May 2024


2024 START National Training Institute

(3 days) Loews Philadelphia Hotel1200 Market StreetPhiladelphiaPA19107

The annual START National Training Institute (SNTI) serves as the premier hub for the exchange of innovative best practices in IDD-MH (intellectual and developmental disabilities and mental health needs) grounded in the philosophy and principles of the START model (including assessment, treatment, and crisis prevention and intervention services). The SNTI brings together a diverse community including but not limited to professionals & providers, researchers, policy makers, people with lived experience of IDD-MH, and family members.

Objectives of SNTI:

  1. Enhance knowledge of IDD-MH services, best practices, and research
  2. Build and foster relationships, collaboration, and community within and beyond the START network
  3. Showcase innovative, evidence-informed practices that align with START values

Pulling the Plug on Ableism

For the past year, SEEC (Silver Spring MD), has been working with Subject Matter Expert, Jennifer White of Able Opportunities, to understand ableism and dismantle it through the use of Person Driven Technology. Ableism is the mindset that people with disabilities are unable to communicate, understand and make choices for themselves. Work has been done to tackle this toxic mindset by putting smart screen technology in the hands of the people receiving support and their staff. This has empowered people to advocate for themselves in their communities by ordering their own food at a restaurant, in their homes by creating visual schedules with photos and making self-advocacy films to help staff better understand how to support them. This work has led to a culture shift at SEEC, where they recognize innate ableism, but stop it in its tracks to be more equitable to the people they support. In this workshop you will learn the strategies and tech tools needed to address Ableism.

Participants will:

  • Learn what Ableism is and acknowledge it in ourselves.
  • Learn techniques to combat ableism (modeling and inviting, hand under hand, calling in, compliance to alliance).
  • Demonstrate visual schedules and choice-making tools.
  • Hear testimonials from SEEC staff who have been part of the person-driven tech pilot.

John Slatin AccessU 2024

(4 days) St. Edward's University3001 S Congress AveAustinTX78704

John Slatin AccessU is the annual conference where tech professionals, content creators, policymakers, and advocates come together for deep learning in accessible digital design.

AccessU will be hybrid again this year. Virtual attendees will participate through Zoom Events platform, while onsite attendees join at the beautiful St. Edward's campus located in Austin, Texas.

New Term, New Textbooks: Provide Alternative Formats with ReadSpeaker

As textbooks and materials are acquired, accessibility is a high priority. Join AHEAD and learn how to:

  • use ReadSpeaker's alternative format options 
  • quickly and easily integrate text to speech
  • make most inaccessible textbooks readable
  • add voice to legacy PDFs, text images, and assessments
  • provide a suite of learning tools

Assistive Listening Systems: Where We Are Today and What’s on the Horizon

When an elevator is installed, no one asks why the elevator is needed or how to use it. In comparison, when an assistive listening system (ALS) is installed, almost everyone will say “Huh?”

In this session, you’ll learn that even when people wear hearing aids, they still need assistive listening systems to hear clearly in public and private entities. The session will cover which systems fall under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the ADA standards, the practicality of the different ALS, and best practices for managers so that users have a positive experience, whether they wear hearing devices or not. Also, the session will cover how Auracast may be used as an assistive listening system with International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) standards to be released in 2027. For years to come, all assistive listening systems will coexist for users to access clear speech anywhere they go.

How to Produce a Livestreaming Event (that is Accessible, Green, and Open Source)

This webinar will introduce accessibility techniques and approaches to help livestream event producers plan and design their virtual, hybrid, or in-person events that get broadcasted. 

We will look at examples of different types of livestreams, basic equipment and software that's needed, and how to manage human-written live captions and sign language interpretation.  

In addition to accessibility, this webinar will touch on low-carbon producing as well as using commons-based, open-source software for livestreaming.

Inclusive Education for K-12 Students with Mental Health Disabilities

Students with mental health disabilities have a right to be educated with their peers in the least restrictive environments. This webinar will address the right to inclusive education for K-12 students with mental health and behavior-related disabilities, under the ADA, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). The session will review students’ rights and schools’ responsibilities under these laws and will discuss best practices that schools can use to support students with mental health disabilities.

