Austin Community College District’s (ACC) Student Experience & Outcomes (SE&O) division is now an official Certified Neurodiverse Workplace (CNW).
Awarded by the International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards (IBCCES), the program is designed to help the division work effectively with neurodivergent team members and students, including those with autism, ADHD, dyslexia, and other neurodivergences.
“Adding this award to our collection of ACC achievements is a great honor. At ACC, we take pride in our unwavering commitment to supporting individuals from diverse backgrounds, including those who are neurodivergent,” says Dr. Monique Umphrey, ACC provost. “This recognition proves that we are wholeheartedly dedicated to honoring that commitment. ACC’s Student Experience & Outcomes division continues to lead the way. As the landscape of higher education evolves, ACC remains at the forefront, leading the way in adapting to these changes and serving all community members”
National data indicate individuals who are neurodivergent often face a higher risk of chronic unemployment or long-term underemployment. Recognizing this challenge, the SE&O Division has established unique programming and training to enhance student success, promote college completion, and facilitate equitable employment outcomes for student populations facing disproportionate barriers.
“This recognition from IBCCES highlights the dedication and hard work of the Student Experience & Outcomes division at Austin Community College. We firmly believe in the power of inclusivity and the immense potential of our neurodivergent students,” says Amber Kelley, ACC SE&O executive dean, “Through the CNW designation and our ongoing commitment to neurodiversity training, we are confident that our students will receive the support they need to thrive academically, personally, and professionally.”
[Kelley] continues, “The ACC Transformation Coaching and the ACC GROW student-worker program are two SE&O programs that are proving beneficial to our neurodivergent students. At ACC, transformation coaches apply their in-depth knowledge of specific populations, unique skill sets, and expertise to develop effective success strategies and provide specialized holistic coaching, training, and advocacy to improve students’ academic and life trajectories facing complex challenges.”
In an effort to foster inclusivity within the ACC GROW student-worker program, which includes the entire SE&O team, staff underwent neurodiversity training facilitated by the IBCCES. This comprehensive training equipped the staff with the knowledge and skills necessary to support neurodiverse students effectively.
Furthermore, more than 55 employees who supervise and coach student-workers attained the IBCCES Certified Neurodiversity Professional (CNP) certification. The impact of SE&O’s commitment to inclusivity for neurodiverse students extends across various departments. The division encompasses Student Government (SGA) & Civics Labs, Student Life, Transfer Services, Transformational Intervention Programming, Career Services, Employer Relations, student digital fluency training, and an intervention efficacy & impact research unit. By integrating neurodiversity principles throughout these areas, the SE&O team is now better prepared to provide personalized support to student workers and can utilize best practices in creating a more inclusive environment. The office is the first at the college to receive such a designation.
“IBCCES is incredibly proud to recognize Austin Community College’s SE&O division’s dedication to creating an inclusive and supportive environment for all students. With a growing number of people identifying as neurodivergent in today’s society, it is crucial that more organizations heed the call to prioritize inclusive practices and understanding,’ says Myron Pincomb, IBCCES board chairman. As an organization, IBCCES is honored to lead the charge in promoting neurodiversity, offering innovative programs that positively impact countless lives. Together, let us strive for a future where every individual, regardless of neurodivergence, is embraced and empowered to reach their full potential.”
For more than 20 years, IBCCES has been a leader in cognitive disorder training and certification for healthcare, education, and corporate professionals around the globe. IBCCES programs include evidence-based content and the perspectives of autistic individuals, alongside other resources, ongoing support, and renewal requirements to ensure continued learning and a lasting impact.