Download the April 2015 ALERT in PDF or Text document.

Letter from the Editor

Welcome Spring!  We made it through another winter and now the end of the academic year approaches.  It is hard to believe that another year will soon be over and another class of students will graduate.  This is the time of year I often reflect on what some of the seniors were like as freshman and realize how much they have grown.  It is truly amazing how much of a transformation takes place during their time here.

It is also time to start thinking about the annual AHEAD Conference.  July will be here before we know it and we will be gathering once again with many of our colleagues.  If you have never been to the annual AHEAD Conference, or if you have not been in a while, I would strongly encourage you to attend this year in Saint Paul.  Conference is always a wonderful time to reconnect, share ideas, and learn about the current state of our profession.  I hope to see you all in Saint Paul in July!

Emily (Singer) Lucio
ALERT Editor

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Message from AHEAD President: Bea Awoniyi

Happy New Year and welcome to the 2015 spring semester.  Our association is thriving and so are our members.  Let me use this medium to highlight a few of them. 

Please join me in thanking Dr. David Parker for his dedication over the years to AHEAD through his leadership as the Executive Editor of JPED.  At the same time, we welcome our colleague, Dr. Roger Wessel as JPED’s incoming Executive Editor. Dr. Wessel is a Higher Ed professor and a researcher at Ball State.  Both Drs. Parker and Wessel will work collaboratively for a smooth handover.  I look forward to continuing the good work of JPED to advancing and informing the practice of our profession. 

Also, join me in congratulating our friend and colleague, Assemblywoman Jo Anne Simon who was elected into the New York State (NYS) Assembly.  Her background and efforts have already begun with Dyslexia legislation in NYS and will soon inform the nation.

It was such a pleasure for me to welcome many of our colleagues to Tampa for the 2015 AHEAD Management Institutes.  It was a great time of learning and development.  I thank all those who volunteered their time to share their knowledge and expertise in many areas.  With that success, we can now turn our attention to preparing for the annual AHEAD Conference.  In regards to the national conference, I thank all those who submitted presentation proposals and all those who are working to ensure a great learning and wonderful experience for us in the Twin Cities.  I look forward to meeting you there.

The Best Practices Panel established by the Consent Decree between the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) and the Law School Admission Council (LSAC) has arrived at some recommendations. Read about it on the LSAC website at http://www.lsac.org/lsac-final-panel-report.  The Board is currently reviewing the recommendations to see what actions, if any, we need to take.

 “AHEAD envisions educational and societal environments that value disability and embody equity.”  With that stated vision and its values that include respect for our colleagues and the students we serve, AHEAD works with others to design and embrace inclusive communities.  I challenge us to broaden our thought processes and see how our work will advance the diversity conversation in the coming years.  The AHEAD Board of Directors began the Visioning and Strategic planning process at the end of March and if we truly would like to be comprehensive in our thought processes, those who come to the table to deliberate must represent the diversity within the AHEAD membership.  Feel free to contact me if you have suggestions or ideas for our work.  Please keep in mind that AHEAD is a membership organization. Our continued relevance and existence is dependent on the work of good members like you so please feel free to find ways in which you can contribute, be involved, and get engaged.  And if you have suggestions please feel free to contact me at bea.awoniyi@sfcollege.edu.

During this time each year, AHEAD provides opportunities for engagement.  Within the next day or week AHEAD will again call on you to step up and become engaged in all ways possible.  The number of members who vote in AHEAD Board elections has decreased over the years.  It is unclear why that is the case but we would like to get more people involved in this process.  If you would like to learn more about becoming a member of the AHEAD Board of Directors or you have suggestions on how we can garner more participation, please give me a call at 352-395-5513 or send me an email at bea.awoniyi@sfcollege.edu.  I challenge our membership to nominate people who can, are willing, and are able to contribute to the conversations and lead our organization into the future.

