Diversity & Inclusion Award annually to members who have promoted diversity and inclusion within our profession and/or their workplace.
- Disability Programming Resources Compilation (XLS) – This Excel file catalogs ideas and resources for campus programming about disability/accessibility. Each tab represents a different category (TED Talks, documentaries, general ideas, etc.) and individual resources include titles, descriptions, and reference links.
- AHEAD’s Commitment to Diversity (July 2016 Statement to Membership) – Word doc or PDF download
- Safe Space Word Cloud
- Webinar: “African American Students' Mental and Emotional Health Needs: Considerations for All Disability Services Professionals”
- Black, Disabled, and Proud: College Students with Disabilities (featuring posters, tip sheets, and resources)
- AHEAD Reaffirms Commitment to Acting in Solidarity with Trans* Communities (March 2017 Statement to Membership) Word doc or PDF download
- Promoting Diversity & Inclusion on Campus: Tips from DS Colleagues (Word Doc)
Want to help create a more diverse and inclusive organization and profession? Read about opportunities below and contact the corresponding Chair for more information.
I. Standing Committee on Diversity & Inclusion
In accordance with AHEAD’s definition of diversity, the Standing Committee on Diversity & Inclusion (SCDI) exists to:
1. develop awareness among members and the association in general about diversity in relation to all aspects of the association, its business, members and practices;
2. assess means through which the association is represented and inclusive of diversity; to foster inclusion of all members within the association equally and with equity;
3. ensure that association events and activities are inclusive and responsive to needs of diverse constituencies; to evaluate member resources for sensitivity; and to
4. provide members with resources to promote inclusive environments for all students in college and university communities but especially students with disabilities.
- Melanie Thornton (Chair), University of Arkansas
- Liz Thomson (Vice Chair), University of Illinois at Chicago
II. Special Interest Groups (SIGS)
The Racial and Ethnic Diversity and Disability (REDD) SIG aims to increase the awareness of AHEAD members on issues of diversity pertaining to students from historically underrepresented groups. Contacts:
- Chair: Karen Andrews, University of Alaska, Anchorage
- Co-Chair: Michael Hughes, Bowie State University
- Secretary: Doris Pierce, University of Central Arkansas
- Publication Coordinator: Jane Castillon, University of California, Santa Barbara
The LGBTQA SIG will serve two primary groups of AHEAD members, 1) those who are LGBTQA-identified, and 2) those who would like more information on the LGBTQ community so as to better serve those students on our respective campuses.
The Diversity Initiative was an AHEAD member workgroup that grew out of the work of the Race, Ethnicity, and Disability Diversity (REDD) Special Interest Group in 2006. The work of these members moved AHEAD forward in its work in the areas of diversity, representation, and inclusion. In 2010, the Diversity Initiative’s work was further prioritized through the establishment of an ongoing Standing Committee on Diversity & Inclusion. We thank the original members of the Diversity Initiative for their leadership and commitment to changing the culture within AHEAD. To learn more about the Diversity Initiative’s history, read AHEAD’s Diversity Initiative History (Word Doc).