October 2014 ALERT

Download the October 2014 ALERT in PDF or Text document.

Letter from the Editor

Welcome to fall!  I hope that everyone had a wonderful summer, got a chance to take some well-deserved time off, and had the opportunity to attend the Conference in Sacramento.  It was wonderful to see everyone.  My apologies for not getting an August issue of the ALERT out to you all.  August got away from me this year with the start of school.  So, this month you have an issue packed full of wonderful information.  This is YOUR publication, a link to what is happening in your organization and all of the wonderful work everyone is doing.  I hope that the ALERT continues to be your go to place for committee updates, educational resources, and information about events.  As always, I will continue to do my best to bring you the best publication I can.  But, keep in mind that we depend on you.  If any of you have something you want to contribute, please send it my way.  I am sure you all come across interesting research and practices that the membership would benefit from.  Feel free to contact me at lucio@cua.edu.

Have a great semester!

Emily (Singer) Lucio
ALERT Editor

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Message from AHEAD President: Bea Awoniyi

Welcome to the beginning of another academic year!  Before I turn the page to talk about a new academic year, let me share my heartfelt appreciation to everyone who contributed in one way or another to a successful Conference in July.  I hope many of us found our time in Sacramento to be a great time to catch up with old friends and an opportunity to make new ones.  The feedback so far has been positive and I hope we continue to be generous in our sharing and collaboration. I also hope the theme of this year’s conference, “Access Always, in All Ways,” will continue to encourage our work in the coming years.

While we are just coming out of the 2014 conference, we are already planning for AHEAD 2015 in St. Paul, Minnesota.  Minnesota AHEAD is ready to receive us but we each have to contribute. The Call for Proposals (CFP) is out (http://ahead.org/meet/2015-cfp) and I look forward to learning more about the wonderful things happening in different areas as you consider presenting.  In the meantime, I have just a couple of updates for the membership as we begin another year.  AHEAD continues to lend its voice on the Board of the Council on the Advancement of Standards (CAS).  Many of you who review the CAS Standards or use it frequently will notice an improvement in the standards for our area of practice; you will notice especially that the standards better reflect our professional perspectives. Thanks to Past President Jean Ashmore, who represents AHEAD on the CAS Board and lends a strong voice.  As a member of AHEAD, you can directly link to the standards in the “Members Only” area of the AHEAD website.

In addition, Dr. Kristie Orr, AHEAD Board Member represents AHEAD on Food Allergy Research and Education (FARE).  AHEAD and FARE have formed a partnership to come up with best practice that will help include students with food allergies on college campuses and again, AHEAD’s voice is strong and respected.  You can read more about this partnership on the press release by FARE on their website at https://www.foodallergy.org/press-room/2014/081414.

As we continue our work, it is important to hear from the membership.  Please share what you find helpful and how the AHEAD Board of Directors might better support our work and other engagements that might help shape our organization and access in general.  The Board meets three times a year (fall, spring, and summer).  The first meeting of this year is in October. I invite members to share ideas and insights as Board meets to look at the future directions for our organization. 

Thank you all for your confidence in the work of the organization, for contributing to the advancement of our work, and for generously sharing your knowledge.  Best wishes for a new academic year.

Bea Awoniyi, President

A Note of Passing

Nancy Hart:  A Legacy

On September 15, 2014, we lost a treasured friend, colleague, mentor, and leader in disability services. Nancy Hart was a longtime advocate for creating welcoming and inclusive environments in higher education and served in many local and national professional roles:

  • Associate Dean of Student Affairs, Disability Resources & Child and Family Education at Lane Community College in Eugene, Oregon,
  • AHEAD Board of Directors member,
  • ORAHEAD Board Member,
  • Conference Chair for AHEAD’s 2001 International Conference in Portland, Oregon,
  • Frequent presenter and trainer for AHEAD professional development sessions,
  • Principal Investigator for a federal grant focused on progressive service delivery, Project ShIFT, and
  • Leader in using disability studies scholarship to inform service delivery.

Nancy touched many of us in AHEAD with advice, support, and just because of who she was. Below are some reflections from just a few of those touched by her life. 

    “If Nancy was in the office, her door was almost always open. She always seemed to welcome an interruption, even if we just wanted to 'bounce an idea' off her, or check-in. I’m sure our interruptions contributed to her lengthy middle-of-the-night emails;  she worked long hours, sometimes late into the night, leaving Advisors in the department detailed emails at 3 o’clock in the morning or later, before finally succumbing to sleep on the couch in the Women’s Center in the wee hours of the morning.

    Nancy changed so many lives through her work at Lane, the people around her and many people around the world through her advocacy and collaboration with Mobility International USA. She shared her passion, wisdom, knowledge, and compassion for equity, diversity and disability rights with every person she met throughout her incredible life.

    Nancy will be sorely missed by those she worked with, and whose lives she touched – even briefly. Her compassion, and empathy, her smile and her laugh will be part of our department’s collective memory forever.”

