JUNE 2011 ALERT
Letter from the editor
In Remembrance of Lydia Block
Message from AHEAD President
Professional Development Opportunities
The DBTAC Section
The MIUSA Section
Parent Education: Nuisance or Opportunity - It’s Our Choice
Resources & Announcements
On the road to Seattle. In just a few short weeks we will all gather once again for our annual conference. To me, this yearly event is a wonderful way to enrich and inspire all of the work that we do on behalf of students with disabilities. With all of the technology around us, it is wonderful the ways that we are all able to connect throughout the year. Events like the webinar’s and audio conferences allow us educational opportunities at relatively low cost. But, in the end, there is nothing like being able to come together and collectively celebrate the work that we do and to have the opportunity to expand our knowledge through wonderful sessions and collaboration time with friends and colleagues.
The conference is a very exciting time and what amazes me every year is how many people within our organization are involved with putting it together and making it work. Thanks to the Conference Chairs, the Program Chairs, the Local Volunteers, the Program Reviewers, the Mentors, the Moderators, the AHEAD staff and anyone else whom I have left off. I am sure I am not the only member who looks forward to this every year.
I hope to see many of you at AHEAD this year in Seattle for what I am sure once again will be an amazing conference.
Emily (Singer) Lucio
With tremendous sorrow, AHEAD announces the passing of our dear friend and colleague Lydia Block. Lydia died Wednesday, June 22, 2011 in Columbus Ohio. Lydia had been a member of AHEAD for over 20 years. Owner of Block Educational Consulting and Educator at Ohio Wesleyan University, former Director of the Learning Disabilities Program at The Ohio State University from 1981-1996 where she earned her Doctorate Degree in Education with a specialty in Learning Disabilities. Lydia was an active member of AHEAD having been a frequent contributor to the Journal of Postsecondary Education and Disability (JPED) as well as a presenter at many annual conferences. Lydia was the Blosser award recipient in 1999. Lydia published numerous articles on learning disabilities topics and also served as AHEAD’s representative to the National Joint Committee on Learning Disabilities since 1990. She was extremely well respected and well known in her field and touched the lives of hundreds of students across the country. The great work she has done will continue to live on in the lives of many students and professionals. Lydia’s presence will be missed at AHEAD this summer, but her spirit will remain.
Funeral services were held in Ohio on Sunday, June 26, 2011. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to Crohn's & Colitis Foundation, National Processing Center, Attn: Honor & Memorial Gifts, PO Box 1245, Albert Lea, MN, 56007-9976 in Lydia's memory. Please visit www.rutherfordfuneralhome.com to send on-line condolences.
A gathering is being planned for Tuesday evening, July 12, at the Seattle Sheraton, so that friends and colleagues can meet to honor the memory of our friend, colleague, and mentor. More information will be available at the conference Registration desk.
The school year has ended for many schools around the country. Does this mean that disability offices can sit back and rest during the next few months? Most definitely not, what with orientation for new students, summer sessions, budgeting and planning for next school year plus reviewing information about new students registering. Notice I used the word “information” not “documentation.” I have adopted the term “reasonable documentation.” This term, to me, feels more usable especially in light of the ADA amendments which tell us to move away from burdensome demands to prove disability and to focus more on what accommodations a person will need. Just as we evaluate and determine what is a reasonable accommodation, taking into account the individual’s needs and the requirements of the environment in which the person is situated (classroom, lab, dorm, etc.), I believe that disability departments need to rethink what constitutes “reasonable documentation” and its purposes. Perhaps during a lull your office may have in the next few months, you can discuss how and what constitutes reasonable documentation for your department. Perhaps you’ll have some summer fireworks on this topic which could lead to new thinking and practices.
To continue with the summer theme, I truly do hope that many AHEAD members will be in Seattle this July. Sadly, I know that is not the case for some. Hopefully you can partake of other training opportunities available from AHEAD throughout the year. I want to highlight a first for this year’s conference. For international attendees, three area colleges have opened their doors for a tour. Those touring will see an accessible dormitory, an AT lab and a general disability resources department. A big thank you to Sheryl Burgstahler and Lyla Crawford of the DO-IT Program who arranged this unique tour for those coming to Conference from other countries.
With the ending of the funded Initiatives, the AHEAD Board asked the leaders of those initiatives to give summaries of their activities and recommendations for the new Standing Committees. Ruth Warick of the Diversity Initiative sent the following letter which I’d like to share with all of you.
March 28, 2011
Jean Ashmore, President,
Association of Higher Education and Disability
I am writing to you on behalf of the Diversity Initiative of AHEAD in response to your request for feedback related to the reorganization of initiatives and special projects of the Association. As you are aware, the Diversity Initiative is relatively young having been established in 2006. Our goals have been framed in concert with the AHEAD mission statement, whereby AHEAD:
- creates a welcoming environment for diversity and those individuals reflective of diversity
- promotes diversity within its leadership and within the profession
- engages in partnership and projects to enhance diversity
We have been pleased with progress in creating a Diversity presence at AHEAD conferences, creating the Diversity Recognition Award, developing resource materials such as a brochure, developing a framework for mentorship within AHEAD, and providing a welcoming place for thought and action on diversity within our profession, to cite a few accomplishments. We realize that this work is still very much in an embryonic stage and that much work remains to be done.
We want to express our profound thanks for having the support of AHEAD to engage in the work of diversity through the Diversity Initiative. We have felt strongly supported in our work and applaud the Board and Executive Director of AHEAD for this support.
