Program 2023

33rd Annual Postsecondary Disability Training Institute (PTI) 

Sponsored by the Collaborative on Postsecondary Education and Disability, Neag School of Education, University of Connecticut 

Tuesday, May 30th – Friday, June 2nd, 2023 

Boston Park Plaza, Boston, Massachusetts

Last updated 4/24/2023

How do  You  Meet the Unique Needs of College Students with Disabilities? 

Come learn skills you’ll use every day! The objective of the Training Institute is to assist concerned professionals to meet the unique needs of college students with disabilities. Participants can select sessions about a wide range of cutting-edge topics in variety of formats, including 3-day strands, single sessions, poster presentations and pre-institute sessions. All formats provide participants with in-depth information and adequate time for questions and follow-up activities. 

 Participants also have opportunities to share information and network with each other at various activities throughout the week. 

Should You Attend? 

Yes! If you are one of the following, you should attend this Institute: 

  • LD/Disability Specialist
  • 504/ADA Administrator
  • Administrator
  • Faculty/Instructor/Tutor
  • Educational or Career Counselor
  • Academic Skills Center Personnel


Please note that the posted sessions and/or times may change depending on circumstances beyond our control. 

Pre-Institute Sessions (Tuesday, 1:00-4:00 pm) 

Pre-Institute Session I: 

Support and Empower: A Toolkit for Disability Professionals Working with Neurodiverse Students (All Levels) ~ Joe Farrell, Johanna Murphy, and Kristen Horn, Evolve Coaching.

“Support and Empower” will share the results of a year-long toolkit project for education and disability professionals at the high school and college levels. Attendees will learn to better understand and support their autistic students using a toolkit driven by autistic community members, coaches, and education professionals.

Pre-Institute Session II: 

Creating a Presidential Advisory Committee for Accessibility (All Levels) ~ Deborah McCarthy, University of South Florida.

Does your institution have a presidential awareness committee on disability/accessibility? Participants will focus on the collaborations and patience needed to bring such an awareness group to its full potential. Case study format allows participants to develop a plan for implementation specific to a participant’s campus. 

Pre-Institute Session III: 

Tele-Assessment: Tips for Navigating a New Frontier (All Levels) ~ Lori Muskat, Educational Testing Service.

 Tele-assessment was used infrequently pre-pandemic. The need for social distancing forced a rapid transition from in-person to tele-assessment, and online assessment services have evolved faster than standards to ensure ethical practice. This session will address emerging standards for tele-assessment and how to apply them to evaluating documentation conducted via tele-assessment.

Pre-Institute Session IV: 

Campus Disability-Related Peer Supports: Current Knowledge and How to Start Organizations on Your Campus (All Levels) ~ Ashley Taconet, University of Connecticut, Emily Tarconish, University of Illinois, and Shannon Langdon, University of Connecticut.

This pre-institute session will discuss college disability-related peer support organizations. Findings from a national survey and interviews will be shared. Next, two different organization models at two institutions will be discussed. The session will end with a guided activity for audience members to go through the process of how to conceptualize a similar organization at their institution.  

Poster Session and Opening Reception (Tuesday evening, 7:30-9:00 pm); Georgian.