    Cath Reschke and Disability Resources Staff, Lane Community College

    “My first interaction with Nancy stands out vividly in my mind. She was warm, empathetic, caring, and genuine. Over the time that I had the chance to get to know her, it was her genuineness that stood out to me. Her zest for life and care for others radiated from her, and filled the room.” Melanie V. Tucker, Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs, Northern Illinois University

    What I so appreciated about Nancy was the combination of  professionalism and expertise about  the work we do along with her ability to really connect with people and the spirit within her that reflected a joy in her life and optimism for the future.  Patty Wallway, Assistant Director O’Neill Center for Academic Development, St. Catherine University

    Project ShIFT sustains me….I have never been part of a group that affected me personally, professionally, and collegially. The ripple effects of Nancy Hart’s vision are broadly, geographically global and at the same time so deeply personal.” Margaret Camp, Director of Disability Services, University of South Carolina Upstate

We will always remember her smile, open arms, and “hugs”; in fact we know from her daughters that she was voted to have the “best smile” in high school. 

Despite her professional accomplishments, her children and grandchildren were the focus of Nancy’s life. She raised 2 daughters, Shannon and Julia, who remained at the center of her life and heart.  With great pride, energy and love, she embraced her role as grandmother for Cody and Abigail. We all recall the laughter and joy with which Nancy told us stories about her grandkids: cycling, cuddling, reading books, and enjoying the changes and growth. While we note the professional legacy that Nancy gave us, her loving family is her personal legacy.

Contributed by Carol Funckes, Sue Kroeger, Gladys Loewen, and Melanie Thornton in loving memory

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2014 AHEAD Conference Wrap-Up

An outstanding collaboration in an enjoyable host city made the AHEAD conference/pepnet 2 Postsecondary Training Institute in Sacramento a memorable experience.  The positive energy that came out of the preconference offerings proved an accurate precursor of what was to come.  Dr. Thomas Holcombe and Erika Shadburne’s opening plenary was inviting and dictated the atmosphere that permeated the conference—open dialogue and visionary thought would rule the day. Presentations during the concurrent sessions had attendees buzzing with new knowledge and points of conversation to share with others at the conference and back home.  The luncheon was a true highlight as we witnessed the “passing of the hat” to new AHEAD President Bea Awoniyi; heartfelt appreciation by award recipients highlighted by tears of joy from Terra Beethe; and a glimpse of a realized example of the dream we all have for universal accessibility presented by Dmitri Belser, Executive Director at the Center for Accessible Technology.  The conference ended with a great reminder by Terrill Thompson of the importance technology plays in our field and that much of the technological side of our profession is possible even for those who are not tech savvy.  If that was not enough to make the conference a rousing success, there were opportunities to lunch and learn, visit with exhibitors, attend poster presentations, join special interest groups, and attend social functions.  Perhaps the greatest aspect about this and previous conferences is that when they are over, the anticipation for next year immediately begins.  (using a great movie trailer voice)  coming next summer in the land of 10,000 lakes, AHEAD 2015…see you there!

Lance Alexis

2014 Conference Chair

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Professional Development Opportunities

The AHEAD Technology Access Series for 2014-2015

AHEAD’s Technology Standing Committee has designed a series to help us look at technology used by students to mitigate barriers, while sharing best practices in areas where technology and disability in higher education intersect. We’ve identified three broad themes to help you choose, but you can attend any – and all – of our sessions!

  • November 4, 2014-Free and Low Cost Apps for Student Use
  • December 2, 2014- How to use Data and Institutional Tools in our Practice
  • January 6, 2015- Equipment Loaner Program Management
  • February 3, 2015- Making Math More Accessible: The WeBWorK Math Homework Management System
  • March 3, 2015- Shifting from a Paper-based to an Electronic Records System
  • April 7, 2015-Welcome to Campus: Accessible Online Maps

Full details are available at:  http://www.ahead.org/learn/virtual-learning/at_webinars_14_15

AHEAD to You! The 2014 – 2015 Webinar Series

AHEAD brings you another year of our always-popular 90-minute webinar series – AHEAD to You!

  • October 30, 2014- An ABCD Approach to DS Office Administration
  • November 20, 2014- Guiding Faculty toward Access: An Exploration of “Conceptual Change”
  • January 22, 2015-Getting to ADA Compliance: How a Plan Can Help, Part I (Self-Evaluations)
  • February 5, 2015- Getting to ADA Compliance: How a Plan Can Help, Part II (Transition Plans and Barrier Removal Plans)
  • February 26, 2015- Adaptive Recreations’ Impact on Student Experience and Campus Access
  • March 5, 2015- A Culture Shift, Moving Beyond Compliance with the ADA
  • March 19, 2015- Don’t Fan the Flames. Turn Angry Faculty Emails into Positive Outcomes
  • April 30, 2015- Disability Studies 101: What Professionals Want to Know
  • May 7, 2015- Gender, Sexuality, and Disability: An Introduction

Full details are available at:  http://ahead.org/learn/virtual-learning/webinars

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Legal Update

Paul Grossman’s Summer Reading List

Analysis:  Emerging Issues to Follow and Consider

Thanks to the ADAAA, courts are more likely than in the past to get to the merits of discrimination claims, as Congress intended.  Within the postsecondary setting, now is the time to examine and evaluate how the courts analyze and assign proof burdens with regard to “qualification,” “direct threat,” and when an accommodation is “necessary.” 

For the entire reading list with insights from Paul Grossman, go to:  http://www.ahead.org/uploads/Summer%20Reading%20List%20Final.docx

Series: AHEAD of the ADA Access Curve

By Irene Bowen, ADA One, LLC

This is the twelfth in a series of articles, “AHEAD of the ADA Access Curve,” to assist disability service providers, ADA Coordinators, and others in promoting compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, section 504, and the Fair Housing Act. This series approaches physical access and related issues as key to the civil rights of individuals with disabilities. It is intended to provide some helpful tools in a time of shifting requirements and shrinking resources.