AHEAD has defined diversity as “encompassing the variety of qualities, traits and characteristics that are inherent to humans, with a focus on the world views, communication styles, and unique ways of ‘thinking, being and doing’ of individuals within our institutions and the communities we serve.” Given this definition it makes sense to consider Internationalism within the Diversity Framework. If combined under Diversity, we would envision Internationalism as a subgroup under the Diversity framework with a specifically designated person responsible for its work. The reason for this is to ensure that Diversity, as presently constituted, and Internationalism can proceed to accomplish the work that is needed. As a result, we would also see the need for more individuals to become active and involved in the work. Given the foregoing, we would suggest that a trial period be adopted for a new structure for the Board to evaluate the effectiveness of proceeding with diversity as a broader umbrella term for a number of specific-focused activities.
If you would like further comment from us, do not hesitate to be in contact. We wish you all the best with continuing to make AHEAD a strong, diverse association that serves its members and the students that we serve.
Chair, Diversity Initiative
Our association is richer for the work done by the Diversity Initiative, JUST (Just, Usable, Sustainable, Transformative) Change, IMAG (Instructional Materials Accessibility Group) and the International Initiative. The good work of these dedicated AHEAD members will continue on and grow through the Standing Committees.
I attended a recent Employment Summit sponsored by the Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) with a focus was on employment of people with disabilities in the health care industry. It was an excellent opportunity to be reminded of the commitment AHEAD has to support career employment for disabled students. Organizations such as COSD (Career Opportunities for Students with Disabilities) www.cosdonline.org, NOND (National Organization of Nurses with Disabilities) www.nond.org, and Entry Point! (an internship program of the American Association for the Advancement of Science) http://ehrweb.aaas.org/entrypoint/index.htm all share this commitment. Representatives were there from these organizations as well as health care giants. To me, it is a heartbreaker when a student has worked hard to get a college degree, has a disability, but has no career position. I strongly believe that disability service professionals are key in fostering the pre-professional mind-set among students, promoting and facilitating engagement with campus partners for career opportunities, assisting with interview and employment strategies where disclosure and requests for accommodations may be needed, and writing a recommendation letter from time to time. I hope this is a shared mindset for you and those in your department. We can all do more, AHEAD included, in this arena.
Another long-term partner organization of AHEAD is Mobility International, and we are pleased to know that they will be represented at the upcoming AHEAD Conference in Seattle. MIUSA is continually seeking avenues to educate and share their resources on international travel/study abroad for people with disabilities. I am happy to announce that on August 11, 2011 MIUSA’s National Clearinghouse on Disability and Exchange will hold a one-day workshop in Chicago entitled Linking Knowledge: A Disability Services and International Education Workshop. For more information go to http://www.miusa.org/ncde/ncdenews/chicago/.
All the best as you move from spring to summer. I look forward to seeing many of you in Seattle. As always, please do write to me at email@example.com if there is something association-related on your mind.
President AHEAD Board of Directors
AHEAD is excited to announce that a Certificate in Inclusive Design will be available at the 2011 AHEAD Conference in Seattle. In keeping with the mission of the Association which promotes educational and societal environments that value disability and embody equality of opportunity, this certificate is designed to offer AHEAD members the opportunity to engage in critical thinking about inclusive, usable, and sustainable environments and promote inclusive (universal) design approaches.
By participating in specific sessions, conference participants will have the opportunity to document significant exposure to inclusive design practices, principles and strategies. Each of the sessions selected for inclusion in this certificate program includes a strong foundation in social justice, diversity and full participation of disabled individuals. Many of the selected sessions also incorporate research and concepts from disability studies and the Disability Rights Movement.
In order to qualify for the Certificate, conference participants must attend a minimum of 15 hours of the selected sessions. Information on how to document your attendance and apply for the Certificate will be available at the registration tables in Seattle.
The Inclusive Design Certificate program is sponsored by the AHEAD JUST Change Initiative. Since 2001, through numerous conference sessions, publications and professional development activities, the Initiative has endeavored to be a guiding influence to AHEAD in valuing well-designed environments and the disability experience. As the Initiative ends its formal role as a sanctioned AHEAD entity, its members are pleased to see their work represented in many aspects of the Association, including AHEAD’s mission and values statements, strategic plan and conference sessions. We hope you’ll expand your understanding of concepts that stem from disability studies and the Disability Rights Movement by attending sessions that advance inclusive design principles. Eligible sessions for the Certificate in Inclusive Design include:
Please visit the preconference and concurrent listings at http://www.ahead.org/conferences/2011 or the Program Book onsite for full descriptions.