Always A Second Thought: Examining Barriers to Education for Students with Disabilities

As all students, caregivers and educators alike managed the unprecedented changes to education through the public health crisis, students with disabilities continue to face barriers to education and discrimination. Using semi-structured interviews with caring adults, primary caregivers or educators including paraprofessionals of elementary school students, this study explored the barriers that students with disabilities faced throughout the pandemic-related changes. Key topics of concern were the physical alterations in the classroom, transition to online learning, and lack of continued support disabled students throughout the pandemic. Some of the most prevalent barriers included the lack of routine, lack of support and resources online, and changes to the school climate. Aside from the social and academic impacts, caring adults also expressed behavioral changes in their students directly related to the barriers to education throughout the pandemic related changes. This session will use disability studies literature to discuss the barriers and ableist attitudes towards disabled students throughout the pandemic and discuss some strategies for creating affirming and inclusive spaces post-pandemic.

By the end of the session, participants will be able to:

  • Highlight the barriers to education for students with disabilities through the pandemic-related changes
  • Identify systemic dis-ablement and ableist tendencies throughout the educational systems
  • Critically examine how they can support students with disabilities post-pandemic

Promote Self-Advocacy: Helping Children with Tourette Find their Voice

(2 days)

For Mental Health Awareness Month, don't just talk about awareness, but also promote advocacy. Join the Tourette Association of America, the Child Mind Institute, and Fort Health in a roundtable discussion between experts and teens who are thriving with Tourette to discuss:

  • The importance of self-advocacy for any child struggling with mental health challenges and for children with Tourette specifically
  • Strategies to help children advocate for themselves
  • Ways for parents and schools to support self-advocacy
  • Insights from teens thriving with Tourette Syndrome and other challenges

NISOD 2024 Conference

(4 days) JW Marriott Austin110 E 2nd StAustinTX78701

The National Institute for Staff and Organizational Development (NISOD)’s International Conference on Teaching and Leadership Excellence will be taking place from May 25th – 28th, 2024 in Austin, Texas. This conference brings together faculty, administrators, and staff members from community colleges and technical colleges who share a passion for both education and a desire to share resources, ideas, and solutions for their campus communities.

From Algorithms to Empathy: Exploring AI's Innovations and Challenges

Looking for help in 2024 is a little different. When seeking answers to questions, there's a new place to go: AI. Artificial intelligence, or AI, impacts many parts of everyone's daily lives, including mental health. AI is reshaping the landscape for mental health providers, providing them with insights to potentially enhance patient care. In this session, MHA will dive into how AI influences help-seeking behaviors, facilitates access to support and resources, and poses ethical considerations, risks, and complex challenges for mental health.

2024 ADARA Conference

(4 days) Omni Atlanta Hotel at CNN Center100 CNN CenterAtlantaGA30303

Join the in-person 2024 ADARA Conference on May 29 to June 1, 2024, in Atlanta, Georgia. The conference theme is Recover, Recharge and Reconnect. This conference is an excellent opportunity to gain new information, share your experiences, and hone your professional skills. At the conclusion of the conference, you will be able to identify new skills and training strategies that can be applied to your professional practice.

ADARA conference participants represent professionals in the fields of vocational rehabilitation services and behavioral health, including research, independent living, education, interpreting, transition, etc. At the end of the conference, participants from each service field will be able to integrate their service specialty with at least one other related service.  

ADARA also acknowledges that services for Deaf, Hard of Hearing, and DeafBlind persons are scarce; therefore networking is critical in sharing strategies and resources. When the conference is over, participants will be able to list at least three new connections made to other professionals and other agencies serving individuals who are Deaf, Hard of Hearing, and DeafBlind and describe how these relationships may be of benefit to them.

Communication access is another critical factor that affects ADARA members. At the conclusion of the conference, participants will be able to differentiate strategies for providing effective communication to consumers they work with in a variety of settings, as demonstrated in plenary and workshop sessions.

TIC-CON 2024

(4 days) Hilton Anatole2201 N Stemmons FwyDallasTX75207

Get ready for TIC-CON24, the TAA’s annual national conference that brings together the community of people impacted by Tourette Syndrome, Tic Disorders, and associated conditions. Happening in Dallas, Texas, from May 30 – June 2, 2024, this year’s TIC-CON is the perfect weekend for learning, connecting, and fun.  

Join your community for a wonderful weekend where you’ll learn new skills, explore new research and treatment options, and make friends that will last a lifetime.