Voting is not the only way you can participate; in the next few weeks, you will also have the opportunity to nominate yourself or colleagues for different recognitions and awards.  We all know people who work tirelessly to promote the philosophy of our organization and our work. Others may not even know your work if you are a single person office; so feel free to nominate yourself and help all of us recognize you and learn from your good work.

Thanks you for your confidence in the Board and in me as your President.  Please feel free to share your ideas and feedback with me or any of the Board members.

Bea Awoniyi, PhD.
President, AHEAD

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Professional Development

Registration for the Annual AHEAD Conference is Now Open!

"Diverse Perspectives Creating a Vision for the Future" will bring disability and higher education professionals together in Saint Paul Minnesota, July 13-18, 2015 at the award-winning St. Paul RiverCentre.

This is a great time for professional development, networking, and comradery in a culturally diverse city.

All of the information that you need to plan and register for the conference is available at: http://www.ahead.org/meet/conferences/2015

Professional Development Opportunities

2014-15 has been a busy year of events at AHEAD. Our institutes and online training have drawn hundreds of participants, and there are still some webinars for you to participate in this Spring! Details are available via the AHEAD homepage.

The “Building Up Your Disability Services Toolkit” is in full swing. Designed by the HBCU Consortium, these upcoming titles are open to all AHEAD members:

April 22 - Universal Design for Learning 101
May 6 - Realities of Interpreting and CART Services
May 20 - Technology for Students with Disabilities


AHEAD to You to has two more sessions available:

April 30, 2015 - Disability Studies 101: What Professionals Want to Know
May 7, 2015 - Gender, Sexuality, and Disability: An Introduction


And, we have another timely pop-up webinar in the works:

Concussions: Understanding the Impact to the Brain and How to Best Create a Cohesive Approach to Providing Support Services

May 13 & 20, 2015

More details to follow at the AHEAD homepage!

AAMC Free Webinars

Apr 14, 2015 3:00 pm:  An Introduction to the Coalition for Disability Access in Health Science and Medical Education                                                                                
May 14, 2015 3:00 pm:  Disability Law 101: What Faculty Need to Know About Student Accommodations
Jun 10, 2015 3:00 pm:  Separating Fact From Fiction: Debunking Disability Myths and Addressing Legitimate Concerns                                                                               
Jul 9, 2015 3:00 pm:  Clinical Accommodations: Upholding Standards While Creating Equal Access  
Aug 20, 2015 3:00 pm:  Putting It In Writing: The Value of Creating Clear and Effective Policies for Students with Disabilities                                                                               
Sep 9, 2015 3:00 pm:  Creating a Balance: Professionalism, Communication, and Students with Disabilities
Visit this link for more information

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2015 AHEAD Conference

Rachel Kruzel, Co-Chair
Caidin Riley, Co-Chair

Top Ten Reasons to Visit Saint Paul, Minnesota for the National AHEAD Conference!
With the AHEAD Conference coming to Saint Paul this summer, check out these ten reasons to make a mid-summer trip to Minnesota!

10. Landmark Center: A cultural center and historical landmark in the heart of downtown Saint Paul. Visit the Landmark Center for local dance, music, theater, exhibits, museums, and special events. The unique architecture alone is worth the short walk to the Center.

9. Minnesota State Capital and Cathedral of Saint Paul: For those up for a longer walk, both the state capital and the cathedral are well worth exploring. The sheer magnitude and detail of both 100 year old buildings is incredible.

8. Wasbasha Caves: Take a step back in time to the early 1900’s and the era of gangster, prohibition and flappers! Explore the caves by taking a tour and learn about their centrality to the Saint Paul gangster history.

7. Local Festivals: With festivals celebrating our heritage, cultures and beliefs, there are a handful to attend just prior to and after the AHEAD Conference including the Dragon Boat Festival and Rhondo Days Celebration.