Civil Rights and Disability Legislation
#2.4 Disability Services: Gate Keeper or Door Opener
Creative Partnerships to Promote Sustainable Access
#3.10 Creating and Sustaining a Campus-wide Approach to Student Mental Health
#7.10 Advancing Access for Everyone: A Strategic Planning Process in Support of the Social Justice Model
Expanding Campus Partnerships: Emerging Student Populations and Transition
#3.8 Dynamics of Disability Identity Within the Student Veteran Community
International Perspectives and Partnerships
#1.3 UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities and other International Updates
Partnering to Implement Universal Design Across Campus
#1.9 Universal Design in Student Affairs: Engagement & Retention
#2.9 Shifting the Paradigm: Agents of Change in the Campus Community
#3.9 From Marginalization to Prominence: Exploring One University’s Successes with Disability and Design
#4.9 Collaborative Consultation with Faculty to Promote UDL: Supporting Learning Success
#5.9 Partnering for Success in Colleges/Universities: A Grass Roots Approach to Infusing UDL
#7.9 Project LINC: A Partnership for Inclusive Foreign Language Learning
#8.9 Partnering to Institutionalize Best Practices: A Panel of Perspectives
#9.9 Improving Course Accessibility: Universal Design Faculty Learning Community
Partnering to Promote Diversity
#3.2 Courageous Conversations
#4.2 Simulations No More! Ways to Incorporate Disability into a Diverse University Experience
#8.2 A Strategy to Develop Allies and Create Diversity
Partnering with Disability Studies
#1.7 Why Disability Studies Matters
#5.7 Partnering with Faculty to Infuse Disability Studies into the General Curriculum
#6.12 International perspective on Disability Studies: Overview and History of Interlinking Popular, Academic, and Service Movements
#7.7 Introduction to Disability Studies Programs
Sustainable Access through Best Practices in Disability Services
#2.6 Documentation Gone Green: Operating the DS Office with Nominal Need for Documentation
#3.6 Leadership Lessons Learned in Building and Sustaining Momentum for Change
#5.6 Promoting Disability and Social Justice: Campus Initiatives that Inspire Social Change
#7.6 Conversation and Collaboration: Faculty and Disability Services Partnerships
Sustainable Access through Technology
#2.11 Technology Accessibility: Transforming our Institutions with New Guidance and New Perspectives
Ahead of the ADA Access Curve: Part 6
DOJ’s new ADA requirements: Six common myths and mistakes
This is the sixth in a series of articles, “AHEAD of the ADA Access Curve,” to assist disability service providers, ADA Coordinators, and others in promoting compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, section 504, and the Fair Housing Act. This series approaches physical access and other issues as key to the civil rights of individuals with disabilities. It is intended to provide some helpful tools in a time of shifting requirements and shrinking resources.
Colleges and universities are now implementing the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) updated ADA regulations, which became effective for most purposes about three months ago, on March 15, 2011. (The new accessibility standards become binding a year later.) Many of the provisions are relatively straightforward. But some are the source of confusion or misunderstanding. This article takes a look at six myths or mistakes that I’ve noticed when discussing the new regulations with colleges and universities, and sets out the “real deal” (to the extent that DOJ has made it clear) as to each one. The next Alert article will address six more myths and mistakes.
Myth number 1: Students no longer have the right to have comfort animals such as cats in the residence halls
Facts: It is true that the 2010 regulation says that only dogs are considered service animals, and that comfort animals are not included within the definition of service animal under the ADA.
But the Fair Housing Act and section 504 also apply to residence halls. These laws are implemented by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and, for higher education, the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR). Both agencies have said that emotional support animals, or comfort animals, are to be allowed, as appropriate, as a reasonable accommodation or reasonable modification in residence halls and that the college or university can ask for documentation from a professional about the disability-related need for the animal. This category of animals is not necessarily limited to dogs.
Myth number 2: A person who has a dog that assists with PTSD or another psychiatric disability doesn’t have the right to bring it on campus, because it’s a comfort animal.
Facts: The DOJ regulation includes in the definition of service animal a dog that is “individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability.” Disabilities can include those that are psychiatric, intellectual, or other disabilities. “Work or tasks” can include providing non-violent protection or rescue work and helping persons with psychiatric and neurological disabilities by preventing or interrupting impulsive or destructive behaviors. DOJ considers a dog that has been trained to calm a person with PTSD when he or she has an anxiety attack to be a service animal. A dog that is trained to recognize that a person is about to have a psychiatric episode and is trained to respond (by, for example, nudging, barking, or removing the individual to a safe location until the episode subsides) is also a service animal. These are distinguished from those animals that provide solely emotional support, well-being, comfort, or companionship. The latter are not service animals within the ADA’s definition.
Myth number 3: Our college has to allow a miniature horse as an accommodation in a residence hall.
Facts: DOJ’s regulation says that miniature horses are to be allowed as a reasonable modification if the miniature horse is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for a person with a disability, and that certain “assessment factors” are to be considered when determining whether doing so is “reasonable.” They take into account the type of facility, safety considerations, whether the miniature horse is housebroken, etc. While there has been no specific guidance from DOJ about residence halls, DOJ representatives have noted that miniature horses cannot live indoors; they cannot survive without spending a significant amount of time outside. Because the college or university is not responsible for care or control of such an animal, it follows that in most instances it is not feasible for a miniature horse to be allowed as an accommodation in a residence hall.
Myth number 4: There are new requirements for websites and electronic devices such as Kindles.
Facts: When DOJ issued the final regulations in July 2010, it also published an “advance notice of proposed rulemaking” announcing that it was considering revising the ADA regulations to establish specific requirements for accessible websites. DOJ and the Department of Education have also reminded colleges and universities that when they require the use of technology such as electronic readers, they must ensure that those devices are accessible to people with disabilities. But no specific standards have yet been proposed for the web or other technology under the ADA. On the other hand, the requirements for accessibility in these areas are not really “new.” Rather, they involve specific applications of the principles set out in the ADA, as to technology that was not available -- and therefore not specifically addressed -- when the original regulations were issued.
Myth number 5: Complaints that DOJ receives about colleges and universities are automatically referred to OCR at the Department of Education.
Facts: Under the prior regulations, this was generally true, if the complaint was against a public (state or local) college or university. Under the new regulation, DOJ has the discretion to retain a complaint for investigation or to conduct a joint investigation with the Department of Education. Complaints against private colleges or universities can, as before, be retained by DOJ, which has the sole authority for investigations under title III, or be referred to OCR for investigation under section 504.
Myth number 6: As long our college or university has a barrier removal plan or transition plan that we developed under the 1991/1994 regulations, we are in compliance with the new requirements too.
Facts: One of a college or university’s priorities during the transition to the “compliance date” of March 15, 2012, should be to determine whether its existing facilities need changes to bring them into compliance with the new standards for purposes of program accessibility or barrier removal. While the 2010 regulations don’t specifically require new or updated barrier removal plans or transition plans, DOJ has pointed out in presentations and trainings that it will be very difficult to meet this objective without a plan.