  • Why Thinking Aloud Beats “When in Doubt, Pick ‘C’”: Using Cognitive Interviewing Techniques in Tutoring Students with Learning Differences ~ Jacquline Ahl, SUNY Dutchess Community College.
  • Navigating the Transition to College ~ Kristian Carden, Virginia Commonwealth University.
  • Sharing is Caring: Building and Participating in a Team-Based Case Review ~ Morgan Conway, Connecticut State Community College at Quinebaug Valley, and Debbie Kosior, Connecticut State Community College at Tunxis.
  • College Matters: A Five-Year Project to Promote Inclusive Postsecondary Education in Florida ~ Lyman Dukes, III, University of South Florida.
  • Supporting College Students with Physical Disabilities: Guidance from the Literature ~ Christopher Esposito and Shannon Langdon, University of Connecticut.
  • Project IEDev: Increasing Competitive Integrated Employment with 4SightGPS Technology ~ Michael Faggella-Luby, Texas Christian University, Derrick Wessley, Directed Analytics and Curby Alexander, Texas Christian University.
  • Broadening the Scope of Campus Community: Deacs Like Me ~Jacqueline Friedman, Jean Anne Semke and Laura Denlinger, Wake Forest University.
  • Recognizing Bias and Decision Fatigue: Addressing Barriers Through Universal Design ~ Sarah Gossman, Southern Connecticut State University.
  • Collaboration Between Campuses and Respective Access Departments Through Institutional Merges ~ Courtney Gutierrez and Kyle Droz, Northeastern University.
  • Accessible College Communities for Equitable Student Supports ~ Andrea Hojnacki and Rebecca Leporati, Holyoke Community College.
  • Go With the Flow: Finding Balance Through Fiber Arts ~ Julie O’Sullivan, Gretchen Lieb and MaryJo Cavanaugh, Vassar College.
  • Students’ Perceptions of HyFlex Course Design and Instructional Methods: A Universal Design Option ~ Kristine Owens and Jill Sudak-Allison, Grand View University.
  • Supported Employment Services and Job Outcomes for Low-Income Transition-Age Youth with IDD ~ Hannah Seward, UMass Chan iSPARC
  • Summer LIFE at the Beach: A Transition Experience for Students with Autism ~ Mary Nguyen, Jessica Wood, and Jen Schwartz, California State University Long Beach.



    STRANDS (Wednesday – Friday)

    Please note: Each strand is continuous for three days. You will make one choice from Strand I and one choice from Strand II. Also, note the level of the strand appears in parentheses after the title. Please select your attendance accordingly. 

    Strand A, Sessions A-E (Wednesday, Thursday, & Friday; 8:15-10:00 am) 

    A. Accessibility 101: Principles, Policies, and Good Practices (All Levels) ~ Andrew Cioffi and Haley Riordan, Suffolk University.

    Ensuring the digital accessibility of our web pages, course materials, tech-enhanced learning infrastructure, and electronic information technology (EIT) platforms has become standard practice for Disability/Accessibility service offices. This session will explore how the knowledge and skills necessary for accessibility are readily achievable by any DS provider.

    B. Beyond Access: Work Smarter, Not Harder to Support Student Success (All Levels) ~ Allison Knight and Benjamin Briskin, University of Connecticut.

    In higher education, accommodations provide equal access, but not necessarily success. Enhanced services programs bridge the gap to help students thrive academically and socially. Session participants will learn about the University of Connecticut’s Beyond Access program and take away ideas for adopting and adapting practices to fit their own institutions. 

    C.  Improve Math Success: Study Strategies, Anxiety Reduction, New Accommodations, OCR Rulings and Course Substitutions (All Levels) ~ Paul Nolting, Bradenton, FL.

    The focus of this presentation is for DRO directors, staff and math faculty to have a better understanding how different disabilities affect math learning, appropriate accommodations based on processing deficits or disability area, appropriate course substitutions and legal responsibilities – all based on research and OCR rulings. Participants are encouraged to bring their own case studies with the names blackened out. Different case studies will be provided for small group discussion. The presenter will help the groups develop supporting documentation for taking a credit course or a course substitution. Finally, since past participants have requested help during the semester, each participant will have one hour of free consulting.

    D.  Stop Surviving, Start Thriving (All Levels) ~ Kristie Proctor and Terri Rodriguez, Quinsigamond Community College.

    Have you been surviving or thriving this past year? Have you been working day-to-day, responding to student needs and requests, doing the tactile work of putting out fires? Is your schedule lacking the time to think about the big picture and plan for the future? This workshop will provide time and space for you to think strategically about your office’s mission, purpose, and vision for the next three, six, and 12 months.

    E.  Tips from the Trenches: Disability Law Issues in 2022 (Intermediate) ~ Phillip Catanzano, Education and Sports Law Group.

