Advocacy by and for People with ABI (Acquired Brain Injury)
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Post-Secondary Brain Injury (B. I.) Program Recommendations
These program recommendations are for service providers conducting post-secondary educational programs for adult students with cognitive challenges that have resulted from traumatic brain injury, acquired brain injury and other causes. (Published 2006.)
We would like all chancellors, universities, colleges, state-wide college networks, AHEAD (the Association on Higher Education and Disability), the California Community Colleges Chancellor's Office and CAPED (the California Association for Post-Secondary Education and Disability) to take the following actions and instigate appropriate procedures for students with brain injuries in all colleges under their jurisdiction, direction, influence or control.
1.Create system wide protocols regarding adult college students with cognitive challenges for all of the colleges under your jurisdiction, influence, direction or control.
2.Incorporate all of the recommendations in The Cautionary Tale for the Santa Rosa Junior College into the system wide cognitive disability protocols for all of the colleges under your jurisdiction, influence, direction or control.
3. Set up a handbook of applicable procedures for dealing with adults with cognitive challenges who attend college. That way administrators who may not have had sufficient training in how to administer programs for students with cognitive challenges will have procedures to look to. That way inexperienced and experienced classroom instructors will have procedures to look to. The team of persons who put the handbook together should include persons with extensive experience and credentials in rehabilitation of persons with cognitive challenges.
4.Train college staff to report any evidence of criminal victimization of their students with cognitive challenges to the authorities. Remove any staff persons who do not comport with the law on this issue.
5.Create college procedures for working with law enforcement in local communities when a crime is alleged to have been committed against a student with cognitive challenges.
6.Establish internal administrative procedures whereby a staff person, student, or volunteer who has victimized a cognitively challenged student can be expelled from the College.
7.Seek rehabilitation accreditation commission accreditation for all college programs for students with brain injuries. In lieu of this, state-wide college networks, Chancellor's Offices and/or AHEAD or CAPED could work to create their own accreditation standards for programs providing instruction to students with cognitive challenges on campus. If there is are master state educational plans that covers this area, disseminate the information. Improve said plans. Incorporate these ideas.
8.Refer to college students with brain injuries as students with brain injuries. Anybody with sensitivity that is in the field knows that it is politically incorrect to refer to people as brain injured people or braindamaged people and by extension, brain injured students. Persons with a disability are just that, persons with a disability.
9.Do not indiscriminately refer people to programs that you have not checked out. One of the problems with the Internet is that, in an effort to be helpful, but also to score highly in search engine rankings, to be seen, so to speak, many webmasters put everyone else that they can think of who is in their field in their website resource pages. The more websites refer to each other, the higher they rank. But what do you really know about these other agencies you are listing? How do you know that they are safe or good contacts? So, be careful whom you recommend on your website resource pages, or at least qualify your recommendations. The opposite problem can also happen, which is that a reputable entity is listed in the resource list of a less than stellar outfit, thus giving a degree of perhaps undeserved legitimacy to the listing entity. We wish there were a way to put a stop to that practice.
10.Make no mistake about it; any college club for students with cognitive disabilities must be considered an element of the college disability program. Said clubs must maintain stringent standards with college oversight and accountability. No college should be able to claim, on the one had, that a club for students with brain injuries is their model program, but when things go wrong, be able to claim that the club is just a student activity over which the college has no control. Colleges must be accountable and must take swift action if there are problems in their clubs for students with acquired brain injuries.
11.If professionals in AHEAD and CAPED who serve students with disabilities in post secondary college programs want to continue to be self regulating, they should at least be held accountable under some internal policing mechanism. AHEAD and CAPED should develop and publish their own Code of Ethics along the lines of the American Speech Language-Hearing Association's Code. AHEAD and CAPED should have a Board of Ethics. They should post a procedure for filing a complaint on their websites. The California Speech-Language Hearing Association even posts an actual consumer complaint form on its website.
12.Please join BIN in campaigning for a state law that mandates that college level personal and trustees be required to report suspected criminal conduct or abuse against college students with cognitive challenges to local criminal authorities. K through 12 teachers are required to make such reports. We have discovered that this law needs to be extended through the college level.
This is why BIN is requesting passage of a law in California ordering that college level personal (staff, administrators, counselors, employees, trustees) be required to report any criminal conduct arising out of club activities to criminal authorities. If there is a gray area as to whether a reported or suspected activity is a club activity, the presumption should be made to protect the adult who is cognitively fragile, i.e. triggering the reporting requirement. No college personnel or college legal department should ever be allowed to conclude that conduct involving two students in a college club that relates directly to club activities is private conduct, and therefore out of the reporting sphere of the college. Further, when college personnel have reason to suspect criminal conduct outside of the club but on campus, or even off campus and totally unrelated to the college, against any of their students with cognitive challenges (gleaned through counseling sessions, etc.) they must be required to report that information to criminal authorities for further investigation and action.
The duty to report must be made abundantly clear in the legislation, and in the governance training for all California college boards of trustees. Additionally, this reporting requirement should be made clear to all college level staff, educators, counselors, and other college employees. There must also be disciplinary procedures in the law for colleges or individuals at college who fail to report criminal conduct to the criminal authorities. See further under "mandated reporters".