The articles published in the ALERT represent the opinions of the authors and are not an endorsement by the Association or necessarily representative of the views of the Association.
- Letter from the Editor
- Message from AHEAD President Mike Shuttic
- Professional Development. Take advantage of these upcoming events, conferences, and other opportunities to increase and share your knowledge.
- Research Study on Factors that Influence Adaptation to College for Students with Disabilities
- REFRAMING DISABILITY: The Power of Words
- Top 10 Areas of Support for Students with Asperger’s and LD As They Transition to College
- Five Ways to Globalize your Work
- A First Year Experience
- WGBH's National Center for Accessible Media and Research in Motion Enable Closed-Captioning Support for BlackBerry® Smartphones
Dear AHEAD Colleagues,
This issue of the ALERT comes to us on the eve of the AHEAD conference in Denver, CO.
As always, AHEAD President Mike Shuttic offers sound advice, particularly relevant in light of the upcoming conference. What happens when we look “outside the defined lines of ‘disability services’?” Recognizing that as individuals we each have an original perspective that informs our approach is an important starting point as we seek to be more inclusive and to “broaden the perspective of our work.”
Be sure to read this issue’s article in the “Reframing Disability” series, about the power of words in shaping perceptions of disability, and a short piece about a course at UConn for students’ on the Autism Spectrum. These articles and more await you inside this issue of the ALERT.
This will be my final issue as editor of the ALERT – stay tuned for more information on where to send articles and information on opportunities for professional development. See you in Denver!
The issue of “access” continues to grow and permeate all aspects of society—returning service personnel, universal health care, social justice, e-books. In turn, the impact, and awareness, of individuals outside the defined lines of “disability services” also grows. There is no person or area unaffected by disability and access. Therefore, everyone has a role. Whether there is interest or responsibility or investment is something that can be supported and/or facilitated.
The defined lines of professional fields, prescribed responsibilities, and academia’s hierarchical structure often inhibit obvious action. It is in finding commonalities that permeate across lines that the broader lens of “humanity” can replace that of “disability”, allowing for dovetailed efforts and greater impact. Identifying and addressing the needs of individuals incorporates the needs of all the subsets that exist. Like religions that espouse differences of philosophy and tenets, all share a common ground of respectfulness, service to others/community, and self-discipline. Each individual/entity works from a particular perspective. Recognition of crossover or shared interests leads to understanding, which lends to inclusiveness. Structure (e.g. organizational chart) and systems (e.g. legal, medical, educational) are meant to aid in effective management; to delineate areas of expertise; and to provide a point of reference for accountability. Operating within such structure/system with an eye toward the broader impact indicates insight.
An opportunity exists for anyone to reach across lines. Beliefs may be challenged. As a result practices may change. Working to address obstacles for one individual often has application to a broader population whether or not initially recognized (e.g. e-books). Raising awareness, identifying a nexus, and exacting change is never (effectively) accomplished by demand or dictate. Self-recognition is essential. That process must be fostered no matter the timeline. Laws provide a framework, though morality and humanity are unable to be legislated. Let us challenge ourselves to broaden the perspective of our work.
Professional Development. Take advantage of these upcoming events, conferences, and other opportunities to increase and share your knowledge.
Calls for Presentations and Articles:
The deadline for submissions for the next issue of the ALERT will is TBD.
AHEAD and Affiliate Events:
August 25-28, 2010, Leadership Exchange in Arts and Disability (LEAD)
2010 Conference and Training
San Diego, California
The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts
2700 F Street, NW Washington, DC 20566
Come to San Diego, California August 25-28 for the 2010 LEAD Conference! The conference opens with eight in-depth pre-conference workshops followed by three full days of interactive discussions, including the ever-popular legal session with a representative from the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice. Each day is packed with opportunities to network and experience the latest accessible technologies – there’s even a chance to take an accessible tour of the San Diego Zoo!
New to LEAD this year is the first of what will become a series of capacity building workshops. These hands-on sessions are open to individuals who work with arts administrators to provide high-quality accessibility services. Our inaugural seminar will train new describers and provide professional development for those who are experienced.