6. Fitzgerald Theater and Ordway Center for the Performing Arts: For the theater buffs, check out a show at one of the two pinnacle performance venues in Saint Paul. With the Fitzgerald Theater as the oldest running theater in Saint Paul, consider getting a ticket that transports you to Lake Wobegon for the night.

5. Minnesota Summer Patios: Spend a night enjoying the outdoors on a Saint Paul patio! Have a cold beverage on a hot summer night in the company of friends; some with great views of the city. Take your pick from this unofficial top ten list of best Saint Paul patios.

4. Outdoor Music, Movies and Events: With Music and Movies in the Parks, Rice Park, Mears Park and countless other outdoor spaces in the heart of downtown, take a little time to enjoy the outdoor beauty Saint Paul has to offer!

3. Food, Food Trucks and Local Brews: Mmmmm yum yum yum yum yum. A million ways to indulge in tasty cuisine and brews in the home of the Jucy Lucy and hot dish. Take a look at this video of the Best Places in St. Paul to break a New Year’s Resolution! Or consider participating in one of the Minnesota Brewery Running Series 5ks while you’re in town. Not your typical 5k!

2. Science Museum of Minnesota: With innovation and exploration at the center of this attraction, spend Thursday night networking with old and few friends over some grub and local pours. More information about the Thursday Night Social Event coming soon!

1. AHEAD Conference is in Saint Paul this summer!! Need we say more!?

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Standing Committees

Standing Committee on Member Development
Mika Watanabe, Co-Chair
Ken Marquard, Co-chair

AHEAD International Interview Series
To provide an opportunity for AHEAD members to know and understand the diversity of international disability issues and perspectives along with an opportunity to get to know our international members, the Standing Committee on Member Development has initiated a series of interviews with international members and these are posted on the International Portal listserv at http://ahead-listserve.org/mailman/listinfo/international_ahead-listserve.org or on the Standing Committee page under the Member Development section at http://www.ahead.org/standing-committees/member-development.

The interviews posted are from members in Canada and India and shortly there will be interviews from Singapore and Japan.  We hope these interviews will be just the beginning of bringing our international members together to share their thoughts and ideas from which all of us would benefit in a smaller but more complex world.  The Committee invites all AHEAD members to benefit from the variety of approaches to disability as well as some of the interesting resources shared by international members.  In Part 2 of each interview there is an opportunity to get to know the international member and the work she or he is doing in their country to affect progress in higher education for students (and faculty members) with disabilities, or to advance disability studies.

Standing Committee on Technology
Kaela Parks, Co-Chair
Teresa Haven, Co-Chair

Now that Conference registration is open, the Standing Committee on Technology is excited to share information about the line-up of sessions and pre-conference opportunities we have planned. For example, there is an opportunity to learn about alternate format production workflows through a comprehensive two day training, or to try a half-day session on a variety of topics that range from 3-D printing, to developing an accessible information and communication technology policy, to producing accessible math or serving the needs of students who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing.

For the conference itself, we have a full track of general conference sessions plus a full track in the lab to provide hands-on learning opportunities. From web accessibility evaluation tools to post production captioning, we've got you covered. Of special note is a session we are offering in the final block of the conference, which is designed to solicit input from members. We want to know what you want to see more of in terms of technology related professional development opportunities, tools, and information sources. We'll share information on what we see coming down the line, and use your feedback to shape future offerings from the Standing Committee on Technology.

Diversity Standing Committee
Amanda Kraus, Chair

As we look forward to convening in St. Paul this July, the Diversity Standing Committee is delighted to share Diversity and Social Justice Strand for our 2015 annual conference.  Our sincere thanks to those of you who designed interesting and progressive workshops to help us expand our concept of diversity and think differently about our practice.

