Office of Inclusive Services awarded National Program Accreditation

The Inclusive Higher Education Accreditation Council (IHEAC), an accrediting agency for postsecondary programs for students with intellectual disability (ID), announces the full accreditation of the Office of Inclusive Services (OIS) at the University of Colorado Colorado Springs (UCCS) for the next seven years.

OIS becomes the second inclusive postsecondary program in the United States to be accredited by the new council, led by the University of Rochester’s Center for Disability and Education.

“The Council is delighted to award accreditation to the OIS program and appreciates their willingness to be one of the first to undergo accreditation,” said Stephanie Smith Lee, IHEAC Board President. “The services and supports provided to ensure equitable and meaningful inclusion at the University are outstanding.”

In a letter to OIS notifying them of the accreditation decision, IHEAC Board Members highlighted several outstanding features of the program and the highly qualified staff:

  • The national model for Person Driven Planning developed by Christi Kasa, director of OIS, is utilized by students in the OIS program through a College and Career course. This innovative curriculum empowers students to direct their lives.
  • OIS at UCCS serves as a statewide model for inclusive higher education in Colorado, embodying the core principle of inclusion and advancing full inclusion on campus.
  • The OIS program staff exemplifies a strong commitment to supporting students with intellectual disability in meeting their college, career, and employment goals.
  • The program is a national model for the inclusion of students with intellectual disability, particularly those with high support needs and who utilize augmentative and alternative communication.

“The Office of Inclusive Services is proud to receive national accreditation from the Inclusive Higher Education Accreditation Council,” said Kasa. “Receiving accreditation is validation that the students we serve receive quality services and opportunities while they are students at the University of Colorado Colorado Springs. We are grateful to the community of supporters who make this work possible.”

Reflecting on the accreditation process, Kasa emphasized its role in reinforcing OIS’s commitment to inclusivity, making it a strong, Inclusive Post-Secondary Program.

She added, “We are honored to be a part of this vibrant and important community committed to
inclusiveness for all.”

Students enrolled in OIS work toward a Comprehensive Higher Education Certification, earn letter grades in their college courses with official transcripts, take two traditional college classes aligned with their career goals each semester, and engage in both on-campus and off-campus internships and work.

About the Inclusive Higher Education Accreditation Council

The Inclusive Higher Education Accreditation Council (IHEAC) is an independent, non-profit accreditation agency that accredits college programs serving students with intellectual disability. The IHEAC was launched in 2023 with pioneers in inclusive postsecondary education, all parents of people with intellectual disability. Madeleine Will, Stephanie Smith Lee, Elise McMillan, and Tom Sannicandro are the founding board of directors for the Council. Read more about this historic accomplishment in this Inside Higher Education article. Western Carolina University Participant Program was the inaugural program accredited by the Council in May 2023.

About the Center for Disability and Education at the Warner School of Education at the University of Rochester

The Center for Disability and Education has played a pivotal role in developing and implementing a national accreditation process for inclusive postsecondary education programs. In partnership with the Center, the National Coordinating Center (NCC) at Think College recently initiated the establishment of a national accreditation agency for inclusive higher education, the Inclusive Higher Education Accreditation Council (IHEAC). Learn about the Center for Disability and Education.