For example, there are now standards for recreation facilities that were previously not addressed, such as exercise facilities, swimming pools, and golf courses. Each institution covered by title II should determine how many of its recreation facilities need to be accessible in order to ensure that its programs as a whole are accessible. If a facility needs to be accessible for program accessibility purposes, it should be brought up to the Standards by the 2012 compliance date – a task that would be difficult to achieve without a self-evaluation and transition plan addressing those areas. A similar assessment would be beneficial under title III’s barrier removal provisions. A transition plan or barrier removal plan ideally would set out what steps will be taken before March 15, 2012, as well as those that cannot be carried out by that date, the reason that they cannot be (e.g., undue financial burden), and the steps that will be taken apart from those changes, or at a later date, to achieve program accessibility.
While the new DOJ regulations don’t change everything, they do require some changes to policies and, most likely, to your facilities. If you haven’t started to implement the new policies and to educate others about the changes that may be needed to facilities, start now. These facts should help you understand the requirements, and you can find details at DOJ’s website, www.ada.gov.
This series of articles is provided as a member service by Irene Bowen, J.D., with ADA One, LLC. Until August 2008, Irene was Deputy Chief of DOJ’s Disability Rights Section. She is also former Deputy General Counsel of the Access Board. ADA One provides consulting, training, and alternative dispute resolution services related to the Americans with Disabilities Act and similar laws. You can contact Irene at IreneBowen@ADA-One.com or by phone at 301 879 4542. Her web site is http://ADA-One.com.
The content in this article is for informational purposes only. It is not and shall not be deemed to be legal advice or a legal opinion. You cannot rely on the content as applicable to a particular circumstance or fact pattern. If you need legal advice about a particular issue and particular facts, you should seek professional legal advice.
Office of Civil Rights Releases Additional Guidance Regarding Emerging Technology
Kelly Hermann, Chair, AHEAD Standing Committee for Public Policy
On Thursday, May 26, the US Department of Education released an FAQ document related to the use and accessibility of emerging technology in educational institutions. This document is a follow-up to the Dear Colleague letter (DCL) sent to all college and university presidents in June 2010 regarding the use of emerging technology, particularly e-book readers such as the Kindle, and the accessibility of such technology to students who are blind. The new document clarifies the scope of the DCL, provides key definitions and specifies the department’s intent regarding what technology the letter does and does not apply to.
One of the early clarifications is that the letter does not intend to prohibit the use of emerging technology in educational environments. Throughout the FAQ document, the department states and uses explicit examples to demonstrate how new technology can be utilized in college and university classrooms to allow students to “acquire the same information, engage in the same interactions, and enjoy the same services as sighted students” with “substantially equivalent ease of use.” The department also specifically recognizes that innovations in technology have the opportunity to improve the educational experiences of all students, especially those with disabilities.
In regards to e-book readers and alternative print media, the department has provided examples within the FAQ document to clarify its position regarding the provision of traditional alternative media. In question 12, the department indicates that traditional media is still a viable accommodation however, “the alternative media must provide access to the benefits of technology in an equally effective and equally integrated manner” as the new technology used. This means that campuses cannot rely on their traditional alternative media provision alone; each case must be determined on a case by case basis based on what technology the campus is using. As an example, the department cites the use of electronic book readers in a library setting that are not accessible. As an alternative, the college purchased tablet computers with additional accessibility features to provide to students with disabilities. The department has indicated that this is an appropriate accommodation whereas providing a person to read the inaccessible material to the student would not be.
The department also clarified that the letter is intended to apply to use of educational technology beyond the use of e-book readers, stating, “all school programs or activities – whether in a ‘brick and mortar,’ online, or other ‘virtual’ context – must be operated in a manner that complies with Federal disability discrimination laws.” The FAQs also directly state that any pilot programs involving new technology must also be accessible to students with disabilities. The department has clearly indicated that it is expecting colleges and universities to plan for accessibility during all phases of introducing new technology on campus, from initial consideration through piloting and implementation.
Disability services’ providers may want to develop an informational summary of the guidelines for faculty, staff and administration on their campuses, particularly for those faculty members experimenting with new web tools in online, blended or seated courses. As the department indicates in the FAQ document, professional development for faculty and staff around the issues of emerging technology and accessibility may be needed. The full text of the FAQ document can be found on the department’s website: http://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/docs/dcl-ebook-faq-201105.html
University of Colorado at Boulder's Office of Diversity (ODECE) presents our 14th 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.
November 14-18, 2011
Once again, we'll be at the Westin hotel in Westminster, located 15 minutes from the CU campus in Boulder, Colorado.
In Collaboration with AHEAD, EASI and ATHEN. For registration info and conference details, visit: www.colorado.edu/ATconference
Linking Knowledge: A Disability Services and International Education Workshop
A workshop designed to bridge understanding between higher education professionals in disability and counseling services and in study abroad and international student services to most effectively work with students with disabilities in international educational exchanges.
Thursday, August 11, 2011
8:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.
Chicago Cultural Center
78 East Washington Street
$20 per person or $30 for two**
Fee waivers available based on need
**It pays to collaborate!
If you work in international education, bring a disability or counseling services colleague; if you work in disability or counseling services, bring an international education colleague and pay just $30 for both.
Registration is now open! Visit: www.miusa.org/ncde/ncdenews/chicago
For questions, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Wheelchair accessible. Disability-related accommodations such as ASL interpreters and
alternative formats provided upon request.
Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs of the U.S. Department of State
Mobility International USA (MIUSA)
ILLOWA Association of Higher Education and Disability (AHEAD)
International Educators of Illinois (IEI)
The Arizona Post Secondary Access Coalition (AzPAC) partnered with the Arizona Commission for the Deaf & Hard of Hearing and the Postsecondary Education Programs Network (PEPNet) this spring to present a one day workshop titled “Accommodating Students who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing”. We had approximately 40 participants from across the state of Arizona. The event was a huge success in networking the three agencies and we have committed to put on another workshop in the near future.
The California Association for Postsecondary Education and Disability (CAPED) has continued its usual activities. We had an officers meeting in January and an Executive Board meeting in March in Riverside, at the hotel site for our annual conference coming up in October. The conference committee is in full force, and we have just sent out our call for proposals for the conference. The conference will have two pre-conference days October 15-16, and the full conference is on October 17-19 at the Riverside Marriott hotel. More info is on our website at: http://www.caped.net/convention/index.html.
We have hired a part-time consultant to help us advocate to restore funding that has been cut from the three systems of postsecondary education in the state, but most particularly a 40%+ cut in funding for disability services in the community colleges. Our advocacy efforts are ongoing. Also, some of our CAPED Interest Groups (CIG’s) held their northern and southern region meetings/trainings during April and May.
C-AHEAD (District of Columbia)
C-AHEAD, representing the MD/DC/Northern VA areas held a conference on June 3, entitled "Trends and Challenges Facing Disability Support Providers Today". It included workshops about: Students on the Autism Spectrum, Transitions to Employment, Veterans with Disabilities, Self-Advocacy in College, Assistive Technology in College & Employment, and Vocational Rehab. We also had a speaker on the new regs from ADA.
In March we had a panel discussion with the Vocational Rehab representatives from our 3 states, discussing their intake procedures and how they can help college students.
We also updated our bylaws this year, to clarify types of memberships and duties of board positions. We are looking for 3 new At-Large positions for 2011-12.
MI AHEAD (Michigan)
Michigan AHEAD (MI-AHEAD) has had another productive and busy year. We continue to have monthly membership meetings with about 30 members present at each meeting. An important part of the agenda is what we call roundtable. Each person present has the opportunity to raise an issue at their location and members offer suggestions to assist. Michigan Rehabilitation Services, Michigan’s state vocational rehabilitation agency, is joining us now and developing partnerships with the local colleges.
MI-AHEAD has identified Transition from High School to College as a priority of the organization. We have a workgroup developing under the leadership of David VanDoorne from Hope College. They have already developed a list of what students with disabilities should know when they begin college. Members of the workgroup also presented to a regional meeting of High School transition coordinators to build a better partnership.
In October, 2010 MI-AHEAD had a Fall Conference. The topic was Project ShIFT. This is “Shaping Inclusion Through Foundational Transformation”. This is a three year grant from the U.S. Department of Education. It is a philosophy and context for serving students with disabilities in college. Adam Meyer from Eastern Michigan University and Randall Ward from Lake Michigan College were the presenters. Both are members of the grant. Adam presented at the 2010 AHEAD Conference and will be presenting to the 2011 AHEAD Conference.
MI-AHEAD is also having our annual Spring Conference May 19 and 20. Our keynote speaker is Richard Bernstein. Richard is a lawyer who has a wealth of experience and knowledge as a lawyer who is also blind. He is a disability advocate who will share his experiences and thoughts. Richard is a Governor at Wayne State University, which is the highest elective office of any blind individual in Michigan. Other sessions in the afternoon will include Project ShIFT, Transition, and technology. We will also have a newcomers session for those who are new to our profession.
NC AHEAD (North Carolina)
The North Carolina Affiliate had an outstanding Spring conference at High Point University in High Point, NC, and will be holding a Fall conference at Appalachian State University in Boone, NC. We would also like to announce that we were able to provide two partial scholarships to our members for the national conference.
New England AHEAD
I wanted to write about our amazing conference earlier this week. New England AHEAD partnered with DCDT, Northeastern and Suffolk Universities to offer a conference entitled, “Moving Forward: Access and Success for Students in Postsecondary Education.” We had over 160 disability coordinators, high school transition specialists, special education teachers, faculty and parents attend. Dr. Neeta Fogg gave a presentation on her longitudinal student of students with disabilities transitioning to postsecondary education. Dr. Joe Madaus followed her discussing the transition gap for college students with disabilities. We ended the day by sharing information across the high school and college school systems, in an effort to increase knowledge of what the other side does. It was a huge success!
I’d also like to let you know that New England AHEAD has new leadership. I am serving as the president. Judy Shanley, a Senior Training and Technical Assistance Associate at Education Development Center (EDC), is the secretary and Jan Anderson, the Associate Director of the Disability Resource Center (DRC) at Northeastern University, is the treasurer. We will be working with the organization to host two more conferences this fall, as well as to up-date the website.
AHEAD NR (Montana)
AHEAD NR held its SPRING CONFERENCE and ANNUAL MEETING on Thursday, May 26, 2011 at the University of Montana. The conference agenda included a “show and tell” assistive technology discussion on Victor Reader Stream, Video Captioning, and Smart Pens by Live Scribe. A presentation on veteran issues included information from Brenda York, Director of Disability, Re-Entry and Veteran Services at Montana State University and Mary Lee Vance, Ph. D., Director of Disability Services at the University of Montana regarding their upcoming presentations at AHEAD. Eric F. Kettenring, Team Leader at the Missoula Vet Center, concluded the presentation on veteran issues. An open session included a discussion about service animal policies.