    Phil Catanzano will provide an overview of the way that disability issues have presented on campus in 2022-23. This will include the legal issues that have arisen in response to the accounts of many institutions that disability-related accommodations continue to increase, both in terms of number and case complexity. It is anticipated that this will include a discussion of involuntary leaves following recent class action demands filed in federal courts, documentation requirements after a recent DOJ settlement involving a testing service, and DOJ enforcement activities in the area of digital accessibility. Regarding digital accessibility, we will also discuss strategic approaches to prioritizing this issue on campus. Finally, we will discuss an assortment of commonly asked questions, ranging from animals on campus to allergies. Using real world examples, we will discuss the ways that these issues present, the analytical legal structure to think through appropriate (and creative) responses, and other challenges that may arise, both from students requesting services as well as from faculty/staff charged with implementing accommodations. Each concept explored will include tips for providers/coordinators to consider folding into practice in their home institution.

    Strand II, Sessions F-J (Wednesday, Thursday, & Friday: 10:15 am-12:00 pm) 

    F.   Tackling the Trickiest Situations with Options (All Levels) ~ Kirsten Behling, Tufts University and Andrew Cioffi, Suffolk University.

    This strand will tackle the hardest disability-related issues. Participants will be asked to identify complex issue(s) with no clear solution at their institution (new diagnoses, remote access, ESAs, administrative and faculty push back, technical issues) ahead of time. We will explore those situations and work toward solutions throughout the strand.

    G.  The New Professional Institute – Presented by VCU’s Transforming Accessibility Initiative (Beginner) ~ Ian Kunkes, Virginia Commonwealth University. 

    Now in its second year at PTI, The New Professional Institute will provide insights and tips for professionals new(ish) to the disability services and accessibility field. We will cover topics including core competencies, navigating the higher education landscape, understanding the history of our field and where we are headed, and planning a career path for growth and success.

    H. Campus to Career: Promoting Successful Transitions to Meaningful Employment Outcomes (All Levels) ~ David Parker, Larry Markle, Carlos Taylor, Gregory S. Fehribach Center at Eskenazi Health and Shannon Langdon, University of Connecticut.

     This strand will explore strategies that Disability Service providers can employ to enhance the career development of students with disabilities. This newer topic will demonstrate how we can collaborate with Career Services and employers to enhance students’ preparation for self-advocacy as employees while enriching their self-determination with robust professional growth.

    I.  Studying Doesn’t Have to be Boring: Sensory Engagement, Advertising Tricks, and Atypical Neurology (Intermediate) ~ Jacqueline Ahl, Dutchess Community College.

    Looking for ways to integrate strategy instruction and academic coaching? This session covers the development of efficient, effective, engaging study strategies, applicable across academic disciplines. Learn how to combine the tricks and techniques of commercial advertising with highly tailored sensory engagement. The result? Enhanced semantic memory and higher order thinking. 

    J.  LD and ADHD evaluations: Demystifying Terminology, Tests, and Scores and Applying Them to Accommodation Decisions (Beginner) ~ William Lindstrom & Gerri Wolfe, UGA Regents’ Center for Learning Disorders.

    This strand will provide training on the interpretation of the various types of LD and ADHD evidence commonly submitted by students seeking accommodations. Topics will include a review of diagnostic criteria and frequently used assessment measures, psychometric score interpretation, analysis of self- and collateral reports, and evidence-based accommodation determinations.

    Single Sessions (see below for specific days and times) 

    You are asked to register for the single sessions to help us plan room placements and give presenters information about anticipated turnout and information about any accommodation needs. You can change your session choices during the Institute – just contact the staff at the registration desk. 

    Wednesday, Single Session I (1:30-2:30 pm) 

    • Staging an Amygdala Intervention: Practical and Radical Strategies for Combating Test Anxiety (Intermediate) ~ Jacqueline Ahl, SUNY Dutchess Community College.