Self-evaluations and Transition Plans (mini-series), Part II: Go in a Different Direction Instead?

The February 2014 ALERT article suggested ways to determine whether you need to take another look – or a first look – at formal planning and promised possible approaches.

But – even though this mini-series is about self-evaluations and transition plans, let’s stop and think about it: might it make sense to your institution to approach compliance in a different way?  Yes, the Department of Justice (DOJ) regulation requires that each college or university develop these plans (actually, you should have done so two decades ago), but what really counts is compliance.  For example, you may already know those areas that raise particular problems or that may be steered by outdated policies; perhaps you could get to substantive compliance (or at least in most arenas) more quickly without an extensive formal plan.  Consider one of the following three approaches, or a combination of them, along with others to be set out in the next article.  [Disclaimer: In some judicial circuits, the regulatory requirements for self-evaluations and transition plans are enforceable through a private right of action, so check with your attorney before taking any of these approaches.]

  1. Evaluate first what you haven’t evaluated before: your institution’s new or changed policies or programs

The first article asked if, since you did your last plan, you’ve —

  • offered new programs, classes, or services;
  • delivered them in new ways;
  • changed the types of housing or range of housing choices offered;
  • built or altered facilities, or moved classes or services; or
  • started providing more services through contractors.

If so, or if your institution has seen other significant changes since your last plan was done, consider looking at these areas first, especially if you have not developed new ADA policies as changes occurred.

In fact, the regulation states that if an entity has conducted a self-evaluation under section 504, then the self-evaluation and transition plan requirements apply only to those policies and practices not evaluated; this certainly suggests that new policies and facilities that weren’t evaluated before must be assessed now, and periodically.

  1.  Assess policy areas subject to recent regulations and guidance

Especially if you haven’t carried out an evaluation since DOJ issued its 2010 revisions to the ADA regulations, start here! 

Using the 2010 regulation and preamble/guidance, check your policies about –

  • Segways and other mobility devices,
  • Allocating and selling tickets for accessible seating at events, and
  • Video remote interpreting, answering/making telecommunication relay service calls, and automated-attendant phone systems (voice mail, telephone trees).

Animal related-policies can pose a confusing challenge.  Before you’re faced with a request that could lead to problems for your institution, it’s important to align your policies about animals in housing and elsewhere with various agencies’ regulations and directives as well as local or state laws that may apply.  Check DOJ’s 2010 regulation about service animals and miniature horses, the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s guidance about housing-related policies as to emotional support animals and other assistance animals, and recent settlement agreements.

You’ve most likely responded already to DOJ’s 2010 regulations as to the requests you receive for accommodations in testing and your response to them (also addressed in DOJ’s 2014 proposed regulations as to the ADA Amendments Act and the definition of “disability”), but be sure to keep current on other developments, including settlement agreements such as the one DOJ recently entered with the Law School Admissions Council and see if your approaches measure up to the agencies’ expectations.

More and more questions arise on a regular basis about effective communication, too.  Most significantly, web sites are required to be accessible to people with disabilities, even in the absence of federal regulations specifying how to ensure compliance.  DOJ is expected to issue proposed regulations within the next year, but it expects colleges and universities to assess and modify their sites in accordance with best practices.  Similarly, both DOJ and the Department of Education have made clear that electronic and information technology (e-readers, instructional materials, etc.) must ensure “substantially equivalent ease of use” for people with disabilities compared to that provided for others.  Those agencies’ settlement agreements, FAQs, and Dear Colleague Letters offer useful guidance and more details.  And as to all types of communication, your policies should be measured against developing case law and other indications of Federal agency expectations.  For example, see the recent decisions and DOJ position papers in Argenyi v. Creighton University, DOJ’s detailed discussion of communication in the preamble to the 2010 regulation, and its 2014 guidance on effective communication.

Other areas where guidance has emerged from Federal agencies in the last few years include –

  • Applying the broad definition of “disability” confirmed by the 2008 ADA Amendments Act and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s regulations, as well as DOJ4s 2010 proposed regulations;
  • Accommodating those with food allergies, according to DOJ’s guidance;
  • Providing athletic opportunities consistent with the principles in the Department of Education’s guidance to elementary and secondary schools.
  1. Facilities: Examine those that are NOT safe harbored and put procedures in place to ensure compliance with the 2010 Standards

The February article reviewed the “safe harbor” (new as of the 2010 DOJ regulations) for existing facilities that met earlier (e.g., 1991) standards.  Most facilities that were in compliance with prior standards will not need to be altered just for the sake of program accessibility.  But there are numerous types of buildings and facilities for which the 2010 Standards, for the first time, imposed new construction and alterations requirements.  These include access to exercise equipment, golf course, swimming pools, play areas (as in campus child care centers), certain aspects of housing, and other facilities. The new requirements, read together with program access provisions, mean that some facilities may need to be “brought up to standards” (the new ones) in order to achieve program access.  It makes sense to make it a priority to assess which of your facilities of this type need to be improved; in fact, the deadline for making those improvements passed in March 2012. 

