AHEAD 2015: Preconference Institutes

The AHEAD 2015 Preconference Institutes provide opportunities for attendees to participate in intensive, topic-specific, workshop-style events taught by notable and well-respected experts in their field. Ranging from 3 1/2 hours to two full days, the Institutes are an outstanding chance for Conference attendees to receive in-depth professional development.

Preconference Institutes do require advance registration by July 1, 2015 and an additional tuition fee (separate from the Conference registration fee). On-site registration for Preconference Institutes is not available. Registration for Preconference Institutes includes all instruction materials and refreshment breaks. Meals, housing and travel are not included. Please see the registration form for applicable tuition charges.


Two-Day Preconference Institutes
Monday July 13 & Tuesday July 14
9:00 am-5:30 pm each day

Half-Day Preconference Institutes
Monday July 13, 9:00 am – 12:30 pm

Full-Day Preconference Institutes
Tuesday July 14, 9:00 am-5:30 pm

Half-Day Preconference Institute
Tuesday July 14, 9:00 am-12:30 pm

Half-Day Preconference Institute
Tuesday July 14, 2:00 pm-5:30 pm


Two-Day Preconference Institutes 
Monday July 13 & Tuesday July 14  • 9:00 am-5:30 pm each day 


#PC 1 AHEAD Start: Setting the Landscape for New Professionals

Carol Funckes–University of Arizona

Designed specifically for disability resource professionals who are new to the field, this two-day institute offers a comprehensive overview of the issues that shape postsecondary disability services. No longer only a service office for students, the disability resource office is an vital center of information, collaboration, and technical assistance for the campus community. Higher education administrators, faculty, and students rely on disability resource personnel to provide effective consultation and services to lead the institution in creating inclusive, welcoming campus environments.

Through lecture, discussion, and resource sharing, we will explore how legal principles and philosophical constructs intersect with the practical realities of working in higher education disability services today. We will discuss strategies for moving our campuses beyond a compliance narrative and provide the opportunity for participants to develop a professional network and find confidence in their dual role of service provider and campus consultant. Topics to be covered include:

  • Basics of disability service in higher education, including foundational legal concepts, perspectives of disability, the power of design, and lessons from history and disability studies;
  • Promising approaches for using interview and a variety of forms of information, including third-party documentation, to assess barriers and plan individual accommodations;
  • Strategies for designing service delivery practices that minimize extra efforts by disabled students and frame problems of access as resulting from poorly designed environments;
  • The institution-wide role of the disability resource office in collaborating and consulting on physical, curricular, policy, and information access;
  • Office management: record keeping, budgeting and resource management, and program review and assessment.

AHEAD Start; Audience: Novice

#PC 2 Introduction to Disability Law for DS Professionals

L. Scott Lissner–The Ohio State University
Paul Grossman–Hastings College of the Law; Retired Chief Regional Attorney, OCR, San Francisco

This presentation will give DS professionals a comprehensive introduction to postsecondary disability law and establish a framework for answering the questions they encounter on a daily basis.

This institute will begin by placing the responsibilities of a DSS officer into its civil rights context; reinforcing the importance of a career in DSS services with a review of the history of discrimination against individuals with disabilities and the emergence of the disability rights movement culminating in the adoption of disability laws. We will learn what legal traditions and concepts all anti-discrimination laws share and then what is unique to disability law. As the law shifts emphasis from who is “an individual with a disability” to “qualification” how are the responsibilities of a DSS Officer impacted?

We will provide an exploration of the practical implications of the ADAAA’s definition of disability and the implementing EEOC and impending DOJ regulations, as well as their relationship to the AHEAD Guidance on Documenting Accommodations. Once disability is established what must be done to make programs and facilities accessible to persons with disabilities? What accommodations are, or are not, required in the college and university setting. This will include an exploration of the digital world (websites, academic management tools, on-line learning and adaptive technology), service and comfort animals, housing, ticketing, mobility devices, emergency planning, and more. Topics unique to higher education, such as admissions, discipline and conduct, academic accommodations, and internships will be covered. Individuals with expertise in students with psychiatric disabilities, digital world, and facilities access will join the presentation team.

Included in the registration for this class is a copy of Colker and Grossman, The Law of Disability Discrimination for Higher Education Professionals. The content of this resource is well-aligned with the content of the preconference institute, comprehensively covering most major court decisions and Federal guidance pertaining to the definition of disability and disability discrimination law in the post-secondary setting. For those professionals who must advise their campuses on employment questions, this publication also contains a full chapter on employment discrimination with regard to disability.