  • #1.5  Exploring Our Identities and Privilege in Service to Social Justice
    Scott Marshall, University of Minnesota
    Sara Paul, University of Minnesota
    Sue Lindgren, University of Minnesota
  • #2.5  S(EXploring) Disability: Normalizing Disability and Sexuality
    Margaret Camp, University of South Carolina Upstate
    Tiffany Bailey, University of North Carolina Chapel Hill
    #3.5  Capitalizing on the Sustainability Movement: Reinforcing the Importance of Accessibility and Inclusion on Your Campus
    Jen Dugger, Portland State University
    Sharon Downs, University of Arkansas - Little Rock
  • #4.5  Ensuring Every Voice is Heard
    Sharon Downs, University of Arkansas - Little Rock
    Amanda Kraus, University of Arizona
  • #5.5  Socially Just Disability Awareness Programming
    Roundtable: Diversity Standing Committee
  • #6.5  Welcoming and Effectively Including International Students with Disabilities in Your Institution
    Michele Scheib, Mobility International USA
    Sue Jin Hee Lindgren, University of Minnesota
  • #7.5  Trans* and Disabled: A Practitioner's Guide for Getting it Right
    Jen Dugger, Portland State University
    Joe Ippolito, Metropolitan State and Argosy Universities, Alina Health Systems
  • #8.3  Exploring the Intersections of Disability with Other Identities and Experiences
    Jay Wilson, University of Minnesota
    Linda Wolford, University of Minnesota

Standing Committee on Professional Development

The AHEAD Standing Committee on Professional Development is launching a new concept for the ALERT in which disability service providers provide responses to a specific question posed by committee members. The goal is to offer all AHEAD members guidance and ideas to ponder on a specific topic in an effort to further our own professional development.

For this publication, committee member Adam Meyer (University of Central Florida) asked the following question: What leadership skills do you feel are the most important in guiding your disability office?

Responses are as follow:

The following has been submitted by Kimberly Tanner, Valdosta State University:

If I had to pick a top “leadership skill,” it would be communication. Without good communication, it is not likely that any other skills will lead to much. A second vital skill that I believe helps advance the mission of the office is what StrengthsFinder (based on research developed by the Gallup Organization) refers to as “WOO” (“Winning Others Over”). The ability to influence others, either in the office or across campus, is integral to my role on campus. For those of us who are working on creating inclusive, sustainable environments, we need to be able to convince others of the role that they play since it is necessary to have everyone doing their part.   

The following has been submitted by Randall Ward, Eastern Michigan University:

I think a leader needs to have a long term vision of what they want to have the office look like, and then to be able to facilitate the office dialogue through the training, experiences etc., necessary to begin the process of moving in that direction, in a systemic and somewhat unified approach.

Other essentials:
Being cognizant of modeling the behavior they expect of others.
Being willing to acknowledge what it is they do not know, while being willing to explore options with team members.
Being genuine and authentic, which comes from being comfortable with who they are.

The following has been submitted by Dede Norungolo, Clemson University:

We must try to consistently model certain behaviors in and out of our offices. I believe that understanding our own biases is necessary for providing students with the most accurate, current and adequate assistance in a postsecondary institution. I’m a firm believer in communication. Being open to a steady flow of communication between students, faculty and staff will often lead to a greater ability to delegate and manage others. And humor is helpful. Being able to laugh, even guffaw, together, helps to reduce on-the-job stress. In the end, it's about how we LEAD - listen, educate ourselves, adapt to change and do what we say we will do in our missions!

The following has been submitted by Jennifer Del Valle, Florida Southern College:

First, you must have a passion for social justice and the strength to fight the battle in many cases.  You must be willing to take risks to affect change; however, you must also be willing to fail and learn from the failure.  You must be a proactive and thoughtful leader, keeping the creativity and compassion alive through the day-to-day.  By surrounding yourself with a supportive team, most of the challenges can be seamlessly solved.  While we must sometimes spend more time than we would like on educational and clerical types of tasks, it is important to always reflect on the why – why are we doing what we are doing each day?  The answer to that question should refreshingly motivate you to continue to come to work and lead each day.