UT AHEAD (UTAH)
The Utah affiliate elected a new president at our 2010 fall conference. We have spent time collecting membership renewals and getting our members excited to participate for another year with us. During the month of March, the affiliate’s spring conference was an ADA Symposium sponsored by the state government, where we learned about valuable applications of the ADA amendments to higher education and employment. We are currently in the initial stages of planning for our fall conference.
Disability Studies Matters
Sue Kroeger, University of Arizona
I have just returned from the annual meeting of the Society for Disability Studies, and once again am reminded why this discipline is so important and of the continuing gap between studies and services. Alongside the political movement which has scored significant victories, disability studies sets the pace for developing new representations of disability.
This relatively new area of academic inquiry, reframes the analysis of disability by focusing on it as a social construct and on the conditions that produce disability: the social, political, economic, medical, and legal systems that create barriers for disabled people. This shift in thinking is profound and not easy in light of how deeply disabled and nondisabled people have been socialized to think of disability.
Society’s view of disability is pervasive and consistent across language, media, educational courses and programs, human services, and environmental design. It clearly locates the problem within the individual and sees this problem stemming from physical, sensory, or cognitive limitations.
Disability activists and scholars continue to reject this view and have developed a conceptualization that locates the problem of disability primarily within society. They proclaim that it is not individual limitations or biological differences that are the cause of the problem, but society’s failure to value and appreciate difference and design environments that are welcoming and inclusive.
Unfortunately, the disability service industry, i.e. special education, rehabilitation counseling, disability services in higher education, generally has not engaged in any consistent and meaningful way with Disability Studies. Indeed, it is the service industry and we; the professional service providers that help maintain the very frame that scholars and activists are working so hard to change.
Operating within a legal narrative and a deficit frame of disability, most DS offices are unaware of the underlying negative messages about disability that they send. This is confirmed for me in talking with colleagues, attending national conferences, and perusing websites. It is my suspicion that most service providers have not taken the time to identify the values and beliefs they have about disability and how those values and beliefs guide their work. Moreover, individuals working in the service professions have little background that would provide them the opportunity to frame disability in new ways.
Because we typically and mostly without thinking, frame disability as abnormal, negative and an individual problem, then it follows that our response to it would be reactive rather than proactive. In other words we accommodate disability. While this is an improvement over institutionalization, sterilization, and euthanasia, accommodations as a comprehensive response maintains the notion that access is a disabled individual’s problem to solve. On most college and university campuses, disabled students spend an inordinate amount of time becoming eligible for and requesting accommodations. Additionally, they are asked to perform a number of tasks to both schedule and receive accommodations. The academic experience for disabled students is clearly different from their nondisabled peers.
Reframing disability and applying this new frame is a great challenge. The field of Disability Studies provides us with the scholarship, but it is we, the professionals that must find ways to apply it. That will require us to think and act differently, both personally and in our professional practices. While we may not be able to mandate large systemic change, we can initiate small steps. Over time, these small, but necessary changes will contribute to a new and more progressive disability frame.
Disability service providers in higher education are integral to a shift in thinking about and responding to disability. We are viewed by the campus community as experts in everything disability; we intersect with every corner of our campuses and have tremendous opportunities to influence faculty and administrators.
The great challenge we all face regarding diversity, and specifically disability, is to eliminate exclusion, oppression, and discrimination that continue to be everywhere, as a result of systemic power and privilege. We need to think about this problem in new and different ways, see ourselves as part of the solution, and appreciate that our campuses are ideal places to model real change.
Promoting new ways of “thinking and doing” relative to people with disabilities requires us to ask ourselves and others:
How do we frame disability?
- What are the professional assumptions that guide our work?
- Where do we locate issues and problems?
- How do our systems and structures privilege some over others?
- How do we perpetuate these patterns?
These are all key components in developing the necessary critical voice to change the way we think and behave, design our environments, and practice our professions.
What more important work is there then helping our campuses to value and appreciate those communities that have been marginalized and design humane and life-enhancing environments that clearly demonstrate that all people matter.
The ADA, Information Technology and Students with Disabilities
Submitted by the DBTAC: Southeast ADA Center
on behalf of the ADA National Network by DBTAC
Information technology (IT) is expanding exponentially. Unfortunately, along with the wealth of new devices and IT products may come unintended but all-too-real barriers for students with disabilities. In his testimony before the Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties Committee on the Judiciary in the House of Representatives, Samuel R. Bagenstos, Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights stated: “Access to the Internet and emerging technologies is not simply a technical matter, but a fundamental issue of civil rights. As more and more of our social infrastructure is made available on the internet - in some cases, exclusively online - access to information and electronic technologies is increasingly becoming the gateway civil rights issue for individuals with disabilities.” (Source: www.justice.gov/ola/testimony/111-2/2010-04-22-crt-bagenstos-tech.pdf).
For example, Amazon’s May 2009 release of its Kindle DX caused unanticipated barriers for many students with disabilities.. Arizona State University (ASU), Case Western Reserve University, Princeton University, Reed College, Pace University, and Darden School of Business at the University of Virginia agreed to participate in a trial program where students would be given discounted or free Kindles for educational purposes. Shortly afterward, the National Federation of the Blind (NFB) and the American Council of the Blind (ACB) along with an ASU journalism student with a visual impairment filed a lawsuit against ASU alleging that the Kindle DX’s inability to be accessible to blind students constituted a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
The Kindle DX features text-to-speech technology that can read textbooks aloud to students who are blind or have low vision. However, the device’s menus were not accessible to students with visual impairments, making it impossible for a blind user to purchase books from Amazon's Kindle store, select a book to read, activate the text-to-speech feature, and use the advanced reading functions available on the Kindle DX. As a result, several other universities that had considered participating similar pilot programs, including Brigham Young University, University of Wisconsin-Madison and Syracuse University, either dropped them or put them on hold.