Audience: All

#PC 3 Learning Disabilities/ADHD, Psychoeducational Assessment, and Professional Judgment

Rhonda H. Rapp–University of St. Mary, Texas

It is a well-known fact that students with learning disabilities/ADHD are the largest populations of students with disabilities on college campuses today. Most colleges and universities require recent, comprehensive psychoeducational evaluations of students with learning disabilities/ADHD in order to best shape the students’ academic accommodations and related services. However, many postsecondary disability services professionals come to their positions with little knowledge in the complexities of learning disabilities/ADHD and the administration and/or interpretation of psychoeducational evaluations, even though they request assessment documentation in order to prescribe appropriate academic accommodations for students. Now under the ADA, as amended, acceptable sources of documentation for substantiating a student’s learning disability and subsequent request for particular accommodations can take a variety of forms. The first two levels of “acceptable documentation” under the ADA Amendments Act (Student’s Self-Report at the primary level and Observation and Interaction at the secondary level) rely heavily on the disability service provider’s “professional judgment.” In addition (ADA Amendments Act’s ad seriatim process), the possible breadth and depth of the information available at both the primary and secondary levels of acceptable documentation could entirely negate the need for tertiary level documentation (psychoeducational evaluations).

The goal of this institute is to provide an in-depth understanding of learning disabilities; to make psychoeducational reports accessible, meaningful, and useful; and to demonstrate how the information gathered through “student self-report” and/or through “observation and interaction” can be as reliable and valid as information obtained during formal LD standardized assessments. This Institute will provide information focusing on the assessment of learning disabilities from a psychoeducational perspective and from a professional judgment perspective, as well as focusing on how to use the obtained information when providing accommodations and other services for students with learning disabilities. In addition, participants in this session will get a chance to experience first-hand the true purpose of a psychoeducational assessment through participation and/or observation during the administration of several portions of a psychoeducational assessment. This two-day institute will be highly interactive and hands-on; designed to provide ample time for specific questions, examples, demonstrations, case-studies, and discussion.

Audience: Novice

#PC 4 Writing to Win! Mastering Program Planning, Fund Research, and Proposal Composition Strategies

Stephan J. Hamlin-Smith–AHEAD Executive Director 

As traditional funding sources for quality inventive programs and services become ever-more scarce, the absolute need for higher education disability professionals to have refined abilities in program planning, funding research, and proposal writing is increasingly essential. Through a combination of expert lectures, interactive exercises, and practical activities; participants in this highly engaging institute program will become adept in the crucial skills necessary to research, plan, and deliver effective grant proposals. Participants will immerse themselves in an “apply while learning, and learn while applying” model, through working on the fundamentals of their self-chosen real-world proposal throughout the classroom time. The institute content will focus on three major areas:

  • Essential elements and processes of program planning: This institute is centered in the understanding that “it’s all about the program.” This intensive course will teach professional program development essentials and program evaluation. Most grant writing “workshops” address program development and evaluation as separate from the writing of a proposal; this institute will build on the crucial relationship between overall program planning and grant writing.
  • Funding and support research : This institute will address the essential elements of foundation, corporation, and government grant research. The research process will be addressed as a strategic approach that focuses on research as an integrated part of the grant seeking process. This program will teach participants how to use research as a crucial component of the strategic grant acquisition effort.
  • Professional quality grant composition: This program is specifically designed to benefit both the novice and experienced grant proposal writer or program planner. In addition to addressing the basic components of a grant proposal, this institute is infused with expert principles that will lead to a mastery of the process. Strategy resides at the forefront of this institute’s intent to illustrate grant writing as an integrated, multidimensional, and dynamic endeavor.

Participants will complete this two-day institute with a thorough understanding of, and expertise in, the holistic approaches necessary to secure funding through quality program planning, research, and grant proposal writing.

Audience: Intermediate to Advanced

#PC 5 Exploring Power and Privilege Dynamics in Disability Services

Amanda Kraus–University of Arizona
Sharon Downs–University of Arkansas at Little Rock

Many of us are drawn to disability services work because of our commitment to social justice and inclusion. System change requires continuous reflection on our individual roles and responsibilities in the larger system. In this two-day preconference workshop, we will explore dynamics of power and privilege and how they inform our thinking as well as work with students, faculty and other campus constituents.

We must enter into this work with a reflective posture, as we must recognize that we too can be part of the problem—inadvertently contributing to dynamics that maintain the status quo. Participants will reflect on their personal power and privilege and connect to professional practice in disability services.

By situating disability along other community and identity experiences, participants will have time and space to reflect on their personal power and privilege. We will relate to professional practice by exploring how our professional positions may impact building authentic relationships with disabled students and how we may represent disability to campus audiences.