Before starting a full-scale evaluation of your policies and procedures, you should also be sure that your design and construction contracts reflect the revised 2010 Standards and that people planning for and reviewing new construction and alterations are aware of the new requirements.  For example, DOJ has revamped its approach to housing in higher education, with implications that have often been overlooked, and now requires direct access from seating areas to stages and performing areas (for example, stages or raised platforms used for graduation ceremonies) for people with disabilities, where direct access is provided for others.  The new requirements mentioned above for recreation areas must also be followed. 

Public universities in particular can be unaware of a significant alterations provision that now applies to them: the requirement that in many planned alterations, colleges and universities must spend up to an additional 20% beyond the original planned cost, on accessibility improvements (known as “path of travel” changes) that may not be in the original plans.  It is important to alert responsible staff to this requirement, and to budget for and plan for these expenses.

In the next installment, we’ll look at three additional different directions that you may want to consider as you work towards ADA compliance:  (1) Focus on typical vulnerabilities, or those you are aware of; (2) Develop policies now, check for compliance later; and (3) Consider a phased approach. Until then, good luck with the fall term!

This series of articles is provided as a member service by Irene Bowen, J.D., with ADA One, LLC. Until August 2008, Irene was Deputy Chief of DOJ’s Disability Rights Section. She is also former Deputy General Counsel of the Access Board. ADA One provides consulting, training, and speaking services related to the Americans with Disabilities Act and similar laws. You can contact Irene at IreneBowen@ADA-One.com  or by phone at 301 879 4542.  The web site is http://ADA-One.com.

The content in this article is for informational purposes only. It is not and shall not be deemed to be legal advice or a legal opinion. You cannot rely on the content as applicable to a particular circumstance or fact pattern. If you need legal advice about a particular issue and particular facts, you should seek professional legal advice.

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AHEAD Standing Committee Updates

Standing Committee on Diversity

Amanda Kraus, Chair

It was great to see so many colleagues in Sacramento!  The Diversity Standing Committee had a productive year and used our meeting time in Sacramento to catch up and set new priorities.

Over the last few months the Diversity Standing Committee has been discussing an updated definition of diversity that represents AHEAD’s commitment to inclusion and access.  In Sacramento, we met with representatives from the Racial, Ethnic, Disability and Diversity (REDD) and the LGBTQIA SIGs to get input on this definition.  We will be putting something together for the Board to review soon.

We are already looking ahead to the 2015 Conference and there is great energy around diversity as we plan for St. Paul!  We are pleased to announce a diversity/social justice strand for the 2015 Conference.  Detailed information will be available in the call for proposals, but the intention of this strand is to provide good opportunity to discuss diversity and social justice issues as they relate to disability and disability services work.  Members of the Diversity Standing Committee will both be submitting and reviewing proposals to ensure we have a variety of subjects and experiences represented in the Conference program.  We encourage you to submit proposals that explore issues of diversity and social justice.

The Diversity Standing Committee is in the processing of refining our newly proposed definition of diversity to submit to the Board.  We look forward to sharing widely once the definition has been confirmed. 

With any questions about the Diversity Standing Committee, please contact Amanda Kraus at akraus@email.arizona.edu.

Standing Committee on Professional Development

Sharon Downs, Chair

As we reported in the June ALERT, the Standing Committee for Professional Development coordinated the following strands for the Sacramento Conference:

  • AHEAD Start: Foundational Information for the New Professional
  • OUT OF THE BOX: Provocative Conversations to Challenge Seasoned Professionals and Push Our Thinking Beyond the Status Quo
  • Management Strand: Running a DS Office – It is YOUR Business.

 The AHEAD Start and Out of the Box strands were designed to encourage in-depth discussions and consideration of the issues that shape postsecondary disability services in today’s changing climate. Through lecture, discussion, resource sharing, and relationship development, this coordinated program of professional development connected attendees with the ways in which social justice and civil rights legislation inform the practical realities of providing disability service and consultation in higher education. Sessions included discussions on microaggressions, power and privilege, the evolving role of third party documentation, LGBT Identity Development Theory as a model for disability offices, and universal design for student affairs professionals. 

Through the management strand, sessions explored various aspects of how the work that we do in our disability offices often has all of the same demands and expectations of a business. We also have to satisfy the demands and expectations of our core customers/stakeholders (students, faculty, and the campus community) while working effectively within our office operations and externally with our campus colleagues.  Sessions included such topics as leading outside disability offices, strategic managing and planning, communicating with faculty, and career advancement strategies for disability professionals.

A big thank you goes to Adam Meyer for heading up this effort.  We look forward to reviewing the evaluations from these sessions, and to begin work on planning for next year's Conference!


Our standing committee has coordinated with experts from across the country to film short training videos that will soon be posted to the AHEAD site.  We were able to film six content experts at the conference.  The topics include attendance accommodations, structuring the DS budget to be responsive to emerging accommodation needs, how to speak to faculty in their own language, and the emerging understanding of the role of third-party documentation.  We look forward to getting these videos ready for you, for either your own development, or to use when working with faculty or other DS professionals in your state!

