Attorney Desiree Klemm-Kafel currently serves at the Assistant Director of Disability Resources at Washington University in St. Louis.
Desiree is a licensed attorney and has worked in an ADA/504 compliance-based role, specifically, higher education disability services, for over eight years. During her years in higher education, she has served in multiple institutional settings including a public community college, mid-size public university, large public university, and mid-size private university. In her current role, Desiree services as the Assistant Director of Disability Resources at Washington University in St. Louis. Desiree is experienced in reviewing disability documentation and assessing and evaluating specific access barriers in the university environment that necessitate reasonable accommodations. Currently, Desiree primarily works with the school of law in both academic accommodations but also preparation for licensing exams and the accommodation process. She also educates and supervises Access Coordinators on methodical approaches to objective accommodation determinations and how to articulate clear justifications for supported and unsupported requests. She regularly engages in negotiations, the interactive process, and difficult conversations with varying campus constituents including students, parents, faculty, and staff. In addition, she assists in interpreting governing guidance and required standards (e.g. ABA standards) when conducting analyses of complex ADA/504 issues as well as writing and advising on related policies, processes, and procedures. She is also a promoter of inclusive an accessible practice to campus faculty, staff, administration, and student organizations to ensure students with disabilities feel a sense of belonging on our college campuses.
Desiree has also presented at student affairs professional conferences on topics related to disability in higher education including assessing fundamental alteration, functional limitation and associated accommodation, and practices/teaching methods that create inclusive and accessible educational environments.
Outside of her higher education role, she works with limited income clients on a pro bono basis in general areas of law. She also collaborates with peers at varying institutions when specific advice, recommendations, or analysis is needed for potential ADA/504 discrimination claims to assist with anticipated corrective actions. Lastly, Desiree also conducts independent 3rd party reviews of university/college disability programs to assess/evaluate processes, procedures, and administration of the programs.
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