We will then move on to explore how these dynamics impact contemporary and professional concepts of disability. Borrowing from disability studies and disability history, we will look at how disability is currently framed in society. We will explore conscious and unconscious biases about disability and how these ideas may shape our personal and professional ideas.

After reflecting on the impact of bias on disability services, we will focus specifically on disability-related microaggressions, an emerging area of scholarship with important implications for our work. We will review the literature and work collectively to unpack examples of microaggressions and the role we play in either perpetuating or dismantling these experiences.

Finally, we will discuss our roles as allies and advocates. Ally development is a powerful, but potentially contentious, way to declare support and commit to change together – disabled and non-disabled people alike. As disability services professionals, are we de-facto disability allies? Together we will explore questions authenticity in ally development and representation in disability services. We will end with participants developing and discussing specific action items.

Audience: Intermediate to Advanced

#PC 6 Accessible Instructional Materials Program Design and Management

Teresa Haven–Northern Arizona University
Ron Stewart–AltFormatSolutions

Meeting the increasing demand for e-text as an accessible text format depends on sophisticated techniques for production and delivery, as well as understanding of our legal obligations and methods for managing all of the above. While many colleges are creating e-text for students with print disabilities, many more are unaware of the process and requirements of creating e-text.

This two-day workshop will cover the development of alt format production and management techniques, the use of a variety of tools for the creation and editing of digital curricular content, and the development of techniques for data storage and management. Day One will provide theory and foundations.

Day Two will provide advanced topic discussions and hands-on techniques.

Audience: All Access Technologies

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Half-Day Preconference Institutes;
Monday July 13, 9:00 am – 12:30 pm


#PC 7 Basic STEM Access and Document Creation with Central Access Reader (CAR) and CAR Check  ​

Marshall Sunnes–Central Washington University
Wendy Holden–Central Washington University​

Participants will learn how to quickly create basic accessible math in Word with CAR Check, a free add-in for Word. Participants will then learn to how access and even export content quickly to mp3 and HTML within CAR. Central Access Reader (CAR) is a highly customizable, math accessible TTS application for Mac and PC, especially geared for STEM content.

Audience: All Access Technologies-Hands-on Lab

Monday July 13, 2015, 2:00 pm – 5:30 pm

#PC 8 3D Printing : How to Create and Use Tactile Learning Objects

Gaeir Dietrich–California Community Colleges, HTCTU
Lisa Wadors–Benetech
Kaela Parks–Portland Community College

This pre-conference session will provide participants with hands-on exploration of lending libraries that contain high quality print-ready educational 3D models. In addition, participants will see a 3D printer in action, learn how to optimize the usefulness of tactile learning objects in colleges and universities, and gain exposure to emerging resources and best practices.

Download 3D Printing Handout

Audience: All Access Technologies-Hands-on Lab

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Full-Day Preconference Institutes
Tuesday July 14, 9:00 am-5:30 pm 

#PC 9 Taking the Lead on the Path to Access: Ways to Make a Difference on Your Campus

Adam Meyer–University of Central Florida
Kristie Orr–Texas A&M University

We may know a lot about accommodations, processes and specific disabilities. But as employees at our institutions who are expected to develop and maintain access on campus, progress will stall if we do not know how to lead our office and our campus partners on this journey toward greater accessible thinking. This hands-on, interactive session will explore essential concepts all disability professionals need to know in order to make a difference on campus. Topics include:

  • Exploring the purpose of your office
  • Characteristics of leadership
  • Effective communication
  • Building trust
  • Creating and working through change
  • Working intentionally within your office culture
  • Collaborating beyond your office walls

Familiarity with social model thinking as an office direction is beneficial but not required. Those in attendance will be expected to participate in various ways, such as small and large group discussion and role plays. At the end of the discussions, participants will have more tools in their leadership tool kit. From there, the excitement begins in taking it back to campus and figuring out how to further develop your effectiveness as a leader. Disability personnel in all positions and sizes of offices are welcome.

Audience: Intermediate to Advanced

#PC 10 An Interactive Introduction to Faculty Development: Reshaping the Focus of Disability Services

Elizabeth Harrison–University of Dayton

This interactive workshop will (1) introduce participants to faculty development as part of their own work on their campus; (2) explore ways to effectively embed discussion of inclusive design into faculty development; and (3) provide opportunities to practice talking about accessibility in faculty development terms. The facilitator has extensive experience in faculty development and universal design.