In January 2010, the U.S. Department of Justice announced settlement agreements with four of the universities involved where the universities agreed not to purchase, recommend, or promote use of the Kindle DX, or any other dedicated electronic book reader, unless or until the devices became fully accessible to students who are blind and visually impaired. (Source: www.ada.gov/arizona_state_university.htm) In response, in July 2010, Amazon unveiled an accessible Kindle with a voice guide that could read through all menu options aloud so that persons who are blind and other persons with print disabilities can navigate the device menus.
AccessIT promotes the use of electronic and information technology (E&IT) for students and employees with disabilities in educational institutions at all academic levels. This Web site features the AccessIT Knowledge Base, a searchable database of questions and answers regarding accessible E&IT. It is designed for educators, policy makers, librarians, technical support staff, and students and employees with disabilities and their advocates. In addition, the site offers a free Web Design Curriculum that stresses standards-based and accessible design and is vendor-neutral. It also has an Information Technology Education Accessiblity Checklist and an Accessible University Mock Site for use in demonstrating web accessibility principles in presentations and includes a Companion Guide tutorial what presents Web Accessibility problems and solutions using Web pages as examples.
Georgia Tech Research on Accessible Distance Education (GRADE)
The Georgia Tech Research on Accessible Distance Education (GRADE) offers Guidelines for Accessible Distance Education: Principles and practices for the improving the access and use of common non-html elements in distance education, such as Microsoft Office, Adobe and video files as well as an Access e-learning Tutorial: free, 10-module tutorial on the creation of accessible and usable distance education materials; Course Design Models: real-world courses designed for accessibility; invaluable as "how-to" examples; and Fact Sheets: easy-to-use information briefs on essential points of accessible design.
Accessibility Initiatives of Educational Institutions in the United States
The US Access Board provides a listing of the web accessibility initiatives of educational institutions throughout the United States. The site offers the ability to:
- Learn about the web accessibility initiatives of educational institutions
- Join in collaboration and knowledge transfer amongst peers
- See different ways to provide tools and training for students and staff
- Add your institution's 508-related program for inclusion on this site.
Web Accessibility in Mind (WebAIM)
WebAIM's provides the knowledge, technical skills, tools, organizational leadership strategies, and vision that empower organizations to make their own content accessible to people with disabilities.
For More Information:
You may contact the Regional ADA National Network Center that serves your area by calling 1-800-949-4232 (voice/tty). All offices are open Monday through Friday. All calls are confidential. You may also learn more about your regional center by visiting the National ADA Network’s website at www.adata.org.
Going Above and Beyond to Go Down Under
By Lauren Presutti
Submitted by the National Clearinghouse on Disability and Exchange
Lauren Presutti is a freshman Honors student at Central Michigan University (CMU). In addition to her high academic achievement and community involvement, she has set out to achieve a personal goal to travel internationally, which she will do this June and July as a participant on a study abroad program in Perth, Australia. Lauren, who has muscular dystrophy and uses a power wheelchair for mobility, explains what kinds of accommodations were arranged.
As a freshman college student, planning an international journey halfway around the world was the furthest thing from what I’ve ever expected to be doing. This summer through June and July, I will participate in an international program called Wanju Boodjah: Aboriginal Studies, which will take me to the coast of Western Australia. During this short-term program, I will immerse myself in the local culture and environment through excursions to culturally-significant sites, such as the Bungle Bungle range and the Karri forests. As a Sociology major, I chose this specific study abroad program because I want to learn about other people in order to gain a better understanding and appreciation for the world today.
While most students are concerned about the language, food and other cultural differences, those were the least of my worries. My main priority is to guarantee myself mobility around the area once I arrive and ensure that everything, including the flight, transportation, housing and program excursions, will all be planned carefully for me.
Having the support of CMU staff and faculty was instrumental in my decision to go abroad in the first place. In early October, my Honors director devoted an entire two-hour class period to the importance of studying abroad, something that I had never given serious thought to because I knew an opportunity like this would be a very long, challenging process for me. He acknowledged that there would be accommodation issues for me that would need careful consideration, but insisted that this kind of experience would be life-transformative for me.
Shortly after, I decided to apply for an international experience. It has since been a very involved process to finalize my plans and ensure that this opportunity will be accessible, affordable, and rewarding for me. To prepare, I have done extensive research on my own, as well as with coordinators of this program to arrange the accommodations that are needed for me. As with all new adventures, it has been interesting to work through this process together with them, and it has been a new learning experience for everyone. I've been impressed with their support and ability to make arrangements for me, such as reserving an accessible apartment and giving me essential information that allows me to plan accordingly.
Because of the physical challenges in my life, I would have to arrange for physical assistance through every step of this journey. Two people would be needed to transfer me in and out of my chair in the safest, easiest way throughout the flights, excursions, and other adventures this trip entails. In addition to that, I certainly did not want to arrive somewhere and learn that my room is up a few flights of stairs, that there are no elevators to places that I am required to be, or that there is no wheelchair accessible transportation.
Through my involvement with the Muscular Dystrophy Association, I am lucky to know two people who expressed interest in acting as personal assistants to me this summer and volunteering their time to travel with me. With their prior experience assisting me and their willingness to be flexible with all of the unexpected challenges we may encounter on this trip, I feel very fortunate and comfortable with both of them.
There are other aspects of this trip that will require us to be flexible. This includes a 30-plus hour flight that will be difficult for me to endure in a standard plane seat. For program trips around Australia, we will be taking a small, manual wheelchair that is foldable and easily transferable to carry onto a group bus, which is not wheelchair accessible. This means that I will need to be carried onto this bus and pushed in this chair during these field excursions. It’s not ideal, but I’m willing to be flexible.