The following has been submitted by Shawna Foose, Tulane University:

My leadership style consists of authenticity, equality, integrity and warmth.  Although I am not the leader of our disability office by title (I am the Assistant Director), I actively foster an environment of social justice.  At our university, I am steadfast in identifying ways to engage with the campus community to bring the voice of accessibility to the table in all areas. By authentically engaging students, faculty, staff, and other community partners in conversations about access in our environment, I aim to broaden the scope of understanding so that others may begin to construct a more inclusive environment for all. Additionally, integrity is a critical value in our office and work in the campus community. Staying rooted in my core values and meeting each person with warmth and empathy, helps me to maintain my professional position while still welcoming and hearing their points of view.

The following has been submitted by Shelby Acteson, Oregon Health and Science University:

In identifying some of the most important leadership skills for providing disability services at our large medical sciences university, I would have to start with qualities that come from the heart - empathy and compassion - for both the students and the faculty/clinicians/administrators that work with them.  Being able to step into the shoes of others, if only temporarily, helps to instill trust and foster greater understanding of individual perspectives, especially when determining reasonable accommodations in the clinical setting. 

And then there are qualities that come from the head – effective communication and education – that provide opportunities to increase awareness, share decision-making and inspire others to support students with disabilities.  Being able to tailor communications to each individual in the DS process in a clear, concise and consistent manner is an important skill, as is the ability to provide guidance and learning opportunities firmly rooted in research (including case law specific to disabilities in the medical sciences), best practices and professional collaborations.   

And, finally, we need curiosity and creativity, without which we would not see the possibilities of the heart or have the motivation of the head.

The following has been submitted by Jamie Axelrod, Northern Arizona University:

The leadership skills I find most important are the ability to remain flexible and the ability to consider situations and circumstances from multiple points of view. If we are asking others to be flexible and to modify or adapt how they do their work then I think we need to model that same ability. Being able to see situations from many angles also seems to be part of what we do every day. Considering the specifics of individual situations is a hallmark of our work.

Interestingly, I find that when I use these skills not just to work through student requests but when I am handling questions about office operations, campus policies or helping with conflict resolution, they always come in handy. I think having and using these skills often makes us uniquely qualified to take on other difficult challenges we encounter on campus.

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Special Interest Groups (SIGs)

Disability Studies

Karen Pettus, Co-Chair
Susan Mann Dolce, Co-Chair

Be sure to catch Susan Mann Dolce’s webinar Disability Studies 101: What Professionals Want to Know, on April 30, 2015 from 3:00 – 4:30 EST.  Participants in this interactive webinar will be able to explain what Disability Studies is (from past and current disability studies scholars), discuss its historical and philosophical origins and why it is important to the DS field.  The webinar was developed using all of the ideas generated at the Disability Studies Special Interest Group Meeting at the AHEAD 2014 conference. Specific examples will be provided of ways to use disability studies to inform professional service and develop programs, which will be more fully discussed in other concurrent sessions at AHEAD 2015 (see below). If you are interested in Disability Studies and would like to learn some of the basics this is a great opportunity! Another version of this information will be presented as Concurrent Session 1.3 at AHEAD, so if you are not able to make it to the AHEAD conference this year, or if you would like to attend a different concurrent session 1, register for this webinar.

The Disability Studies SIG is looking forward to seeing everyone at AHEAD this year! Disability Studies has a topical track of conference sessions designed to explain Disability Studies and ways DS professionals can use Disability Studies to inform their office policies and procedures with a goal of providing inclusive programs and services and promoting an appreciation of the experiences of students with disabilities. 