Contact us to be added to the mailing list and to receive updates about conference events!
For more information on LEAD, please visit www.kennedy-center.org/lead.
(202) 416-8727 (voice), (202) 416-8728 (TTY), (202) 416-8802 (fax)
October 21-23, 2010
Closing The Gap 28th Annual Conference
The most practical, practitioner-driven AT conference in North America
This year's conference builds on a tradition of providing a comprehensive examination of the most current uses of technology by persons with disabilities and the professionals who work with them.
Topics will cover a broad spectrum of technology as it is being applied to all disabilities and age groups in education, rehabilitation, vocation, and independent living.
Come and learn, first-hand, about the products and best AT practices and strategies by and for teachers, therapists, clinicians, parents and end users alike.
Contact: Closing The Gap
526 Main St
PO Box 68
Henderson, MN 56044
November 15 - 19, 2010
13th Annual Accessing Higher Ground - Accessible Media, Web and Technology Conference
Boulder, Colorado, USA
Disability Services at the University of Colorado at Boulder presents Accessing Higher Ground: Accessible Media, Web and Technology Conference for Education, for Businesses, for Web and Media Designers.
Accessing Higher Ground focuses on the implementation and benefits of Assistive Technology in the university and college setting for people with sensory, physical and learning disabilities. Other topics include legal and policy issues, including ADA and 508 compliance, and making campus media and information resources - including Web pages and library resources - accessible.
In Collaboration with AHEAD, EASI and ATHEN
Hosted by the University of Colorado-Boulder
Dear AHEAD Members:
I am a graduate student in Counselor Education and Supervision at Penn State University. I would like your help with my dissertation research. I am specifically looking for the participation of students with disabilities at four-year colleges and universities. I would like to ask your assistance with passing along my survey to students registered with your office. If you have a general email announcement list, all you would need to do is send the attached email inviting students to participate. This invitation has the link to the on-line survey. If you do not maintain an email list for your students, a flyer invitation/announcement with the web address for the survey is available here. If you would be willing to forward an email or post a flyer invitation in view of your students, I would be very grateful. If students have any questions related to the survey, they are to be directed to me or to my supervising faculty member.
The survey will take 10-20 minutes and is designed to understand the factors that influence adaptation to college for students with disabilities. The on-line survey is supported by Survey Gizmo which has been rated the most accessible survey tool on the web. It is fully accessible to users of screen reading and magnification software, and is also keystroke navigable. In exchange for their participation, students who complete the survey will have an opportunity to enter a raffle to win one of ten $25.00 gift cards to Amazon.com.
As with any research project, this research is being performed with Penn State University Office for Research Protections Institutional Review Board approval and is under the supervision of my Dissertation Chair, Dr. Brandon Hunt. If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact me at the phone number or email address below. Or, you are also welcome to contact Dr. Hunt at 814-863-2408 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you elect assist me, please send me a quick email confirming your participation, the name of your college or university, and the approximate number of students to whom you will forward the survey. Thank you for your time, attention, interest, and assistance with my dissertation research.
Samantha J. Herrick, M.S., CRC, NCC, ABD
Doctoral Candidate – Counselor Education and Supervision
Disability Specialist – Office for Disability Services
The Pennsylvania State University
116 Boucke Building
University Park, PA 16801
June Reinert, Disability Resource Services, University of Wisconsin-La Crosse
Have you ever wondered what disabled students think as they leave your office? What kind of messages are we giving them?
Words are very powerful. They are like the paint an artist uses to express their impressions of the world around them. With words, we paint the limits and possibilities of our reality and our student’s reality. Although we think we use words in the same way to mean the same thing, each person has frames (mental images) that bring different meanings to words. This is because of past experiences. Our language, therefore, is affected by our thinking and brings our personal perceptions of reality into existence.