Standing Committee on Public Policy

Emily Lucio, Chair

Eric Wagenfeld, Co-Chair

The Public Policy Committee continues to work on supporting efforts to get the CRPD passed.  Recently, we worked with AHEAD to draft a letter to Sen. Burr in North Carolina and also Sen. Portman in Ohio.  We also sent out an email to the AHEAD Listserve to members in Atlanta about a rally in the area to support the CRPD.  Sen. Harkin, before the Senate went to recess asked for Unanimous Consent Vote.  However, it did not pass.  Sen. Harkin, who is a strong supporter of disability rights and the CRPD will be returning for his last day in the Senate after the November elections.  There is a strong push to try and get this passed before he retires.

In addition, we recently collaborated with the Technology Committee to respond to The Teach Act.  Recently there has been much debate about the proposed TEACH Act and the opposition to it being circulated.  As the landscape in higher education has evolved, and most educational opportunities now require interactions with electronic and information technology (EIT), institutions have been left without an effective structure for taking access for all into account.  Currently, institutions have only lawsuits and enforcement actions to guide them; the point of the TEACH Act is to pave the way for consistent national guidance in this arena.  The Association on Higher Education And Disability (AHEAD) supports the proposed legislation and seeks to clarify a few points.  For more information go to:  http://ahead.org/teach_act_clarification_letter

Standing Committee on Member Development

Mika Watanabe, Co-Chair

Ken Marquard, Co-Chair

AHEAD International Listserv

The AHEAD International Listserv was recently created as a response to requests from international members wishing to have a communication method to share information. Any AHEAD members can subscribe to this listserv by going to “Subscribe to the AHEAD International Listserv” on the AHEAD International Portal: http://ahead.org/international-portal

The Standing Committee on Member Development hopes that more AHEAD members utilize this listserv to connect and share information.

Developing International Presentation Proposals for AHEAD 2015

This committee will coordinate submitting presentation proposals on international disability issues for the 2015 AHEAD Conference. The standing committee will facilitate choosing topics and identifying presenters. This communication will be done through the International Listserv. Thus, please subscribe to the listserv if you are interested in being a part of our proposal initiatives.

Networking with Other Organizations for Partnership and Member Development

This standing committee is strategizing to network with other international and domestic organizations that have already been identified. We are looking for more international members who can volunteer to serve on this committee. Please contact the co-chair Mika Watanabe at mikawt@mso.umt.edu if you are interested in serving on this committee.

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Affiliate's Corner

Terra Beethe, Affiliate Liaison BOD

Kim Ochsenbein, Lead Affiliate Representative

Affiliate Update

Sacramento hosted an exceptional conference this year; outstanding conference sessions, amazing farm to fork cuisine, and remarkable networking opportunities with colleagues from across the world!

Affiliate Breakfast: Representatives from 30 affiliates met on July 17th during the 37th Annual AHEAD conference.  The breakfast program included networking incorporation activity, sharing opportunities, and guest speakers. AHEAD President, L. Scott Lissner  provided a few remarks along with Jamie Axelrod regarding the celebration of the 25th Anniversary of the ADA at AHEAD 2015.  The two and half hour program was informative, entertaining and interactive.  Below are a few photo highlights from the morning!

Affiliate Booth: 24 affiliate representatives helped with the booth organized by Lead Affiliate Representative, Kim Ochsenbein.  Affiliate Representatives passed out buoy key chains and cow themed balls to visitors to promote the next AHEAD location of St. Paul, Minnesota in 2015. Val Sturm, Brigham Young University-Idaho, was our St. Paul colored “AHEADgehog” donated by Beth Harrison, Ohio AHEAD. 

Maximizing your Regional Affiliate Concurrent Presentation:

Terra Beethe, BOD Affiliate Liaison, and Kim Ochsenbein, Lead Affiliate Representative, presented a 90 minute concurrent session on Thursday morning regarding the ways which affiliates can maximize their efforts. After sharing tips and tricks regarding membership, 501c3, leadership, and bylaws, participants were asked to create a goal setting collage for the upcoming year.  Beethe and Ochsenbein also shared the results of the 2014 Affiliate Survey.


Submitted respectfully,

Terra Beethe, BOD Affiliate Liaison

Kim Ochsenbein, Lead Affiliate Representative

Updates from our regional affiliates:

Ark-AHEAD in conjunction with ArCPA, ACTA, AHEHSP and Ark-AAN will host their FIRST EVER joint higher education state organizations conference entitled Partners for Student Success:  In Concert with Each Other on October 1-3, 2014 in Hot Springs, AR. Keynote speakers include Jenny Bloom, Ed.D., co-founder of the Journal of Appreciative Education and Director of the Higher Education & Student Affairs Program at the University of South Carolina and Donald R. Bobbitt, President of the University of Arkansas System.  The deadline for Early Bird Registration at $150.00 is September 2nd.  After September 2nd, the cost is $170.00   For call for proposals, registration, volunteer, hotel and awards information, click on the following link: 

2014 Partners for Student Success Conference  

Kan-AHEAD will hold its annual fall conference on Friday, October 17, 2014 at Kansas State University in

Manhattan, Kansas. Topics will including communicating with faculty and on-campus housing challenges. This event is free to Kansas professionals working with students with disabilities in post-secondary education, though an RSVP is required for lunch. Contact Jaclyn Anderson at jaclyna@ku.edu for more information.

