Mason’s Helen A. Kellar Institute for Human disAbilities (KIHd) and the National Down Syndrome Society will host the State of the Art Conference on Postsecondary Education and Individuals with Intellectual Disabilities. The conference takes place at the Mason Inn Conference Center and Hotel on the Fairfax Campus on Thursday, Oct. 28 and Friday, Oct. 29 from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
As an interdisciplinary program of Mason’s College of Education and Human Development, KIHd is dedicated to improving the lives and productivity of persons with disabilities.
The two-day conference will provide an opportunity for colleges, universities, researchers, organizations, program staff, parents and other supporters from across the country to participate in workshops and seminars that focus on the current state of higher education policies, research and practices that affect students with intellectual disabilities.
“We are very pleased to host this conference at Mason because it demonstrates the university’s commitment to bettering the lives of individuals with intellectual disabilities,” says Michael Behrmann, director of KIHd. “This conference will open the door for people from across the country to discuss the ways in which we can take a closer look at the effectiveness of the educational practices that are being utilized in higher education.”
The conference will open on Thursday, Oct. 28, with a keynote address by David Bergeron, acting deputy assistant secretary for policy, planning and innovation for the Office of Postsecondary Education in the U.S. Department of Education. He will speak about the implementation of legislative changes to the Higher Education Act of 2008.
The first day of the conference will focus on postsecondary education policy and advocacy. Sessions throughout the day will include how to prepare students to transition from high school to college and the strategies taken by colleges and universities to develop partnerships with state agencies. The second day will focus on research and practice in postsecondary education. Some of the sessions will include developing effective strategies to integrate students into the community and supporting students as they transition to living independently.
Mason President Alan Merten will participate on a Higher Education Leadership panel on Thursday, Oct. 28 from 4:15 – 5:15 p.m. The panel, which also includes administrators from Coastal Carolina University, Syracuse University and the College of New Jersey, will discuss successful programs at their respective institutions, as well as some of the advantages of these programs for their universities and student bodies.
Other Mason faculty and staff who will participate in the conference include Behrmann and several members of Mason’s Learning Into Future Environments (LIFE) program including Heidi Graff, program director; Kudy Giwa-Lawal, program coordinator; Karen Ingram, academic coordinator; and Jen Labbe, employment coordinator.
The Mason LIFE program provides opportunities for young adults with intellectual disabilities the opportunity to take classes to help improve their literacy, as well as employment and independent living skills.
Other conference speakers and presenters include:
- Donald Bailey, College Transition Connection, an organization that works with select colleges and universities in South Carolina to develop postsecondary opportunities for young adults with intellectual disabilities
- Kathleen Miller, Institute on Disabilities at Temple University
- Patricia Gill, Institute for Educational Leadership, a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving educational policies and systems for children and youth
- Ann Lindsey, Montgomery County Public Schools
- Andrew Sinclair, Holyoke Community College
The conference is co-sponsored by the Riggio family; the Office of Postsecondary Education and the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research; U.S. Department of Education; the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education; the University of Minnesota’s Institute on Community Integration; ThinkCollege; Association of University Centers on Disabilities the Lawrence B. Taishoff Center for Inclusive Higher Education at Syracuse University; the American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities; and PACER Center.
More information about the conference and a complete schedule of events can be found on the website.