When students come to us, some are ashamed to admit they require our services. Some, because they have been shielded from discussing their disability, have a difficulty expressing their needs or their understanding of the barriers they experience on campus. When I interviewed a student and her parents the other day, the student said she had never told anyone about her disability, even her best friend from kindergarten, and every time she would utter “learning disability” she would cry. The parents explained they didn’t talk about it much and that most of their daughter’s teachers did not even know of the challenges their daughter faced in traditional classes. As we talked about possible accommodations available to the student, I felt that the student andthe parents were exploring the word “disabilities” for the first time, grappling with the perceptions and implications of being labeled with a learning disability, feeling that it had a negative connotation
Recently I previewed an on-line video presentation by Aimee Mullins at TED called “The Opportunity of Adversity”. Aimee Mullins was born without fibular bones; both of her legs were amputated below the knee when she was an infant. She learned to walk using prosthetic leg. As an adult, Aimee competed at the national and international level as a champion sprinter, setting world records at the 1996 Paralympics in Atlanta. At Georgetown, where she double-majored in history and diplomacy, she became the first double amputee to compete in NCAA Division 1 track and field.
Aimee disclosed that she had never looked up the word “disability” in her 1980 version of the thesaurus. However, one day she just happened to run across it and was shocked to see some of the synonyms used to describe “disability” were crippled, useless, wrecked, maimed, wounded, counted out. Antonyms for the word were healthy, strong and capable. She had to stop reading because she felt these words were an assault on her. When she looked at a 2009 version of the thesaurus, she discovered these words had not changed significantly since the 1990 version. She pointed out that what we believe about people shows up in our use of words. What we think about people, shows up in the value we assign to these words.
Aimee talked about a doctor she knew as a little girl who described her as a strong and powerful little girl. She noted it was one of the things that shaped what she thought of herself and she was glad she had not internalized any of the other words found in the thesaurus that were so negative. She talked about the fact that our language has not caught up with society. Aimee feels that the “real and consistent disability” she has had to confront would be the world thinking that she could be described by the words she found in the thesaurus. If we look at a model of disability as something that is broken and try to figure out how we might fix it, it can be more disabling that the disability itself. Aimee warns us not to be the person who puts the first brick in the wall that will divide and label people and therefore disable them.
As service providers, it is important to recognize the power of our words and understand that they can bring intended and unintended outcomes to disabled people on our campuses. We can open doors by changing the way disability is viewed and portrayed and have an impact on the self concept of disabled students.
Check out the video at: http://www.ted.com/talks/aimee_mullins_the_opportunity_of_adversity.html
By Michael P. McManmon, Ed.D., College Internship Program
As the number of people diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorders including Asperger’s syndrome, ADD, and other learning differences explodes to nearly one in 100, it is important to address the type of support these individuals will need as they transition to college.
Most college age adults with learning differences have challenges in areas of social, organizational, and executive functioning skills. Many go off to a traditional college but aren’t successful because their school does not provide the day-to-day supports they require. Even though these bright young adults have great potential, many will return home from college, isolate themselves, and lose motivation.
The following are 10 key areas of support that can help this growing population transition successfully to college:
- Executive Functioning
College students with Asperger’s and learning differences may be overwhelmed by the typical college experience. They need to learn executive functioning skills which include planning, goal setting, and scheduling, along with strategies for residential living. Students also need to prioritize tasks and communicate more effectively. Each student should work to develop organizational and follow through strategies for his/her academic schedule. By working in small groups and using visual prompts, these young adults can learn how to carry these skills into their college classes, the workplace, and daily life.
- Individual Tutorials and Study Groups
Individual and group tutoring sessions that meet throughout the week keep students on track. These sessions should be designed to help students in specific areas where they have difficulties as well as improving basic academic skills. Students need assistance selecting college courses and professors that will best meet their needs. They may also need assistance in signing up for accommodations provided by the disabilities support center on campus.
- Social Competency
The social cognitive learning difference is the most abstract of all learning differences. Students need to interpret what others are thinking and feeling by assuming another’s perspective. Students need to learn whole body listening, social inference, and use memory to facilitate friendships. Students need to learn to interpret facial expressions and take perspective on what others are feeling. They can participate in small group sessions to discuss perspectives and practice real-life social situations. They need to work on essential skills including reciprocal conversation, body language, eye contact, and spatial awareness.