New England AHEAD will be hosting a fall webinar October 16th with Alexa Schriempf from Penn State University. Alexa will be discussing the changes that Penn State has made to their accessible text process as a result of their NFB settlement. To register, please email Kirsten Behling, kbehling@suffolk.edu

New England AHEAD will also be offering a one-day boot camp focusing on helping faculty ensure that the content they provide to their students is accessible. The boot camp will occur on November 13th at Salem State University. To register, please email Kirsten Behling, kbehling@suffolk.edu

MD-AHEAD  Speaker:  Salome Heyward

November 14th, 2014.  CCBC Catonsville campus (directions and parking information will be presented closer to the date). Topics that will be covered will include but not limited to attendance policy, extensions on assignments, service animals, documentation, dealing with suicidal student, and an overview of current legal cases. 

To RSVP please send an email to Jeanne Mauldin (jmauldin@towson.edu).  The cost to attend this event for MD AHEAD and C-AHEAD members is $25.  In addition, the cost for non- members will be $45.  Payment for this event can be mailed to the MD AHEAD Treasurer: MD AHEAD, ATTN: Jeanne Mauldin, Towson University, Disability Support Services, 8000 York Rd., Towson, MD 21252

SUCCEEDS, the S.C. Affiliate of AHEAD will offer: #imaginedisability with Stephan J. Smith, Executive Director of AHEAD.                

Smith will present of all things . . . #imaginedisability to help affiliate members in the management and marketing of disability services offices.

On Friday, October 10, starting at 9 a.m. at Midlands Technical College – Harbison Campus in the Continuing Education Building, 7300 College Street, Irmo, SC. The cost for the daylong conference is $35 for non-members and $25 for members.

TN-AHEAD will mark both its 20th anniversary and 25 years of the ADA at its annual Spring Conference March 11 – 13, 2015. This year the conference will come to Austin Peay State University in beautiful Clarksville, TN. Check the TNAHEAD website at http://www.tnahead.org/ later this fall for more information. We invite all our AHEAD “cousins” to join us!

WAPED will be hosting its Fall 2014 conference entitled on April --, 20-- in Bellingham, WA. Jen Dugger from Portland State University will be the key note speaker as WAPED explores how Disability Identity Development impacts and intersects with our work in the field. Other conference topics include; best practices on working with administration, and forming campus accessibility teams.  For more information please contact Bree at breec@uw.edu or view more information at http://waped.org/

WINAHEAD’s (Western Iowa and Nebraska) regional Fall conference is scheduled for Nov. 6 & 7 in Lincoln, NE. Dr. Paul Grossman will be the keynote speaker.  Members of other AHEAD affiliates may register and attend at member rates. For more information please contact Melinda Classen at mclassen@mccneb.edu.

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Special Interest Groups ( SIG)

Michael Johnson, Chair

SIG Liaison Report

Michael Johnson

During the AHEAD 2014 Conference in Sacramento I had the opportunity to meet with some of the chairs and co-chairs of a few of the SIG's.  The SIGs who had representation at this meeting were:  Private College, LGBTQA, ASD, REDD, Mental Health, Career, PEPNET 2, Disability Studies, Student Athletes and In-Sight (formerly named the Blind and Visually impaired).   At the meeting we discussed some of the resources that are available to the SIGs such as writing article for submission to the ALERT, requesting funds from AHEAD to assist in planning events such as workshops, and discussions for SIG members along with joining forces with a standing committee that is in alignment with a SIG particular interest to name a few.

Overall, the meeting with the SIGs in Sacramento was very productive; some of the SIGs express an interest and need for wanting to be more involved other than just their regular meeting at the conference.  I will continue to work with the SIGs in helping them to move to the next level of their development and purpose with the AHEAD organization.

Private Colleges SIG


The Private Colleges SIG met during the AHEAD conference in Sacramento, CA on Wednesday 7/16/2014

  • Announcements:

Survey about AHEAD professional fees for Private & Community Colleges; Professional fees for smaller offices can be financially burdensome; Scott Lissner reported to Gavin that the survey information was not sufficient to make any changes. Suggestion could be the availability to add more office members to Silver level.

Private college SIG has been asked to be involved in research opportunities with Sally Scott. Focus group held on 7/17/2014

  • Discussion:

Some members are not on ICU list or having technical difficulty with list

Is ADA compliance officer & accommodation coordinator 1 in the same?

Do campuses need to post signs in buildings publicizing ADA compliance office information?

How do campuses handle assistive technology needs?

How are campuses with 1 staff member proctoring tests?

Can AHEAD provide written guidance for Disability Services Offices on the specific responsibilities of the office?

Minutes reported by:  Lori Colchagoff

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Student Perspective

A Student's Personal Account with a Service Animal

My name is Stephanie Frank and I am a senior at Eastern Michigan University majoring in nursing and minoring in health education. I am 20-years-old and I have been living with diabetes since I was four-years-old. Diabetes is a 25/8 kind of thing. There is never a break from it and so living with it for 16 years has been quite exhausting. Most people that see me wouldn’t ever even know that I had diabetes as the only dead giveaway, my insulin pump, is usually hidden under my shirt but the minute to minute struggle is real.

During the spring of 2013 I had a checkup with my endocrinologist that didn’t go so well. He ended up recommending that I get a Diabetic Alert Dog (D.A.D.).  These dogs are able to smell when a diabetic’s blood glucose is too high or too low. I immediately knew that this was finally going to make living with diabetes successful for me. I fundraised and before I knew it, it was time for the pick-up.

