Accessibility Resource Center

Spring 2023 AHEAD Webinar Series

Accessibility Resource Center is excited to present another series of engaging, thought-provoking webinars offered through the Association on Higher Education and Disability (AHEAD).

The Spring 2023 Webinar Series was created to address current issues that face all institution types. Some sessions will address early career guidance. Other sessions were designed to provide deeper responses to recurring questions that arise on the AHEAD Community discussion boards and to address ongoing desires for trainings that connect disability identities to other intersectional identities and experiences. Content experts on particular disability types will offer insight on how professionals at any level can improve institutional responses to particular student needs.

Session information, dates, and live webinar IDs and passcodes (case sensitive) are provided below. Once available, presentation materials and session recordings will be added.

All webinars are hosted by AHEAD in the Zoom webinar platform and have real time captioning available. ASL interpreters are also provided. Please contact Mary Cox in Accessibility Resource Center at or 530-898-5959 if there are any issues connecting to a webinar. 

Perspectives on Serving Students with Chronic Illness

Lynn Fuentes, MA, JD, PhD, CEO, Transformation Teaching

Students with a chronic illness disability experience many barriers that do not always match up with traditional disability accommodations. As a result, such students often receive insufficient supports. Because their needs are not well understood by administrators, faculty, and other students, rejection, skepticism, and outright disbelief are also not uncommon. Assessing such students' needs and ensuring that appropriate accommodations are available and carried out can be a challenge for disability specialists and others who work with these students. In this webinar, we will cover some common barriers and possible accommodations, and also consider how to interact with different viewpoints on campus regarding whether and how to implement them. 

Neurodiversity, Autism Politics, and Language: A Brief Introduction

John Caldora, M.Ed., Disability Accommodations Consultant, University of Kentucky

Autism remains a critical topic for disability services professionals. However, many have only scratched the surface of this deep issue. This session will approach autism from the paradigm of neurodiversity, including developing self-advocacy, the history and politics of the neurodiversity movement, and discrimination issues. The presenter offers insights from his own challenges and experiences as a member of the Autism Spectrum and a Disability Services Professional. 

Would This Be a Fundamental Alteration? Practical Guidance For Working with Students and Faculty

Jamie Axelrod, M.S., Director of Disability Resources, Northern Arizona University
Adam Meyer, Ph.D., Director of Student Accessibility Services, University of Central Florida

Although some accommodation requests are fairly routine to consider, other requests could fundamentally alter the course, program, or activity, and therefore may not be an appropriate accommodation to implement. How can we make that determination and feel sure about our decision? This workshop will guide practitioners through scenarios that frequently arise in this work, including requests for remote attendance, extra time on skills-based or lab exams, and flexible deadlines. Presenters will provide a framework for consulting with faculty, eliciting necessary information from students and establishing a sound process for evaluating the request, and when necessary, determining if it constitutes a fundamental alteration. 

Personal Care Attendants and College Students: An Introduction and Guide

Annie Tulkin, MS, Founder and Director, Accessible College
L. Scott Lissner, MSEd., ADA Coordinator/504 Compliance Officer, Ohio State University

Students who have personal care attendants (PCAs) are arriving at colleges in greater numbers, and Disability Resource professionals don’t always know how to best support them. How does the school handle housing for students with PCAs? Are fully accessible restrooms available? How does a PCA function in a classroom setting? What about exams? This webinar will cover the role of a PCA on campus; the legal responsibilities of the school and the student; examples of PCA policies, including emergency procedures; what families of incoming students should know; and best practices, including how to conduct the interactive process with a student with a PCA who is enrolling and requesting accommodations. Presenters will offer many resources and Q&A time. 

