What is The Association of Higher Education and Disability?

The Association of Higher Education and Disability (or AHEAD) is a grand international network comprised of more than 2,800 member organizations located in countries like the United States, England, Canada, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, Greece, Japan, and many others. The purpose behind AHEAD is to help those tasked with developing policies that cater to those with disabilities. AHEAD provides extensive training for professionals who work in higher education institutions through a variety of means, including workshops and conferences, and various publications that help extend the influence of the network further than it would go otherwise.

AHEAD prides itself on the diversity of the entire network. The primary goal of the network is helping those with disabilities achieve equality in daily activities. AHEAD believes that participation by these individuals is key to a normal experience in higher education, and works to promote greater involvement.

A big part of what AHEAD does happens because of involvement by the governments behind each member. Without the support and continued  involvement from government bodies throughout the world, the network could not achieve what it does. That’s why AHEAD routinely discusses in an open forum different regulations that are instituted around the world. In the U.S., for example, AHEAD was able to comment on and influence the consequences of the ADAAA of 2008, which was passed in order to maintain previous laws passed ensuring that disabled Americans could not be discriminated against. When senate confirmation hearings began for Judge Sotomayor in 2009, AHEAD was there to put its two cents in and make sure that members inside of the network were informed of relevant news items.

Among the core values of AHEAD are diversity, wherein the platform helps foster more diverse communities inside of higher education institutions. Another is equity, wherein AHEAD strategically develops the resources needed for those with disabilities to achieve all they can. Respect is another, because everyone should be allowed to express individuality regardless of their differences. Lastly, the network promotes inclusivity, to ensure the participation of all who wish it.

Institutions and organizations like AHEAD help propel some of the world’s lesser represented individuals into the limelight, where they find the support they need to excel in a world that sometimes seems out to get them. Even so, the success or failure of such networks is limited because so many people aren’t aware they exist–and many others don’t seem to care. AHEAD will continue to fight the good fight for the foreseeable future.