Presentations include:

  • #1.3 Introduction to Disability Studies: What Every Professional Wants to Know
    Susan Mann Dolce–University at Buffalo
  • #2.3 Re-thinking the Disability Paradigm: A Conversation to Have with Faculty and Staff
    Randall Ward–Eastern Michigan University
  • #3.3 Integrating Disability Studies and Disability Services: At the Intersection of Theory & Praxis
    Lauren Rose Strand–The Ohio State University
  • #4.3 Discovering our Pasts: Using Archival and Oral History Research in Disability Services
    Adam Crawford–The Ohio State University
    Katheryne Staeger-Wilson–Missouri State University
  • #5.3 The Tropes Trap: Cultural (Mis)Representations of Disability
    Margaret Camp–University of South Carolina Upstate
  • #6.3 The Tension Disability Studies Creates in the Academy
    Carol Marfisi–Temple University
  • #7.3 You Say Tomato: A Workshop on Bridging the Gap between Disability Services and Studies
    Sue Kroeger–University of Arizona
    Donna Johnson–University of Minnesota
    Tammy Berberi–University of Minnesota, Morris
  • #8.3 Exploring the Intersections of Disability with Other Identities and Experiences
    Jay Wilson–University of Minnesota
    Linda Wolford–University of Minnesota

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Affiliate’s Corner

Terra Beethe, Affiliate Liaison BOD
Kim Ochsenbein, Lead Affiliate Representative

This time of year brings regional professional development workshops all across the country.  Several offerings are highlighted in the updates below.  Please also feel free to visit the Regional Affiliate page on the AHEAD website for the most current information.  The affiliates are also gearing up for our annual spring conference call and AHEAD 2015 in St. Paul, MN.

Submitted respectfully,
Terra Beethe, BOD Affiliate Liaison
Kim Ochsenbein, Lead Affiliate Representative

Updates from our regional affiliates:

AHEAD in Texas
2015 Spring Conference, AHEAD in Texas: Riding the Waves of Change The 23rd Annual Conference of the Association on Higher Education And Disability in Texas April 8-10, 2015, Moody Gardens , Galveston, TX, (888) 388-8484 Mark your calendars & book your rooms as soon as possible!  The conference will be focused on new ways of understanding and creating access for students with disabilities in the ever changing environment of higher education. For more information contact:  Rachel Cox, rachel.cox@tamucc.edu

Ark-AHEAD will be having its ONE-DAY Spring Workshop on Friday, April 10th  at Pulaski Technical College in North Little Rock, AR.  Jamie Axelrod, AHEAD President-Elect and Dr. Teresa Haven both from Northern Arizona University will be our key note speakers.  Jamie will be presenting the morning session entitled Don’t Fan the Flames!  Turn Angry Faculty Emails into Positive Outcomes.  Teresa will be presenting the afternoon session entitled AT, EIT, Accessibility, Usability:  What the DS Professional Needs to Know About Technology in the 21st For registration information please contact Doris Pierce, Ark-AHEAD President at president@arkahead.org .

CAHEAD and MD AHEAD (also sponsored by AHEAD)  Accessible Instructional Materials & Technology Summit in Higher Education Thursday, June 18th and Friday, June 19th, 8:30 am-4:30 pm  A 2 Day conference that will bring together national figures in accessibility issues from the Civil Rights Division, US Department of Justice, the National Federation of the Blind, the United States Access Board and The Association on Higher Education and Disability.  The speakers will address our obligations for accessibility of all types of instructional materials and on developing an institutional plan for accessibility of instructional materials and technology and how we can work collaboratively to address those expectations. To Register:  http://ahead.org/AIMT_summit

The FL-AHEAD welcomes Dr. Danette Saylor from Florida A&M, Tallahassee FL as our President Elect!  St. Petersburg College’s Retention Services, Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning (CETL) and the Florida Association on Higher Education and Disability (FL-AHEAD) present the NARROWING THE GULF CONFERENCE  April 9-10, 2015, St. Petersburg College EpiCenter, 13805 58th St. N, Largo, FL Claudia Connelly, claudia.connelly@sfcollege.edu

