Conference Convened- 7:30am

and breakfast – 7:30am to 9:00am

Presentation Session I – 9:15am to 10:15am

IA – Digital Accessibility in City Government
Presenters: Walei Sabry and Clair Kearney-Volpe
9:15am to 10:15am – Room 1.77

As the world becomes more digital, institutions of higher education are increasingly moving towards adopting newer technologies. Electronic documents, e-books, online learning platforms, discussion forums, online class registrations and websites are being used more and more in classrooms. If these technologies are not universally designed or adhere to existing accessibility standards, transitions of students with disabilities are not equal to their peers. This presentation will highlight the importance of digital accessibility as well as the efforts that the City of New York has taken to address this issue. The long-term strategy for implementing accessibility into over 280 websites operated by over 50 City agencies will be shared. Topics include, developing an accessibility culture within organizations, implementing a system of accreditation to insure accessibility of all content before it goes live and solutions for complex digital features such as interactive maps.

Walei Sabry was born in Egypt and raised in New York. He was once sighted and now blind. Walei’s field of expertise is transitioning in many facets of life. As the Digital Accessibility Coordinator, Walei makes sure that the City of New York’s digital products can be accessed by all.

Claire Kearney-Volpe is an Art Therapist, Digital Accessibility Professional, Designer and Researcher. She holds a Master’s Degree from New York University’s Interactive Telecommunications Program and is currently a PhD Candidate in NYU’s Rehabilitation Sciences Program, Web Accessibility Fellow at CUNY, and Research Fellow at the NYU Ability Project. Her work centers around Participatory Design, Disability, Human Computer Interaction, as well as, the accessibility of code languages and code pedagogy.

IB – Invisible Disabilities, Stigma, and Student Veterans: Contextualizing the Transition to Higher Education
Presenter: Patrick Flint
9:15am to 10:15am – Room 1.75

As military veterans transition back into civilian life, the transition process is often filled with challenges. Some veterans leave military service having developed a service-related disability such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, or depression. These invisible disabilities can further complicate the transition from military to civilian life. As military veterans with invisible disabilities begin the transition back into society, many enroll in college to retrain or start new careers. While many military veterans experience difficulties transitioning into civilian life, their invisible disabilities, and the often stigmatization that comes with such disabilities, can make integrating into college as a student a uniquely challenging transition in their new lives.

Dr. Patrick Flink is currently an Assistant Professor at the Borough of Manhattan Community College. Dr. Flink currently researches various student populations within the larger community college student population. As a Navy veteran, Dr. Flink has experienced first hand, the effects of transitioning from the military into the civilian world, and into higher education. Through first-hand experience, and current research, Dr. Flink aims to present a balanced yet personal approach to this topic.

IC – Where We Were, Where We Are, and Where We Are Going – A Breakdown of the Past, Present, and Future of Assistive Technology Support for College Students
Presenters: The CUNY Coalition for Students with Disabilities (CCSD) and Charmaine Townsell
9:15am to 10:15am – Room 1.73

How long ago were academic technologies implemented? How far have they come? How much further will they adapt to better serve students with disabilities? CCSD will explore these ideas and reflect on Assistive Technology’s growing positive impact on student success.

The CUNY Coalition for Students with Disabilities, or CCSD, include Executive Board members Bryan Wigfall, Leonard Blades, Roberto Zamora, Ahra Sung, Aziza Busby, and Sayonara Diaz.

CCSD is a coalition of student clubs/organizations aimed at protecting students’ rights, in particular students with disabilities. We explore politics and political action, as well as discussing and debating developments in local, state, and national politics. CCSD strives to increase awareness, opportunity and foster community amongst CUNY’s students with disabilities.

Charmaine Townsell is the advisor for the CUNY Coalition for Students with Disabilities (CCSD).