    “I’m a terrible test-taker! The professor wants us to fail!” Let’s change that narrative. We’ll explore the neuroscience of test anxiety and examine various interventions, including concrete changes in preparation, radical means of re-framing thinking, and a program used by Navy Seals to decrease performance anxiety and increase success.

    • Collaboration Benefits Student Success: Bringing Text-to-Speech Software to the Broader Student Body (All Levels) ~ Lisa Bibeau and Jennifer McDowell, Salem State University.

    Supporting students with dyslexia has long been the cornerstone of disability services offices. We want to share how we took that practice of ensuring student access to written materials and expanded it to help support our university’s student success initiatives. This initiative was accomplished using technology tools and collaboration to bring this resource to the student body

    • Peer-2-Peer Programming: Supporting Students with Disabilities and Advancing Campus Accessibility (All Levels) ~ Elizabeth Nako and Kaitlyn Rogers, Brandeis University.

    Learn how to develop a peer support program on your campus! The Student Accessibility Support (SAS) Fellows at Brandeis University promote campus-wide disability awareness and inclusion efforts, create welcoming and stigma-free spaces for students to connect, and provide feedback to improve service. This session will share tips and resources for recruitment, training, and supervision.

    • Breaking the Dropout Cycle: The Role Disability Services has to Play in Improving Student Success and Retention (All Levels) ~ Mais Wilsher, Glean.

    One in three students in Higher Education fail to reach graduation. Shockingly, the graduation rate for students with disabilities is 17.5% lower. 45% of students’ dropout in the first 2 years of college due to what they learn about their academic performance. What can disability services do to help improve student success and boost retention among students registered with their office?

    • Executive Function Coaching: Helping Students to be Better Students (All Levels) ~ Cassandra Estey, Quinsigamond Community College.

    Executive Function Coaching is designed to help students develop the skillsets needed to survive and thrive in a college learning environment. The focus of this presentation is to provide educators, advisors, and other higher education personnel the understanding of what Executive Function Coaching is and how it can benefit students.

    Wednesday, Single Session II (2:45-3:45 pm) 

    • Graduate Students with Disabilities: Are Disability Services Meeting Their Needs? (All Levels) ~ Emily Tarconish, University of Illinois.

    This session will provide an overview of a survey distributed to graduate students with disabilities at a large institution in the northeast. Graduate student perspectives on their needs and how disability services offices do and do not meet them will be discussed.

    • Surviving Cancel Culture: A Cautionary Tale (All Levels) ~ Lorraine Wolfe, Boston University.

    Being cancelled is a public event in which you are fundamentally alone. In this discussion, we will discuss a personal incident as well as strategies to marshal internal and external resources to survive the attack.

    • Updates at ETS and Tips for Assisting Test Takers with Accommodation Requests (All Levels) ~ Robert Plienis and Ronda Purdy, Educational Testing Service.

    ETS continues to progress in our on-going efforts to make the accommodations process less burdensome. Representatives will discuss the latest accommodation updates at ETS including at-home testing, teleassessment guidance, and approvals from other testing agencies.

    • E-Text Accommodations 101: Serving Students with Print-Related Disabilities (Beginner) ~ Dawn Evans, Georgia Tech’s Center for Inclusive Design and Innovation.

    This session will provide the fundamental knowledge, skills, and resources for accommodating students with print-related disabilities. It will cover how to obtain e-text files; the characteristics of PDF, EPUB, and DOC formats; and basic remediation techniques to make the files more accessible.

    • Centers for Neurodiversity: Strategies for Developing and Operating Higher Education’s Newest Cultural Centers (All Levels) ~ Adam Lalor, Landmark College.

    An increasing number of neurodiversity centers are emerging on our campuses. These centers work to celebrate neurodiversity culture and identity. This session will share strategies for developing and operating these new centers using the Landmark College’s Center for Neurodiversity as an example.

    Wednesday, Single Session III (4:00-5:00 pm) 

      • Doing More with Less: How to Succeed with Minimal Resources. (All Levels) ~ Jeremy Martin and Jen Berry, University of North Alabama.