Faculty Engagement, Universal Design; Audience: All

CANCELLED #PC 11 Crippin’ the U: ‘Doing’ Disability Studies

Tammy Berberi–Univeristy of Minnesota, Morris>
Susan Burch–Middlebury College

The inaccessible stadium, the dorm with steps but compliant essentials at entry level; course textbooks—but no bestsellers—in alternative formats; inaccessible athletic facilities; no adaptive sports; a degree but precious little attention to career development. When we think about affording access to students, are we focused exclusively on classroom accommodation, or do we aim to support the kind of once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and transformation that we believe higher education to be? Do our campus environments support the holistic growth and relationships that enable students not just to succeed, but to thrive? This pre-conference workshop explores the impact of disability studies for our work, in terms of equity, full participation, and *joy* in campus life, showcasing successful examples of participation beyond the classroom and imagining leadership and collaborative strategies for implementing the foundational principles of disability studies.

Disability Studies; Audience: All

#PC 12 Mental Health Conditions: What DS Providers Should Know

Gordon Dionne–Access Centre, Concordia University
Anna Barrafato–Access Centre, Concordia University

This pre-conference institute will support DS providers in their work with students with mental health conditions focusing on those who present with suicidal ideation, engage in self harm, have eating disorders, or addictions. The goal is to support DS professionals so that they feel confident in making referrals and working with their students, beyond just providing academic accommodations. This session will take a skills-based approach using case studies, group discussions, and is designed for new DS professionals and those without a background in psychology or related fields.

Psychiatric Disabilities; Audience: Novice

#PC 13 The University of Minnesota Disability Resource Center (DRC): An On-Site Experiential Visit

Susan Aase–University of Minnesota
Donna Johnson–University of Minnesota
Mari Magler–University of Minnesota
Cynthia Fuller–University of Minnesota

The Disability Resource Center (DRC), a unit within the Office for Equity and Diversity at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities, has long been viewed as an exemplary postsecondary education disability resource center. This past year the DRC: served 2,125 students and 1,886 employees; delivered 10,554 interpreting hours, 3,822 real-time captioning hours, 925 media hours captioned; 5,660 tests administered; 214,004 document pages converted; and participated in 189 outreach activities.

Participants will visit the Disability Resource Center at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities and experience first hand the work of its eight units: Student Access; UReturn/Employee Services; Document Conversion; Interpreting/Captioning Unit (ICU); Computer Accommodations Program (CAP); Testing Center and Access Assistance; Physical Access; and Outreach/Education and Training.

Each unit’s staff will host a station showcasing the work, processes, and procedures of the unit through interactive experiences, demonstrations and discussion. Participants will have an opportunity to visit each station and gain practical strategies and tools that can be applied to their respective disability resource programs.

Participants will gain practical strategies and tools that can be adapted and applied to their respective disability resource programs.

Audience: All

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Half-Day Preconference Institute
Tuesday July 14, 9:00 am-12:30 pm

#PC 14 Overview of Services for Individuals who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing

Shannon Aylesworth–pepnet 2
Cassie Franklin–pepnet 2

Participants will be given an overview of accommodation options available to individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing. Discussion about innovative applications of accommodations within an ever-changing postsecondary learning environment will be included. pepnet 2 resources designed to support DSS professionals and individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing will also be shared.

Access Technologies-Lecture, Deaf/Hard of Hearing;
Audience: All

#PC 15 Are You an Access Barrier Breaker or Contributor?

Lance Alexis–Middle Tennessee State University

The trend of appropriations for higher education budgets being based on retention and graduation rates along with persistence combined with a continued presence of trepidation from faculty and staff when working with students and other patrons with disabilities makes it increasingly difficult for Disability Services Providers to hold firm to a philosophical hallmark of the profession: access not success. This session is intended to generate a discussion that will lead participants to understandings of ways to speak the language of success while holding true to the tenets of an access based model. The discussion will also focus on guiding principles that will help Disability Services Providers fight the temptation to “give in” and “buy in” by attempting to do everything in house so their offices can show more direct student interaction and avoid dealing with expressed pushback and anxiety from other campus departments when working with patrons with disabilities.

Seasoned DS, Theory, Universal Design; Audience: All

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Half-Day Preconference Institute
Tuesday July 14, 2:00 pm-5:30 pm

#PC 16 Developing an Accessible Information and Communication Technology Policy

Jamie Axelrod–Northern Arizona University
Terrill Thompson–University of Washington
Gaier Dietrich–California Community Colleges,HTCTU

This pre-conference session will provide an opportunity for participants to discuss and explore both challenges and strategies related to the development of information and communication technology policy. Facilitators will bring perspectives and experiences from their institutions and will share resources that could help participants continue or begin this work at their own institutions.

Access Technologies-Lecture; Audience: All

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