- Social Mentoring
Social Mentors are individuals who are a few years older than students and act as role models for social and problem solving skills. Research shows that role modeling by positive social mentors in real-life situations carries the highest degree of learning success. For example, practicing reciprocal conversation skills in a grocery store is much more powerful with a Social Mentor than in a classroom with a teacher. They can meet regularly with students and work to improve social understanding while participating with the students in their special interests. Mentors spend time helping students work on their social challenges while encouraging participation in real-world activities.
- Sensory Integration
Students benefit from having a holistic understanding of their sensory issues. This helps them improve attention, decrease anxiety, and increase environmental comfort. Classes or individual sessions that focus on sensory integration and the importance it has in everyday tasks provide valuable insight and help to develop coping strategies. These types of sessions include work on gross and fine motor control and help students understand the effect of the individual senses (tactile, vestibular, auditory, visual, and olfactory). Calming strategies are taught as part of the curriculum and a sensory diet, or daily activities that help calm and relax, can be established for each student.
- Internships and Community Service
Internship placement is a crucial part of the college transition experience, especially for students with learning disabilities. Students who can apply their academic and social knowledge directly in real-life workplace experiences will be successful. Teachers can help students by assessing their interests and abilities to find appropriate internships. Group meetings wherein students can openly discuss personal experiences, performance, advocacy, challenges, and what they have learned about themselves during the internship process are very beneficial for all who attend.
Community service can be a less stressful opportunity for students to learn more about themselves and what they like. Through community service, students gain a sense of accomplishment and achieve personal growth by contributing their time to help others.
A healthy lifestyle can help a person both reduce stress and elevate their level of healthy functioning. Exercise and a good diet increases energy, promotes positive social behaviors, and strengthens the immune system. It can also improve self esteem as well as perceptions of others. Starting with individual assessments, students can then focus on the areas of nutrition, hygiene, sensory diets, weight control, and physical fitness.
Reframing is a concept that helps students connect the dots between behavior and emotion. Reframing is a themed pro-social activity that aid students’ self understanding and provides daily structure to one’s life.
A gathering once a day, usually in the morning, provides a consistent schedule where students can evaluate their feelings and plan out their day. This may seem mundane, but students with Asperger’s and learning differences may crave consistency, so a daily practice strongly aids the alteration of behavioral patterns.
- Relationship Development
Students need to explore attitudes and values regarding healthy relationship development with special consideration given to issues related to learning differences. Present topics such as friendship building, communication skills, relationship dynamics, and sexuality education. Don’t assume that your student on the spectrum does not need basic instruction in common strategies such as initiating friendships and conversations, to learning how and when to be intimate.
- Individual Therapy
Many students on the spectrum need support with social, anxiety, and sensory issues. Every student arrives at college with a unique set of challenges. Most attend college without being able to ask a teacher for help, work in a group, or develop typical college friendships. Individual therapy utilizing cognitive behavior therapy is very effective in assisting students to deal with their emotions and to solve problems.
As the number of students being diagnosed with Asperger’s and learning differences increases dramatically, colleges need to develop curricula and supports that provide them with individualized services. It is of paramount importance that institutions hoping to address this increase can incorporate at least some of these concepts into their special programs for this population.
Michael McManmon has 35 years of experience with students with learning differences and Asperger’s syndrome, and he himself was diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome. He is the founder of CIP (www.collegeinternshipprogram.com), a program that eases the transition to university and independence for young adultswith learning differences.
Reprinted with permission from Independent Educational Consultants Association, www.IECAonline.com
As disability service providers, you likely collaborate with study abroad and international student offices about students with disabilities. Here are five ways you can expand your advising to encourage more students, staff and faculty with disabilities to go international.
1) Strengthen your relationship with international offices: The Campus Collaboration Booklet (Web Link: http://www.miusa.org/ncde/tools/bestpractices/cccbooklet) shares tips for cross-trainings and collaborative projects.