       Adaptability has become a critical skillset in postsecondary education, especially coming out of a worldwide pandemic. Expand your toolbox with tips and tricks that a regional institution in northwest Alabama used to do more with less. Even in the most unexpected circumstances, resources can be right at your fingertips.

      • Making College Accessible and Achievable for Students with Visual Disabilities: Infusing Scholarship into Practice (Beginner) ~ Linda Sullivan and Leslie Thatcher, Dartmouth University.

      Students with blindness and/or vision impairments (BVI) are identified as having the poorest educational and vocational outcomes due to barriers created by their disabilities. A paucity of training programs exists to provide disability resource providers (DRPs) adequate training to properly accommodate and support students with BVI in the post-secondary environment. Participants will learn what kinds of accommodations may be necessary to support a student with BVI at their institution and how to plan for supporting a student with BVI. Outcomes: Participants will develop a resource guide for their institution for future accommodations and access for students with BVI.

      • Come Vent with Us; Come for the Catharsis stay for the Community (All Levels) ~ Kirsten Behling and Jessica White, Tufts University.

      This session is designed to honor the year we just had. It was hard. Few people in higher education appreciate the day-to-day toll that our job can have. This session is designed to give space for venting and then working constructively to make changes for the up-coming year.

      • Executive Function Coaching: Support for Postsecondary Students with Disabilities (All Levels) ~ Kiera Anderson and Matthew Marino, University of Central Florida.

      This presentation will describe a novel conceptual framework used by the Toni Jennings Exceptional Education Institute of the University of Central Florida to support students with disabilities through executive function coaching. The presentation will include challenges and successes from our experience and ways other institutions can adopt this model cost-effectively.

      Thursday, Single Session I (1:30-2:30 pm)

        • Valuing Student Voices: Uplifting and Understanding Students with Disabilities Through Self-Advocacy (Advanced) ~ Sarah Gossman, Southern Connecticut State University.

        When the definitions “student voice” and “self-advocacy” are understood by faculty and staff, the more intentional programming efforts can be made for students with disabilities. This presentation aims to discuss how these definitions can be better understood along with transition theory to create more inclusive and accessible pedological practices.

        • Navigating the Unknown: Being the “Newbie” (Beginner) ~ Jesse Neikrie, AJ Lyman, and Hazel Cheng, Tufts University.

        This presentation is designed for accessibility professionals who have recently joined the field or moved to a new institution. While no two accessibility service offices are alike, in this session we will identify and discuss common challenges, lessons learned, and strategies for transitioning into a new role.

        • Community Outreach and Education: How to Talk about Disability at your Institution (All Levels) ~ Rachel Tessler, Suffolk University.

        As we move from a Compliance Model to a Social Justice model, we begin to think of the initiatives Disability offices can implement at their institutions. Participants will learn the benefits of providing community outreach and educational opportunities on disability-related topics to campus partners.

        • Is Automatic Speech Recognition (ASR) an Accommodation Option Yet? (All Levels) ~ Sheryl Ballenger, Georgia Tech.

        Thinking about accommodating students with technology, rather than costly services that utilize humans? Automatic Speech Recognition (ASR) tools are available now. Is ASR an equitable accommodation for Deaf and hard of hearing students? Research data will be shared concerning the accuracy of ASR and possible settings for ASR accommodations.

        Thursday, Single Session II (2:45-3:45 pm) 

        • Privacy in University Housing: Disability-Related Need or Preference and How to Tell the Difference (All Levels) ~ Catherine Getchell, Carnegie Mellon University.

        This presentation will review findings from a recent survey of fifty-seven U.S. colleges and universities that investigates privacy-related housing accommodation requests. Attendees will explore best practices from the survey, review case law, and come away with a template for gathering additional information from students and medical professionals to inform their decisions.