My costs greatly exceed that of any other student, given the accommodations that I need. For example, although I will be traveling with two extra people who are volunteering to assist me, I am planning to cover most of their expenses. I have had a lot of success in reaching out to others for academic scholarships and grants, which cover the majority of my total expenses, and my parents are generously supporting me in the remaining costs not covered by financial aid. As a Centralis Scholar Award recipient, I used a portion of my full-ride academic scholarship toward my international experience. In addition, I was one of seven students who earned an Honors scholarship that is specifically for studying abroad, and I also received a scholarship within the Study Abroad office at CMU. I also applied for additional scholarships through the Foundation for Global Scholars and another through Murdoch University, the Australian institution where I will study.
I also spent many hours searching for disability scholarships or grants that could apply toward study abroad and I received a grant through the Curtiss-Waldo Fund, which was started by a CMU alumnus. The disability services office at CMU has previously used it to fund needed things for students with various types of disabilities, such as funding for hearing aids, wheelchair replacement tires and batteries for wheelchairs. In my case, I earned this grant to apply these funds toward my two attendants’ travel costs.
Despite the challenges, I have continued to achieve what it is that I set out to do. I am grateful for all of the support that I have received, and I am thankful that I have been successful in the process thus far. Knowing how difficult this experience may be, I am still very committed to it and I fully intend to take advantage of my time abroad. I hope to be a positive influence for other people and prove that everyone, regardless of ability, is capable of overcoming obstacles and reaching their goals.
When I return from Australia, I hope to share my story with others and encourage more students with disabilities to pursue international opportunities like this.
Has a student with a disability approached your office about study abroad? Contact the National Clearinghouse on Disability and Exchange (NCDE) for free referrals, outreach materials, tipsheets, and more, or share your best practices. Email: email@example.com, Tel/TTY: 541-343-1284, Web: http://www.miusa.org/ncde. Find resources specifically helpful to disability services professionals in the AWAY Topics: Disability and Higher Education Abroad issue at http://www.miusa.org/publications/books/awaytopics3. The NCDE is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State and administered by Mobility International USA to provide free information and referral on people with disabilities inclusion in international exchange opportunities.
By Martha Bledsoe and Kay Kimball Gruder
Top Three Things You Would Like to See Parents Do
- Realize there is a big difference between high school and college
- Listen more than offer advice
- Parent differently and be appropriate
Spring is truly a season of change. We have first year students who are finally settled in and a new crop soon to join us. During this time of transition it is inevitable that parent questions arise, as do countless opportunities to educate them about their role.
My experience with parents, like many of you, has run the full gambit. I encounter a range of parents, some who are very appropriate and others who are scary and ask odd questions like, “Will you go and wake my son/daughter up in the morning?”
Usually the parent session for students with disabilities is scheduled smack dab in the middle of Parent Orientation, which is sandwiched between public safety and “dining dollars” sessions, but their mind is really on running to Target for sheets. “Yah, we really have their attention now, don’t we?” I call this the Shotgun Approach to parent education -- and usually it calls for some mopping up later in the semester. But let me say, I have found a better way.
Now I see educating parents as an opportunity. I have teamed with Kay Kimball Gruder, a certified parent coach and founder of SuccessfulCollegeParenting.com to provide education for parents in a 3-part webinar format which we designed this past year. We recently presented our model at ACPA’s national convention in Baltimore and we are bringing a pre-conference institute to AHEAD this July in Seattle.
What Kay and I have learned is that if we want parents to guide students in specific ways, then we have to take some responsibility in educating them in how best to support their student during the college years.
In turn, what I have learned (the hard way, but mainly because I was so resistant to change) is that parents are an underutilized resource. They can be an effective and reliable advocate when educated about how to parent without denying their student opportunities for growth and independence. Research shows that the majority of students first go their parents for advice.
Additionally, webinars are a savvy and cool way to deliver the parent education message. Parents may start out feeling reluctant to try a tech-driven approach to learning, but they easily get the hang of it and feel very hip.
Timing your webinars is another consideration (I do suggest more than one). We have found it makes sense to offer topics slightly before the "stress points" of the semester. This provides an extra layer of support for the student during the freshman year when students are vulnerable navigating a new environment. The first webinar in our series is actually offered to parents in late-June!
Kay and I will be providing a pre-conference institute at the AHEAD conference in Seattle. Participants will learn about our model, but the majority of the session will be an opportunity for you to design your parent education program. We will guide you through considerations for content development, delivery options, group discussions, and overall design. Your final product will be a foundation upon which you can continue to build a parent education program that can positively impact your students as they transition into college.
Now that is change we can live with.
Please join us Tuesday, July 12, 9:00-12:30, #PC 8 Creating a Parent Education & Involvement Program from Design to Reality.
New Resource on Postsecondary Education and Students with Disabilities
Even though the majority of high school students with disabilities identify participation in postsecondary education as a goal for their adult lives, only about 3 in 10 have taken classes since completing high school (National Longitudinal Transition Study-2). And among those with the lowest rates of participation are students with intellectual disabilities. A new publication, Impact: Feature Issue on Postsecondary Education and Students with Intellectual, Developmental and Other Disabilities, explores what we know, and what we still need to know, about supporting increased participation of students with disabilities – especially those with intellectual disabilities – in postsecondary education, and why that participation is important. Impact is published by the Institute on Community Integration, a federally-designated University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities at the University of Minnesota. The new issue is available for free on the Web at http://ici.umn.edu/products/impact/233. Print copies are also available (first copy free, each additional $4) by contacting the Institute's Publications Office at 612-624-4512 or firstname.lastname@example.org.