Illowa AHEAD
Illiowa AHEAD will be hosting a Roundtable discussion, ‘Helping Faculty Understand Sheldon’s Spot:  “Couching” Autism through the Big Bang Theory’ on Friday, April 17th at Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Illinois. This presentation is the product of Lisa Meeks, Ph.D., Jennifer Murchison, M.A., and Michelle Rigler, Ed.D., and was presented in Sacramento last July.  They have graciously given their permission for Illowa AHEAD to share their material.  An afternoon session will be conducted by Dr. Gail Richard “Autism and the Transition to College.”  Members of other AHEAD affiliates may register for member rates. For more information please contact Abbey Lesko-Youngberg at aeleskoyoungbe@eiu.edu

Kansas AHEAD
The Kansas AHEAD affiliate hosted a spring conference at the University of Kansas on Friday, April 10, 2015. The conference featured a live web cast of Jodi Sleeper-Triplett from JST Coaching on “Coaching the Struggling Student”. Also presenting were Great Plains ADA Center staff and the KU ADA Coordinator, Jamie Simpson, on the topic of “Not only Physical – Programmatic Access and Inclusion”. A state meeting was also held.

MOAHEAD will be hosting its statewide spring conference on Friday, May 29 on the University of Missouri campus in Columbia.  Claire Fitzgerald, attorney for the Office of Civil Rights in the Kansas City office, will offer an update on recent case law, followed by a Q&A.  The conference will close with a presentation on the History of Disability as Represented in Art, by Dr. Brick Johnstone, neuropsychologist and faculty member in the MU School of Health Professions.  For more information, please contact Barb Hammer at hammerb@missouri.edu, or visit our website (http://moahead.org).

New England AHEAD
New England AHEAD will be hosting its annual conference entitled “Developing Policies and Procedures for Today's Hottest Topics” on May 21st and 22nd at Salem State University. The focus of the conference will be on establishing, renewing or up-dating many of the policies and procedures that our offices create and follow (service animal, assistance animal, housing accommodations, meal plan accommodations, course substitutions/ waivers, study abroad, etc…). Salome Hayward will guide us off with a look at the recent case law and OCR complaints. The evening of the 21st we will also be hosting a NE AHEAD social activity for anyone who is attending the conference. We will also be able to offer a discounted hotel rate. To register, please use this link: https://www.regonline.com/newenglandahead2015springconference.

Oklahoma AHEAD
Oklahome AHEAD will be hosting our Annual Conference on April 9-10, 2015 at the University of Central Oklahoma located in Edmond, Oklahoma.  Topics will include transition into higher education, assistive technology, and others.  Members of other AHEAD affiliates may register for member rates.  For more information, please look to the webpage, http://www.ok-ahead.org/confrnce.html.

ORAHEAD will be holding its spring conference April 23-24 at Portland State University. Topics include assistive technology, ADHD strategies, supporting students on the spectrum, disability and diversity, and the always popular list-serv in realtime. Visit http://orahead.org for more information, or contact us at orahead@orahead.org.

WAPED will be hosting its Spring 2015 conference April 15th-17th in Leavenworth, WA. Amy Capolupo and Janet Sedgley from the University of Montana will be our key note speakers sharing their “Lessons and Pitfalls on Campus Accessibility” two years post the campus’ OCR case. Other conference topics include; working with students in clinical and internship experiences, incorporating academic coaching into DS offices, and exploring easy and helpful apps for students. For more information please contact Bree at breec@uw.edu or view more detailed information at http://waped.org/

WINAHEAD (Western Iowa and Nebraska )
WINAHEAD will be hosting a Spring conference on May14-15, 2015 in Grand Island , Nebraska at College Park ( Central Community College ). The focus will be Hands On Accessibility and Learning.   Representatives from APPLE and Kurzweil as well as the Nebraska Adaptive Technology Project will lead hands on training for attendees.  Members of other AHEAD affiliates may register for member rates. For more information please contact Melinda Classen at mclassen@mccneb.edu.