Levi was born April 9th, 2013 and trained by Drey’s Alert Dogs in Jasper, TX until December 28th when I met him for the first time and was given his leash. Levi received almost 9 months of training as his scent detection training began with his first 24 hours of life. Alerting is all Levi has ever known and let me tell you, he is good at it. Levi has had days where he had 12 accurate alerts and is so good at detecting the change that he is usually 15-30 minutes quicker than my meter.

Currently Levi is still a puppy with many puppy traits but fully capable of doing his job. Most people I see assume that I am training Levi as when one sees me, I do not look in any way, shape, or form, disabled, but I am. This can be a tricky question to answer when people ask about his training because we are ALWAYS training. No dog is trained the same because most trained dogs are trained with their potential handlers in mind. For example: not all D.A.D.s know how to retrieve a glucose meter, but I was really poor at testing frequently so after I got Levi at home I trained him how to retrieve mine.

Most people wonder what he does and what his training is so here is a section about Levi’s training. These next few traits were taught to Levi by the organization I purchased him from. Levi was trained to lift his paw whenever he smells a low or a high blood sugar. He knows basic obedience commands such as sit, down, stay, release and heel. I have taught him how to retrieve my glucose meter, press a button to alert me of an out-of-range level, break (relieve himself), back (slow down), side (position by my side), front (stand in front of me), and hug (jump up and give a hug).

Many people try to request proof of training or service dog certification.  The problem with these requests are: (1) that is federally illegal and (2) there is no standard for that. There is no national government-regulated service dog registry which has caused many problems.

Personally, I wish there was. I wish the organizations training these dogs would be regulated and certified so that the dogs they are producing are good enough to be service dogs. I also would be in support of this to cut down on the amount of fake service dogs there are. I have seen videos of Channing Tatum with a fake service dog on www.youtube as well as had an individual ask me where to get a vest so that he could bring his dog in a store. When people bring untrained, fake service dogs around real working dogs it endangers the working dogs. Levi cost me $16,000 but for him to be hurt or endangered or fearful because a fake dog attacked him would cost me much more.

Unfortunately it is almost impossible to tell if a service dog is fake or not and there are only two questions that can be asked: “Is that a service animal?” If the answer is yes one may ask “What service does it provide?” My usual answer is: “Yes he is a service dog. He is a medical alert dog.” I do not need to explain that he is for my diabetes or how he does his job but am more than happy too if I have to the time and the person is kind.

It is important that people not become offended by service dog’s handlers and vice versa. Often we have a place to go and have already been asked 15 times that day about our dog. We have listened to countless stories about other people’s dogs, and been stopped and asked if the dog may be petted, or they try to get the dog’s attention. This is distracting to the dog and takes his focus off of his job which can be detrimental to the handler. This can lead to delivering short replies and saying no to others wishes. On the other hand, handlers need to realize that most people are unfamiliar about service dogs and want to inquire.

It is impossible to accurately judge in a few seconds whether or not a person needs a service dog and if the dog is trained enough because honestly, every dog is trained differently. I have seen my dog look like he isn’t doing anything laying on the ground where he can still easily smell and alert me.  I know of dogs who act up and bark so their handler with PTSD has an excuse to remove him/herself and the dog before a PTSD episode comes on. To the average eye you would think that dog is out of control and must be removed when in fact that dog was trained to do that.  Acting up IS the job.

I hope you learned something from this and I encourage you to do your own research about service dog laws, service dog etiquette, training and types of service dogs. If you are interested in learning more about Levi you can go to www.facebook.com/DiabeticAlertDogLevi to see our stories.

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Book Review: Icy Sparks

Miranda Abu-Farha

University of South Carolina

Rubio, G.H. (1998). Icy Sparks. New York, New York: Penguin Books.

Icy Sparks is a fictional novel written by Gwyn Hyman Rubio and is told from the perspective of ten-year-old Icy Sparks.  The story is set in a small town in Eastern Kentucky and chronicles Icy’s experiences living with Tourette’s syndrome.

Icy begins her story describing her life living with her grandparents, Matanni and Patanni. Icy’s mother died shortly after giving birth to her and her father died in a car accident on the way to the hospital when she was born. Icy also mentions her best friend, Ms. Emily, a 300-pound woman who owns the local hardware store and teaches Icy French and Spanish. Icy appears to be very happy living with her grandparents, despite the loss of her mother and father. However, things start to change quickly for Icy when she starts to have these urges to pop out her eyes and jerk and contort her body in all directions. The urges are provoked when Icy gets upset or nervous about something, so when she felt them coming on, she would run to the cellar, or behind the house to relieve the urges. However, once summer was over and classes began again, Icy found it harder to hide her urges due to the dislike she had for her new teacher Mrs. Stilton. After weeks of being singled out and taunted by Mrs. Stilton, Icy could no longer control her urges, and one day Icy popped out her eyes, threw back her head and screamed “CROAK” (pg. 83). Icy’s legs started jerking, her desk was shaking and in front of the entire class, she began cursing uncontrollably. After her outburst, she was taken home by Principal Wooten where she spent three days in bed with a fever.