"I'm Unlearning!" Applying Reflexivity to Higher Education Disability Services as a Tool for Supporting Students with Intersectional Identities

Morgan Strimel, Doctoral Candidate, George Mason University
Jamilah Anderson, Associate Director of Disability Services, George Mason University

Although the higher education disability services field requires considerable use of professional judgment to make accommodation-related decisions, there is a lack of guidance on how to carry this out in day-to-day interactions with students. When drawing on personal and professional experiences, disability services professionals are directly guided by their own positionality, which is their collective identities and experiences, and therefore - for better or for worse - their biases as they determine accommodations for students with disabilities. To better understand these influencing identities and the role of positionality in the disability services profession, this presentation will share themes that emerged from thirteen semi-structured interviews with disability services professionals that focused on their perceptions of the relationship between their positionality and their work. Further, we will invite attendees to examine their own positionalities through an interactive activity where they will pinpoint influential aspects of their identities. This presentation will conclude with a large group discussion focused on the implications for practitioners in regard to seeing our own positionalities and their role in our work. In addition to discussing implications for practice with attendees, the presenters will guide the conversation around reflexivity, or consciously examining when and where our positionalities may influence our choices and interactions as disability services professionals. 

Designing the Flexible Attendance Accommodation for Maximum Effectiveness

Adam Meyer, Ph.D., Director of Student Accessibility Services, University of Central Florida

Students with chronic health or mental health conditions that may be unpredictable in nature and could impact the ability to attend classes sometimes request an accommodation generally referred to as “flexible attendance.” How can Disability Resource professionals determine whether this accommodation is appropriate and if so, how to implement it effectively? This webinar will address how facilitating this accommodation requires working toward concrete outcomes rather than relying on generic statements. Explore how this accommodation can be practically designed as a concept, worded in an accommodation letter, and put into practice in collaboration with faculty. Plenty of time for Q&A will be provided.

Navigating the Field as a New Disability Resource Professional

Katy Washington, J.D., PhD., Chief Accessibility Officer, Virginia Commonwealth University

New professionals, congratulations on joining this amazing field! During your first few weeks in your position, you were probably given a ton of information about laws, processes, and procedures and got right to work figuring things out. You probably learned quickly that working in the disability resources field can present many opportunities to be subject matter experts and lead the university in addressing inequities. But when you are new to the field, this can seem intimidating, regardless of the size or type of institution or number of staff in your office. There is so much to learn, and the expectation may feel enormous to know everything about disability law and how it applies to your position during your first week. During this webinar, we will dive into a discussion on topics such as the foundations of our field; developing your why; opportunities for career progression, professional development and growth opportunities; and preventing burnout. 

Seven Essential Functions of the ADA/504 Coordinator Role

Enjie Hall, CRC, LPC, MRC, Director Disability Resource Center/ADA Coordinator, University of Minnesota
Bree Callahan, M.Ed., ADA Coordinator, University of Washington

Do you have the responsibility of ADA Coordinator as part of your job, but aren’t entirely sure what that entails? Or have you thought about transitioning to that position, but were unsure how it differs from other campus disability work? The role of the ADA/504 Coordinator has a broad scope, allowing each institution to shape the position in the way that works best based on its own needs and culture. At some schools this role is an independent position, and at others it is part of the Disability Resource Office. Presenters for this webinar represent one of each. Their discussion will introduce seven primary ADA Coordinator functions at any school: navigating through informal and formal grievances, upholding the interactive process for reasonable accommodations, embedding disability access into DEI efforts, coordinating physical/environmental accessibility, sustaining digital access, promoting access to campus events/programming, and ensuring effective institutional communication. Different institutional models for the work will be shared during this session along with how the work is informed by policies and procedures. 

From COVID-19 to Racial Unrest: Research-Based Best Practices in Responding to Experiences of Trauma

Zachary Lounsbury, M.Ed. candidate, Disability Services Professional, Colorado College
Cathy Lounsbury, Ed.D., LCPC, Professor, Antioch University

The period between March 2020 and today is one marked by extraordinary societal disruption. Amidst a global pandemic, we experienced profound racial unrest and political discord. By simply living through this time, many, including the university students we work with daily, have experienced trauma symptomatology. Students with disabilities, students of color, and students identifying as LGBTQIA+ may have elevated experiences of trauma related to these larger contextual factors. Incorporating an intentional trauma-informed approach can be effective in reducing disruptive symptoms and fostering resilience. This presentation summarizes original and existing research on experiences of trauma during the COVID-19 pandemic, broader experiences of trauma for disabled students, students of color, and students identifying as LGBTQIA+ including specific, actionable, and research-based steps for disability professionals to incorporate a trauma-informed approach into daily work. Utilizing these strategies, attendees will develop a plan for the implementation of a trauma-informed approach into their specific positions.