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Hot off the Press

The co-chairs of the ASD SIG, Dr. Lisa Meeks and Dr. Michelle Rigler have both published books related to supporting young adults on the Autism Spectrum through Jessica Kingsley Publishers.

Helping Students with Autism Spectrum Disorder Express their Thoughts and Knowledge in Writing by Dr Meeks
Book one of four:  Independence, Social, and Study Strategies for College Students with Autism Spectrum Disorder: The Basics College Curriculum by Dr. Michelle Rigler
Book two of four, Available in 2015:  Developing Identity, Strengths, and Self-Perception for Young Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder: The Basics College Curriculum by Dr. Michelle Rigler

The Documentary Invitation to Dance Is An Invitation To Remake The World

By Jeff Tamblyn

Our collective memory about disability history is short. Although most U.S. citizens now take simple amenities such as curb cuts, designated parking spaces, and ASL interpreters at public events for granted, most have no memory of the cataclysmic battles that made even those small changes possible. Few seem to understand that the battles continue today. “There’s a glaring gap in our cultural knowledge and that’s partly what drove us to make the film,” says Christian von Tippelskirch who produced and directed the film Invitation to Dance together with Simi Linton. The film uses Simi as a role model. “Her own evolution as a disabled woman parallels the progress of the disability rights movement.  As the film makes clear, the world has much catching up to do,” he smiles.

I recently ran into Simi Linton near her home on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. The New York-based disability-rights activist appeared to be at ease speeding through bustling crowds in a motorized wheelchair on her way to a coffee date with friends. I’m not a native New Yorker as she is, but if the city seems hostile and imposing to me at times, I have to wonder how it – and the rest of the world – appear to her. Invitation to Dance, about her life in the disability rights movement, provides an intimate and thought-provoking examination.

Disposed to dance – and protest injustice – from an early age, Simi’s accidental paralysis at 23 forced her to redefine her identity as well as her future. “I was fortunate,” she says, “to have family members and friends who helped me imagine and pursue a full life, despite the marginalized role society wanted to force me into.” The real changes started to happen when, thanks to colleagues in Disability Studies, she began to understand that it was society – not the disabled population – that needs to adapt.

Invitation to Dance is a celebration of the slow but steady stream of profound personal and political victories in Simi’s life and the battle for full personhood waged by every disabled person. Densely packed with meaning and experience, it provides example after example of injustices experienced by people with all kinds of disabilities, thoughtful interviews with Simi and her family and colleagues, and an interwoven series of breathtaking dance sequences bursting with inventive artistry and powerful imagery which are perhaps more articulate about the experience of disability than any words.

“My victory over the alienation I felt in the early years came largely through a return to my first love, dance,” Simi says. “Getting back out on the dance floor at a party woke me up, invigorated me, and showed me a way to be in this new body I had.  I also came to recognize dance as a meaningful metaphor for the work that we do in disability rights.”  One aspect of this metaphor is expressed in the film by a friend of Simi’s who is blind, Rod Michalko, who ruminates good-naturedly about how his life is a continual dance with “sightedness…which always wants to lead.”

Invitation to Dance contains countless instances of courage in the face of dehumanization, and is richly filled with the thinking of Simi and others about how disability discrimination is expressed in thought and speech, public policy, architecture and design, and throughout the arts.

Ultimately, the experience of accepting one’s own body and needs in a world filled with obstacles is a universal story and one that nearly any audience can relate to.

Invitation to Dance is currently available through Kino Lorber EDU on DVD, for campus and community screenings, and for use in classrooms and research. Contact Jeff Tamblyn, Director of Educational Sales at Kino Lorber EDU, at 212 629 6880 or at jtamblyn@kinolorber.com. Learn more at Kino Lorber EDU’s official film page. http://www.kinolorberedu.com/film.php?id=1787

Submitted by
Jeff Tamblyn
212 629 6880