ID – Facilitating Successful Transitions to Online Teaching & Learning
Presenters: Christopher Leydon and Antonia Levy
9:15am to 10:15am – Room 1.69

Transitioning from taking courses in traditional face-to-face classroom environment to attending an online degree program presents a particular set of challenges for students with disabilities, for the faculty who teach them, and for the staff members who work to support their academic success. In this presentation, we will discuss a three-pronged approach toward providing a smooth transition for students entering the asynchronous distance learning environment: Direct support for students by disability services staff on the front end (assistive technology and the human element); Direct support for faculty on the back end (training in UDL and best practices); and Remediation of inaccessible course content and course sites as a last resort. The presentation will include an interactive element, allowing for discussion of particular scenarios and comparisons between supporting student transition issues in an online or face-to-face learning environment.

Christopher Leydon is the Student Services Coordinator at CUNY School of Professional Studies, where he oversees student disability services and works to optimize the accessibility of online and face-to-face instruction. He began his career in student affairs at the CUNY Graduate Center, while completing a doctorate in comparative literature and a certificate in medieval studies. He has taught literature, writing, and disability studies at several units of the CUNY system.

Antonia Levy is an East German transplant to New York and is currently the Instructional Technology and Multimedia Manager at CUNY School of Professional Studies. Working in faculty development and instructional technology, she is dedicated to the implementation of universal design. Antonia is also finishing her dissertation in sociology at the Graduate Center, and has been teaching for many years as an adjunct instructor at several CUNY colleges.

Welcome, Key Note – 10:30am to 12:00pm

Presentation Session II – 12:15pm to 1:15pm

IIA – College and Beyond: Helping Students on the Autism Spectrum Transition
Presenter: Dylan Emmons
12:15pm to 1:15pm – Room 1.75

The goal of this presentation is to give faculty, staff and professionals an insider’s perspective regarding the unique and not always obvious challenges that students on the Autism Spectrum and with related disorders experience when transitioning into college life. Social issues relating to unspoken norms and rules, shifting support groups and relationships have the potential to de-rail students in this population who, due in part to increased reliance on routine, can experience more hardship than their neuro-normative peers with transitions. These may not be easy for students to express or for educators or professionals to meaningfully respond to. A secondary goal of the presentation will be to discuss strategies for communicating more effectively with students on the spectrum, as well as a few keys for ensuring that incoming college students on the autism spectrum have the best chance of success possible in shaping and realizing their professional goals.

Dylan Emmons is the author of Living in Two Worlds: On Being a Social Chameleon with Asperger’s.  Diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome at the age of six, he now offers workshops for teachers, professionals and parents of individuals on the autism spectrum and consults for organizations working with or employing individuals on the Autism Spectrum. Most recently, he has worked with programs serving incoming and current students on the autism spectrum at Westchester Community College and Manhattanville College. Dylan is a Reading/Writing Teacher with CUNY Start at Bronx Community College and lives just outside of New York City.

IIB – Using Universal Design for Learning to Promote Success among Transitioning and Current College Students with Disabilities: Project REACH and CUNY Unlimited
Presenter: Kristen Gillespie-Lynch and Dr. Vandana Chaudhry
12:15pm to 1:15pm – Room 1.77

Students with disabilities face challenges transitioning from high school to college, including a pronounced reduction in supports available in college. There are few specialized programs for college students with autism and/or intellectual disabilities nationwide; the programs that do exist are often expensive and not systematically evaluated (Barnhill, 2014; Grigal et al., 2011). College students with disabilities are also confronted with the challenge of self-advocating to request needed accommodations. This presentation will share insights from two initiatives to support college students with autism and/or intellectual disabilities, disabilities that have historically been particularly underrepresented in the college environment (Shattuck et al., 2012).

Dr. Kristen Gillespie-Lynch is an Assistant Professor of Psychology at CSI. She developed a mentorship program for college students with autism (Building Bridges Project REACH), directs CSI’s Advanced Certificate Program in ASD and is co-chair of the TPSID faculty sub-committee. She uses online surveys/trainings to assess and change conceptions of autism among people with diverse relationships to autism internationally.