2) Engage students with disabilities in “global competence” and “internationalizing the campus” efforts, buzz words that most institutions are implementing through various programs. Likely these trends are happening on your campus. Useful websites:
- American Association of Community Colleges International Programs and Services (http://www.aacc.nche.edu/Resources/aaccprograms/international/Pages/default.aspx)
- American Council on Education’s Center for International Initiatives (http://www.acenet.edu/Content/NavigationMenu/ProgramsServices/cii/index.htm)
3) Participate in an international conference or seminar for disability professionals, such as the upcoming Seventh International Conference on Higher Education and Disability in Austria or closer to home, the Accessing the World through International Exchange Disability Community Seminar in Denver in July 2010. Web links: http://trac.uno.edu/conf2010, http://www.miusa.org/ncde/denver
4) Work with your admissions office to include disability services information in your institution’s promotional videos and catalogs they send to international student recruitment fairs or post on EducationUSA websites. Web link: http://educationusa.state.gov
5) Consider an international professional development fellowship opportunity, such as short-term faculty seminars or year-long research/lecturing grants, for staff in your offices and campus faculty with disabilities, or for colleagues overseas to come to your campus. Useful websites:
- Academics for Higher Education and Development: http://www.ahed-upesed.org
- International Faculty Development Seminars: http://www.ciee.org/ifds
- Fulbright Programs: http://www.miusa.org/ncde/fulbright
- Fulbright Scholar-in-Residence Program: http://fulbright.state.gov/index2/fulbright-scholar-in-residence-program-competition-opens
Bring the spirit of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities home to your campus. Think globally but act locally. For more information or other ideas on how to increase the participation of people with disabilities in international exchange, contact the U.S. Department of State-sponsored National Clearinghouse on Disability and Exchange at email@example.com, http://www.miusa.org/ncde.By Michele Scheib, Mobility International USA
Christine M. Wenzel, MA.
Assistant Director, Center for Students with Disabilities
University of Connecticut
Megan M. Krell, MA.
Graduate Assistant, Center for Students with Disabilities
Jane Thierfeld Brown, Ed.D
Director of Student Services
University of Connecticut School of Law
In 2005, a program for Students on the Autism spectrum (Strategic Education for Students with Autism Spectrum Disorders, SEAD) was piloted at the University of Minnesota (UM). Given this was a new program, hopes were high and great plans for delivering services were made by the professional staff members and Lorraine Wolf and Jane Thierfeld Brown, who served as a consultants to assist in the design and implementation of the program. Planned services included a social skills group, organizational management, stress management, assistance with residential living issues, and even pragmatic language assistance with a graduate student. This comprehensive program, coordinated by Lisa King—who had many years experience working with college students with disabilities and students on the autism spectrum—was created to respond to the unique needs of the 35 students on the spectrum registered with UM’s Disability Services. With the program solidified, the only component missing was the students…
Students came to Disability Services for their accommodation letters and to work with staff to solve individual issues, to get academic support, as well as content tutoring when available. However, students made it very clear to us that they wanted no part of the groups created or services designed to assist with their college experience. These groups were created to target the other goals that we had for students in the program—including living independently in the residence halls, and the development and maintenance of relationships with peers—but students were simply not coming. SEAD went through the first year and was successful with several areas that were targeted, such as organization and time management, but we knew there was more we could offer to help us achieve our goals; we just needed a better service delivery system.
Fast forward to the summer after the second year of the pilot at UM. Jane Thierfeld began working with Christine Wenzel at the Center for Students with Disabilities (CSD) at the University of Connecticut (UConn) to bring the SEAD program to the undergraduate campus. For some students enrolled in the SEAD program, meeting with their case manager on a weekly basis to work on specific strategies was not sufficient support. For other students, weekly support was needed; however they chose not to participate in the SEAD program. In an effort to bridge this gap and effectively reach as many students as possible, a one-credit freshman seminar (referred to at UConn as an “FYE” course) specific for working with students on the spectrum was developed. This course was modeled after the typical FYE course on campus, and included similar information such as, campus involvement, class registration, roommate resolution, time management, organizational skills, and final exam preparation. This class, however, was designed to be taught in a way more conducive to working with this population as well as to infuse social skills development throughout the curriculum. Added topics for the class include personal boundaries, formal and informal behavior, conversation skills, hygiene and wellness, campus safety, and sexuality. In order to maintain the confidentiality of students in the class, permission numbers are required in order to enroll—thus affording instructors the ability to ensure students taking the course are on the autism spectrum.
