Association of Higher Education and Disability conference comes to UCCS

October 17, 2017

Lily Spencer

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     UCCS will host the first conference of the Colorado-Wyoming Association of Higher Education and Disability (AHEAD) on Oct. 19-20.

    AHEAD is an international membership organization for two- and four-year institutions to make improvements in how higher education meets the needs of those with disabilities and provides resources  accomplish that goal.

    UCCS was previously a member of the Colorado-Wyoming Consortium, but the group recently became an AHEAD affiliate and changed its name to Colorado-Wyoming AHEAD.

    The conference will feature guest speakers from organizations aimed at providing inclusion for those with disabilities, informational sessions, training and resources to attendees.

    A tour of the Olympic Training Training and a Q&A with a Paralympic athlete.

    Ida Dilwood, director of Disability Services, believes this format will give members of the former conference group a new experience with AHEAD.

    “We are trying to make it more of a conference focus, which I am excited about because now we are able to get bigger, more influential speakers because of our affiliation with the larger organization,” she said.

   According to the AHEAD website, the organization is “committed to full participation of persons with disabilities in post secondary education.”  

    Founded in 1977, this year marks the 40th anniversary of AHEAD, which has more than 2,800 members throughout the U.S., Canada, Australia, South Africa, Japan and multiple European countries.

    One of the notable speakers during the conference will be Rebecca Tanglen and Erica R. Austin from the Office of Civil Rights in Denver. They will discuss different cases of discrimination and ways that a university can avoid such cases and how to handle them if they do occur.

    Dilwood says OCR handles all cases of discrimination at UCCS including discrimination against disability.  

     “If there is an allegation of discrimination, a student would go to OCR, file a complaint and say ‘I want you to investigate this university to see if my complaint is real and founded,’” said Dilwood.

    In addition to guest speakers from OCR, conference attendees will have the opportunity to choose from different sessions to attend. One of the sessions is a showcase of antique assistive technological equipment lent to AHEAD by Scott Kupferman, assistant professor in the College of Education at UCCS.

   Kupferman uses these tools to help his students to learn more about special education.

   “My collection started out as teaching tools to incorporate into my UCCS courses,” he said.

    “It has since grown to over 2,000 items which it’s the largest private collection of historic assistive technology.”

     Some of the items that will be showcased include a braille typewriter from 1892; one of the first text scanners for people who are blind; the first sign to say “accessible” instead of “handicapped” or “disabled” from the 2013 presidential inauguration; and some of the first hearing aids.

    Other sessions include a roundtable discussion on existing assistive technology and the impact it has on learning for those with disabilities, a presentation of the CU system’s current efforts in disability services programming, and a presentation demonstrating how institutions can use Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) to prepare students with learning differences for college success.

    In addition to UCCS and other schools in the CU system, representatives from Colorado College, University of Northern Colorado, Colorado State University, and multiple institutions in Wyoming will also be attending the conference.

    Dilwood believes this conference is incredibly important for UCCS and other institutions to encourage the learning and inclusion of those with disabilities.

    “Knowing that UCCS is committed to the idea of learning more about what we can do in this area is great,” she said.  “It is an opportunity for us to share this information with not just our office but to educate others on campus too.”