Dr. Vandana Chaudhry came to the College of Staten Island in 2012 after completing her doctoral studies in Social Work and Disability Studies at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Dr. Chaudhry’s dissertation was supported by the Ford Foundation, the National Science Foundation, and the Society for Social Work and Research among others.She has worked extensively on disability issues in developing countries, and has served in consultative roles with various international institutions including the World Bank. Dr. Chaudhry’s research is oriented towards building knowledge that embraces disability as intrinsic to human diversity, and to promote policies that enable self-determination and full participation for all.

IIC – Bridging a Digital Divide: Introducing Students with Disabilities to Technology at CUNY
Presenters: Ashleigh Thompson, Nadia Griffith Allen, Carlos Herrera, and Alyssa Vine
12:15pm to 1:15pm – Room 1.73

In collaboration with the CUNY Central Office of Academic Affairs, and with funding from the CUNY IT Steering Committee’s Strategic Technology Initiative, last summer Queensborough Community College and John Jay College of Criminal Justice presented technology workshops for new students with disabilities. The workshops, designed and facilitated by each college’s Office of Disability Services, introduced students to crucial academic resources like CUNYfirst and Blackboard, as well as a variety of available assistive technology tools. Organizers will share outcomes of the workshops and offer actionable, low-cost strategies for replicating aspects of the program.

Nadia Griffith-Allen has a Master of Arts in Higher and Adult Education from Columbia University. She is currently the Deputy Director of Accessibility Services at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York City. Before coming to John Jay College, she served as the Dean of Students at Berkeley College. She is the Chair of Compliance and Diversity for the Institute for Intellectual Property and Social Justice, Inc. Nadia Griffith-Allen has worked in higher education for 25 years and in disability services for more than a decade.

Ashleigh Thompson serves CUNY as University Dean for Education, and in this role oversees Teacher Education across the University, a portfolio encompassing more than 16,000 education students pursuing associate to doctoral degrees. In addition to leading several programs to increase and diversity the teacher pipeline and promote student access and success, Dr. Thompson has taught, presented and published, especially in the interdisciplinary fields of Disability Studies and Youth Studies.

Carlos Herrera has over 30 years of experience in the workforce development and education field. His tenure at CUNY has been marked by an expansion of awareness and collaboration in student accessibility services. Formerly Manager of the CUNY Assistive Technology Services Project (CATS) , Carlos was the driving force behind the creation of CATSweb an online AT resource and website as well as the annual CUNY Accessibility Conference which brings together hundreds of disability services and assistive technology professionals every year.

Alyssa Vine is the Associate Director of Communications in CUNY’s Office of Academic Affairs. Her work supports a wide range of university-wide efforts related to academic policy, with particular emphasis on experiential learning and adult learner initiatives. She also serves on the university’s Technology Accessibility Task Force and is currently leading an Academic Affairs’ project focused on improving accessibility of web content on

IID – University wide Licensing of Assistive Technology – A National Model
Presenter: CUNY Assistive Technology Services
12:15pm to 1:15pm – Room 1.69

Through the use of various assistive technologies (AT), including screen readers (JAWS), optical character recognition (Open Book), screen enlargers (Zoom Text Fusion) and reading and writing software suites (Wynn), students with disabilities can be accommodated and given tools to access CUNY’s educational program and services. These same AT tools can bring benefits to many others in the CUNY community, where the opportunities for extending those benefits across CUNY programs are not targeted towards SWD. i.e.: CUNY Start, Libraries, Continuing Education, etc.

Lunch and Vendor Session – 1:30pm to 2:30pm

Presentation Session III – 2:45pm to 3:45pm

IIIA- Neurodiversity Among Students of Color: Supporting African American and Latino Students with Learning Disabilities
Presenters: Crystal Vazquez and Kristopher Robinson
2:45pm to 3:45pm – Room 1.77

Students with disabilities and students of color, particularly African American and Latino students, represent two rapidly growing, but traditionally underachieving groups in higher education institutions. This session will focus on neurodiverse African American and Latino students, or those who present with disabilities that affect learning, such as ADHD, dyslexia, and Autism Spectrum Disorder. It will define and examine neurodiversity, and its prevalence and manifestation in African American and Latino students in higher education.