The structure of the course is such that topics build upon each other, so that students can learn the information, then must recall it later in the semester and apply it to other course topics. For example, as mentioned above, one course topic involves working with students on appropriate conversational skills both in formal and informal settings. In another class, different levels of relationships are discussed and students are asked to think about how language plays a role in defining how relationships are categorized and how, by using language, a relationship can be moved from one stage to another.
Since the one-credit course has shown to be an efficient way to engage students, Christine Wenzel and Megan Krell, Graduate Assistant at the CSD, have recently created another one-credit course focusing exclusively on social interaction and navigating the social environment of a college campus—an area known to be a great challenge for this population of students. The course is open to any UConn student on the spectrum or with social anxiety—regardless of class standing or disability documentation.
The premise behind the course was that students know what they “should” do in social settings—in fact, most of them could probably recite what they have been told word for word—but when it comes to applying these skills in real life settings, many students struggle. Each class will have an underlying social skill to sharpen, but will be presented to the class via an activity specifically designed to teach students the practical application of these skills. At the end of each class, there will be a reflection period where the activity is discussed, observations are shared (both instructor and student observations), and what students think the class was trying to demonstrate. The purpose is to provide a personal real-life experience for students to draw upon when they find themselves in a situation outside of the classroom and have to utilize that particular skill. Examples of course topics include: perspective taking, using language to relate to others, working effectively in a group, and self-awareness. The course was designed using tenets discussed in Michelle Garcia-Winner and Pamela Crooke’s book, Socially Curious and Curiously Social, 2009.
As more students with autism spectrum disorders are coming to our campus, we look forward to continuing these initiatives and creating new projects that will further enhance the college experience for our students. Please feel free to contact us with any questions at firstname.lastname@example.org, Christine.wenzel@Uconn.edu, email@example.com.
WGBH's National Center for Accessible Media and Research in Motion Enable Closed-Captioning Support for BlackBerry® Smartphones
The WGBH - Carl and Ruth Shapiro Family National Center for Accessible Media (NCAM) recently announced a new version of its popular do-it-yourself caption-authoring tool for digital media, the Media Access Generator, or MAGpie. MAGpie 2.5.0 (Windows), jointly funded by Research in Motion® and NCAM/WGBH, extends the ability of the free software to export TTXT files, which can be used to create closed-captioned videos formatted for playback on BlackBerry® smartphones. As before, authors can continue to write captions once and export them to formats compatible with QuickTime, Windows Media, RealPlayer and Flash.
The updated MAGpie software also includes an option to use MP4Box to automatically combine a TTXT file into a copy of MP4 or 3GP source videos. Captioned videos can then be loaded onto compatible BlackBerry smartphones where users can decode closed captions.
Support for closed-captioned content playback is available on BlackBerry smartphones running BlackBerry Device Software version 5.0 and newer, including the BlackBerry Storm2™ smartphone, BlackBerry Bold 9700™ smartphone and BlackBerry Curve™ 8530 smartphone models.
Revised MAGpie documentation and additional information is available now from NCAM at (http://ncam.wgbh.org).
About NCAM and WGBH
The Carl and Ruth Shapiro Family National Center for Accessible Media at WGBH is a research, development and advocacy entity that works to make existing and emerging technologies accessible to all audiences. NCAM is part of the Media Access Group at WGBH, which also includes The Caption Center (est. 1972), and Descriptive Video Service® (est. 1990). For more information, visit the Media Access Group's Web site, access.wgbh.org and follow the Media Access Group on Facebook and Twitter (AccessWGBH).
WGBH Boston is America's preeminent public broadcasting producer, the source of fully one-third of PBS's prime-time lineup, along with some of public television's best-known lifestyle shows and children's programs and many public radio favorites. Podcasts, vodcasts, iPhone apps, and more...WGBH creates content audiences use and value on the air, online, and on the go. Find more information at wgbh.org.
Media Access Group at WGBH