Icy finally recovered from her fever and was allowed to return to school, but this time she was no longer in Mrs. Stilton’s class, but instead, she continued her studies in a storage closet, next to the nurse’s office, that was set up like a small classroom just for her. Principal Wooten showed great concern for Icy and brought her a wide variety of books to read. But Icy began to notice that she felt the room was cluttered and she could feel the urges to jerk coming back again. Icy decided to organize the room by color, and she thought that this would help; an organized room would help organize her mind. However, one day Principal Wooten came into the room, and when he picked up a roll of tissue paper and tried to move it, Icy couldn’t control herself and she started cursing, jerking, and popping her eyes out. Icy’s last day of school would end with her running down the halls cursing, screaming and jumping into Little Turtle Pond screaming “drown me” (pg. 98).

After her last outburst, Icy’s grandparents and Mr. Wooten decide to send her to Bluegrass State Hospital located in Lexington, Kentucky, several hours away from her home. Once Icy arrived and her grandparents and Mr. Wooten left, she realized that this was no ordinary hospital. Among the children that Icy met at the hospital were Rose, a young girl who couldn’t talk, but laid on a blanket curled up in a ball unable to move on her own; Gordie, a large boy who went around head-butting people; and Reid, a boy who couldn’t talk but acted like a bird. Icy felt she did not belong in the hospital and resented the other children she was surrounded by. But one staff assistant, Maizy Hurley helped change her perspective. Maizy shared with Icy how she would try to look at things through the eyes of the patients. She would lie on the floor and contort her body like Rose, she would act like a bird like Reid, and she would talk to them because deep down she felt that even though they could not communicate with her, they could understand. Icy tried this too, and one day when talking to Rose, she noticed that Rose would coo and grunt at her and even tried to move her body in Icy’s direction (pg. 123). This changed Icy’s perspective and even though she did not think she belonged with these children, she no longer looked at them with resentment.

Icy met another kind woman, Dr. Conroy, who told Icy that she wanted to determine what was wrong with her and try to diagnose her disorder. However, Icy found it hard to bring herself to talk about her jerks and cussing. Though Icy tried her best to explain it, she did not have any outbursts and was told that she would have to stay at the hospital until they were able to make a diagnosis.

Icy soon realized that there was one person at the hospital who was not nice, Nurse Wilma. Icy witnessed her brushing a student’s teeth with a hairbrush and jabbing her with a safety pin and calling other students terrible names. One day Icy was talking to Ace, a boy who couldn’t talk but could draw anything from memory, when Wilma came in and started telling Ace he was stupid, unwanted, and that he was disgusting. Icy could not hold back any longer and she started screaming how ugly Wilma was then she jumped up, threw back her head and croaked. Despite her outburst, Dr. Conroy was still unable to diagnose her and she was forced to remain in the hospital through Christmas. Icy was devastated at first, but finally cheered up when she was asked to be a wise man in the Christmas play. During the play Wilma managed to push Icy down and humiliate her, and she continued to torment her at the Christmas dinner afterwards. Icy was unable to control herself during dinner and she began jerking, twisting, cussing and croaking, but at last a diagnoses was made. Dr. Conroy explained to Icy that she was a very high-spirited girl and in essence is her own disorder. Dr. Conroy told Icy that she could help teach her how to substitute her jerks and curses for twitches and nicer words and how to stay calm when she feels upset. Dr. Conroy admitted that it might not work all the time but it was definitely worth a try.

Icy finally returned home, but for a long time she was afraid to venture into town for fear of an outburst. And on the day she finally decided to go shopping with Matanni, she was taunted by a former classmate and started cursing and jerking in the grocery store. After this outburst, Icy stayed close to her home and found herself taking a lot of her anger out on her grandparents. But one day, Patanni passed away and Icy found herself having to emotionally support her grandmother. Over time Matanni began going to church again and she was slowly able to recover from the death of her husband. Icy, however, was reluctant to church but one day she decided to go with Matanni to a revival, and when Icy opened her mouth and started to sing, she realized she was able to calm every jerk and urge in her body. Icy had found her own treatment: singing.  Icy went on to attend Berea College and it was there that she was diagnosed with Tourette’s syndrome. The book ends with Icy saying that “if someday the townsfolk say to my daughter, 'You is your mama’s child,' I’ll rejoice in knowing that no one can forget the memory of a golden-haired girl who throws back her head, pops out her eyes, and croaks loudly into the dusk of a hot summer day" (pg.  308).

Suggestions for Discussion in a University 101 Course

Before students read Icy Sparks, have them make a list of ten things they were taught by their community, parents, etc. about their own group (abled) and about individuals from the target group (disabled).

Gather and redistribute the lists so that no one has their own. Have students share what is on the list they were handed. Explain to the students that the purpose of the activity is so that the entire group has an idea of what each student was taught.

Ask the students to read Icy Sparks, choose a character in story who has a disability, and put themselves in that person’s shoes and imagine they had the same disability.

Ask them to write a reflection paper that includes: why they chose the character, in what way did they reflect on the experience (ex: using a wheelchair, not speaking, etc.), and how the experience made them feel.

After collecting the papers take the class on a tour around campus to the most popular buildings such as the Student Center, Dining Hall, and Bookstore. Ask students to imagine they had the disability that they wrote about and to share what difficulties these locations might pose for them or what things were already implemented that could help them. After completing the tour, bring the students back to the classroom for reflection. Ask the class to share how they felt reflecting on these disabilities, and then to imagine how they would feel if they were a current student with that same disability on campus. 

Finally, have students make a new list of how they feel about the target group and have them compare that to what their families and communities taught them. Ask them to share ways that they can respond if they hear their peers making fun of individuals with disabilities.