Crystal Vazquez is the Associate Director of the Office of AccessABILITY Services at Guttman Community College, specializing in assistive technology, Universal Design for Learning, and AccessABILITY advocacy. She has over 10+ yearsí experience in AccessABILITY services, leadership, and higher education, all spent working to create accessible communities for diverse, underserved, and/or underrepresented populations. Previously, Crystal served the John Jay College community as the Assistant Director of the Office of Accessibility Services, while earning a dual Masterís Degree in Public Administration and Criminal Justice with a concentration in Diversity Management and Human Resources from John Jay.

Kristopher Robinson is the CUNY LEADS Neurodiversity Advisor at Guttman Community College within the Office of AccessABILITY Services, where he works to spread awareness and celebration of neurodiversity and to prepare students with disabilities to have successful postsecondary outcomes. Kris has a Masterís Degree in Rehabilitation Counseling from Hunter College and is a Certified Rehabilitation Counselor (CRC). He is currently pursuing a second masterís degree in Higher Education Administration at Baruch College. Kris is passionate about discussions related to equity, diversity, access, and inclusion and is particularly interested in advocating for students of color with multiple, intersectional, marginalized identities.

IIIB- Changes and Challenges: Designing for All at LaGuardia and Beyond
Presenters: Designing for All Project Team and Priscilla Stadler
2:45 to 3:45pm – Room 1.73

What types of transitions are experienced by students, faculty, staff, and administrators when an institution commits to providing access to learning for all? How can Assistive Services and pedagogical practices be connected most effectively to serve our students? LaGuardia Community Collegeís Designing for All (DfA) pilot project recognizes multiple types of transitions, including those of students coming into a new and different learning environment. LaGuardiaís DfA pilot also acknowledges the potential changes faced by faculty, staff, and administrators who are learning as professionals and practitioners.

This session will explore the student-centered learning implications of designing courses, classrooms, and policies in direct response to feedback and innovation from students with dis/abilities; students who learned other languages before they learned English; and, generally, students who have been historically marginalized by educational systems and course design.

The Designing for All Pilot Project, supported by the CUNY Strategic Technology Initiative and LaGuardia Community College, is dedicated to inclusive pedagogy that provides a welcoming learning environment for all of our students regardless of the obstacles they are facing.

Priscilla Stadler is the coordinator of LaGuardia’s Designing for All pilot project which includes students, faculty, IT. Assistive Services, the Library and the Center for Teaching and Learning. She is the Associate Director of instructional Design and Technology Platforms at LaGuardia’s Center for Teaching and Learning.

IIIC- Millennials in Transition: Bridging the Employment Gap of Young Adults with Disabilities
Presenters: Bethany LaLonde and Jim Poyerd
2:45pm to 3:45pm – Room 1.75

This presentation will address the growing needs of millennial youth with disabilities as they transition from programs in higher education to the workforce. As the number of young adults with disabilities increasingly embark on college and the workforce, the focus on more individualized and age-appropriate transition approaches and preparation are needed.

By highlighting the successes of CUNY students who have navigated the leap from education to employment, we will recognize the efforts that have worked among this population.This presentation will encourage young people and employers to speak openly about their experiences and strengths, utilize the techniques of universal design for employment, and seek out meaningful accommodations and natural supports in the workplace.

Bethany LaLonde has a Bachelor of Science in Human Services with a Minor in Sociology from Cazenovia College and a Masters in Social Work from Rutgers University. Before CUNY, Bethany advocated for individuals with developmental and intellectual disabilities and their families as a Staff Advocate at Disability Rights New Jersey in Trenton.

Jim Poyerd, a native Brooklynite, earned his BA in Psychology with a minor in Philosophy of Applied Ethics, as well as his MSEd in School and Community Counseling Psychology from St. Bonaventure University, and an MA in Forensic Psychology from John Jay College of Criminal Justice and took courses in Rehabilitation Counseling at Hunter College. Previous work experience includes:  Mental Health Unit Chief at Riker’s Island, and Casework Supervisor for a Red Cross 9/11 Family Assistance program.

Conference adjourned – 4:00pm

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