Certificate in Learning Differences and Neurodiversity​

Course Syllabus
LDN 636—Organization and Operation of Postsecondary Disability Services

This course is the part of the online professional certificate program in Learning Differences and Neurodiversity (LDN) offered by Landmark College, with specializations in “Executive Function,” “Autism Online and on Campus,” or “Post-Secondary Disability Services”.

This course, designed for early career disability resources/services professionals, starts with a foundational overview of higher education Disability Services/Resources Offices (DSO/DROs), followed by an introduction to legal principles and multiple frameworks within the disability field. After this general content, students will take a deeper dive into diagnoses/conditions and disability identities in order to conceptualize DSO programming and create critical and meaningful allyships and relationships on their campuses. The course includes numerous opportunities to apply knowledge and culminates in a large-scale application-driven project for students to have an action plan for their professional career at the course’s end.
Three graduate credits will be awarded per course for students achieving a grade of 80% or greater.

This is an 8-week course, consisting of modules for each week. Each module includes several micro-units, learning activities, and participation prompts. Micro-units are subtopics within the modules, and they contain learning activities (various types of independently accessed content) and participation prompts (asynchronous opportunities to provide thoughts and insights for classmates). Modules 1 and 2 open on the first day of the course; modules 3-8 open roughly 2 weeks in advance of its synchronous session.

The course also includes 6 weekly live facilitated discussions scheduled primarily in the evenings (Eastern Time). We will make every attempt to accommodate individual schedules. Participants should plan on attending at least 5 of the 6 discussions. Facilitated discussions will be hosted via Blue Jeans.  

The course objectives align with professional standards and best practices in the higher education disability services field.
At the conclusion of this course students will:
  • Possess a comprehensive understanding of the disability services profession and associated philosophies
  • Have developed an understanding of how to operate a disability services office in accordance with the program standards promoted by the Association on Higher Education and Disability (AHEAD)
  • Have developed a plan for the continuation of their professional development in disability services.
AHEAD Competencies by Weekly Topics Table
WeekTopicsAHEAD Competencies
Week 1
• Statistical Overview of Higher Education and Disability
• Ethics
• Meeting Professional Standards
• Meeting Standards for Operating Disability Services Programs
1.7, 1.8
Week 2
Legal Compliance and Accessibility in the Post-Secondary Environment
• Americans with Disability Act (ADA)
• Section 504 (of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973)
• Section 508 (of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973)
• Higher Education Opportunity Act (HEOA)
• Important Case Law
1.5, 1.11
Week 3
Models of Disability
• Religious-Moral
• Charity Framework
• Medical Framework
• Social Justice Framework
• Compliance, Service, Comprehensive, and Embedded Models of Disability Services
2.1, 2.2
Week 4
Beyond LD, ADHD, and Autism – An Introduction to Other Disability Types
• Co-Occurring Disabilities
• Psychiatric Disabilities
• Physical Disabilities
• Sensory Disabilities
• Other medical and chronic health conditions
Week 5
Beyond Access Programs and Services for Neurodivergent Students
• Tutoring
• Orientation
• Learning Strategy and Academic Skills Instruction
• Executive Function Coaching
• Peer Mentorship Programs
• Disability/Neurodiversity Cultural Centers
• Honor Societies
• Student Clubs and Orgs
• Sensory Rooms/Spaces
Week 6
Disability Culture, Identity, and Intersectionality
• Disability Culture
• Autistic Culture
• Disability Identity Models
• Specific-Disability Identity
• Race and Disability
• Gender and Disability
• Sexual Orientation and Disability
2.2, 2.4
Week 7
Collaboration and Outreach
• Importance of Collaboration
• Developing Alliances
• Advocacy and Representation
• Enrollment and Outreach
• Professional Development and Training
6.1, 6.3
7.1, 7.2, 7.3, 7.4, 7.5, 7.6, 7.7
Week 8
Assessment and Evaluation
• Importance of Assessment
• Using AHEAD and CAS Program Standards for Assessment
• Leveraging Assessment for Program Growth
5.2, 5.3

Details of the Module format are as follows:

  • Objectives—Each Module will start by articulating the objectives for that Module. The objectives will list anticipated learning of the topics that will be addressed in each Module.
  • Warm-up Activities—Warm-up Activities are designed to help create a community of learners within this course, to understand each other’s perspectives, and to engage in a discourse. Warm-up Activities will be posed at the start of each Module as a query or a scenario to get us thinking about the topic as a group. You can post your own insights, observations, and/or respond to someone else’s posting. This portion is not graded, but engaging in this step will help foster a much deeper learning experience for yourself and your classmates.
  • Learning Activities—Leaning Activities serve as instructional content for the module topics. (Example: Viewing/listening to PowerPoint slides; Readings; Assignments; Targeted Website Browsing; Creating your own library of resources; etc.).
  • Participation Prompts—The Participation Prompt section is like a discussion blog. Instructors will post questions that are designed to guide knowledge acquisition and application of the concepts within each Module. You will need to post an original response and comment on the response of a classmate. [Graded]
  • Facilitated Discussion—Facilitated Discussion is the synchronous meeting time for the course. During this time, we will address queries and points to ponder for discussion. This live discussion will be hosted via BlueJeans, and students are expected to make a sincere effort to attend these sessions live. Students who are unable to attend the synchronous meeting may watch a recording and submit a reflection by the close of the module. [Graded]
  • Additional Resources—A resource repository on disability office work will be created and added to by all members of this learning community throughout the course. [Graded]
The final course grade is determined by the following five assignments.
  1. Participation Prompts and Comments
    33 points total; 5.5 points each
    Each Module will have Participation Prompts that consist of 2 steps:
    1. Posting an original response AND
    2. Posting a comment related to someone else’s response
    For full credit, each of your Participation Prompts should follow the specified directions for responses and be posted before the week for the Module is over. You should plan on responding to at least 6 Participation Prompts (5 points each) and commenting on 6 Participation Prompts (.5 point each).  You only have to respond and comment in 6 of the 8 weeks.
  2. Facilitated Discussions
  3. 20 points total; 4 points each (if all 6 sessions are attended the lowest grade will be dropped and up to 1 point of extra credit may be awarded)
    During Facilitated Discussions (synchronous virtual meetings) we will be discussing live the queries and comments presented by course participants and instructors. Participants can receive up to 4 points for each of the Discussion sessions. In these sessions, we are looking for your active participation and thoughtful engagement. There will be 6 Facilitated Discussions in all; you should plan to participate in at least 5 of these Discussions. Students are expected to make a sincere effort to attend these sessions live. If a student is unable to attend the live meeting, the recording may be viewed immediately following the meeting, and a written reflection submitted by the close of the module as a substitute for live discussion. The written reflection should demonstrate analysis and synthesis of the discussion, along with the incorporation of personal thoughts and ideas. This reflection should aim to be 250-400 words (word count can be measured in Microsoft Word as an entire document or by highlighting a specific amount of text; word count is shown in the bottom left-hand corner of the program window).
  4. Inservice/Educational Outreach Programming Midterm Project
  5. 21 points total
    The goal of this assignment is to design an audio-visual in-service or educational outreach presentation that describes the role and scope of DROs. This project is intended to provide you with a reference script and a repository of slides that you can pull from and use in more robust audience-specific presentations (such as with faculty, students, and/or parents) wanting to know more about the DRO at your institution. Topics that should be covered in this assignment include:
    • The mission of the office (you may use your office’s current mission, or if your institution does not have one/you do not currently work in a DSO, research other offices and craft your own; make sure to credit all sources)
    • Legal reason(s) for having a DSO
    • Theoretical/philosophical underpinnings behind your DSO
    • Real-world approachable information on the general purpose of a DRO as it relates to various audiences (i.e. “what does this office mean in everyday life” to students/faculty/parents/etc.)
    A screen recording of a slide-deck presentation is strongly suggested for the format of this project.
  6. Professional Development Roadmap Plan
  7. 24 Points total
    The goal of this assignment is to identify areas of your professional practice that you wish to further develop and to create a 3–5-year roadmap to incorporate continuous professional development into your everyday practice. This plan should include:
    • Researching and identifying conferences, webinars, courses, publications, workshops, and/or organizations that provide opportunities for content engagement
    • Mapping out a schedule and strategy to incorporate time for professional development activities into your everyday work
    • Identifying potential resource needs (financial or otherwise) and developing a plan for justifying a request for resources, as well identifying potential avenues for securing resources
  8. Resource Contributions
  9. 2 points total
    Throughout the course, students should be pursuing, exploring, and engaging with additional relevant content external to what is provided in Canvas. To help share useful (and accurate) information (videos, websites, articles, etc.) with peers, a resource repository will be created within Canvas. Students are expected to contribute at least 2, non-duplicate resources to this “toolbox.”

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