        • Saving our Students: Shall we redefine “reasonable” in our world of post-COVID challenges? (All Levels) ~ Neal Lipsitz, College of the Holy Cross, Michael Berger, Simmons University & Eileen Berger, Harvard Graduate School of Education.

        Over 60% of students report excessive levels of stress (Slimmen et al., 2022). The impact on mental well-being seems direct and can affect the nature of our work. In this context, are you feeling the need to redefine “reasonable”? Panelists demonstrate how a Framework can address this conundrum.

        • Supporting and Understanding Self-Determination in Postsecondary Education (All Levels) ~ Daniel Greenberg, University of Kansas.

        This session will highlight the concept of self-determination and introduce attendees to tools that can be used to help prepare students to set and pursue personal, educational, and vocational goals during and after postsecondary education. This session will conclude by discussing how self-determination can be used in research contexts.

        • Reimagining Office Hours: Supporting Neurodiverse Student Self-Advocacy Skills and Support Networks (All Levels) ~ Ron Samul, Mitchell College and Jennifer Sullivan, Fast Forward College Coaching.

        This session will introduce a reimagined model of traditional office hours to increase retention and relationship-building with neurodiverse students. Presenters will offer data-driven strategies that intentionally build students’ skills and shape their expectations of student-faculty interactions. This model targets first year students to assist in proactively building support networks on campus.

        • The Road to (AT) Success is Always Under Construction (Beginner) ~ Jessica White, Tufts University.

        In absence of an Assistive Technology specialist, how can a disability services office provide AT services to students in a tangible and relevant way? Technology and apps change, students seek out the next best thing. Hear from one practitioner on their year-long journey to augment their existing knowledge and develop sustainable practices, all while hitting roadblocks and detours along the way.

        Thursday, Single Session III (4:00-5:00 pm)

        • How to Make Executive Dysfunction, Function (All Levels) ~ Kathryn Zimmerman, Roger Williams University.

        Executive dysfunction is barrier that more students are experiencing at all levels of education. By equipping yourself with multimodal tools, that range from “tips and tricks” to full “down and dirty interventions”, you can help build executive functioning skill sets. “How to Make Executive Dysfunction, Function” will provide educators with an array of methods in which they can bring some function.

        • Dis/ability is Diversity: 4 Step Approach to Include it in DEI (All Levels) ~ Charnessa Warren, University of Chicago.

        Dis/ability is the largest minoritized group in the United States, so why is it the least talked about group in diversity and inclusion efforts in higher education? How might we make dis/ability inclusion more salient at our institutions? This session will introduce a four-step approach to systematically include dis/ability and accessibility in higher education. The presenter will share a customizable approach that higher education institutions may utilize to begin the shift from a dis/ability compliance approach to a more inclusive culture. Attendees will be able to share best practices and will begin working on their own dis/ability inclusion action plan.

        • Collaboration Across Campus (All Levels) ~ Kelly Seega, Gabrielle Tyler, and Christopher Scott, University of Connecticut.

        Student-Athlete Success Program Learning Services collaborates with and enables eligible students who have disabilities to coordinate support services, programs, and academic support that enable equal access, through reasonable accommodations, to the student during their time at the University of Connecticut.

        • Equitable Academic Access for Students with Intellectual Disability: Your Questions Answered! (Intermediate) ~ Clare Papay and Chelsea VanHorn Stinnett, University of Massachusetts, Boston.

        Despite increasing enrollment of students with intellectual disability in higher education, disability service professionals may lack the knowledge and resources to effectively support them. Presenters will address the benefits of higher education for students with intellectual disability, effective academic accommodations, and strategies to build campus capacity to support student access.

        • Burnout Busters: Techniques to Take Care of You! (Intermediate) ~ Kristie Proctor and Terri Rodriguez, Quinsigamond Community College.

        When was the last time you took the time to recharge yourself? What are the simple, small, or daily practices you are engaged in to support your own personal development or mental health? This experiential session will demonstrate low/no cost ideas to help support your daily stress levels and easy ideas that can be turned into a low/no cost staff development.