Jenna Heffron

Assistant Professor, Occupational Therapy
Office: Smiddy Hall, Ithaca, NY 14850
Speciality: Critical Occupational Therapy, Disability Studies Applications Within Occupational Therapy, Participatory Action Research, Qualitative Research Methods, School-Based Practice

Jenna Heffron holds a PhD in Disability Studies from the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) and a Master's degree in Occupational Therapy from Quinnipiac University.  She has practice experience as a school-based occupational therapist; her research and teaching interests include community participation, intersections of disability and healthcare professional identities, curriculum design and development, and the integration of social justice and disability studies approaches into OT professional education.

Dr. Heffron was a 2013-2014 Albert Schweitzer Fellow and is active within the disability community.  In collaboration with other disability community members, she has developed and implemented disability awareness curricula to educate students and healthcare professionals about disability identity, culture, and sociopolitical factors impacting the disability experience.  As part of her dissertation research, Dr. Heffron used a participatory action research (PAR) approach to examine and address the extent to which disability community priorities are represented in occupational therapy educational curricula. 

At Ithaca College, Dr. Heffron teaches courses related to individual-, group-, and population-level practice, disability culture, occupational science, community-based practice, and applied research in occupational therapy.  Her current research projects include qualitative studies of: (1) experiences of occupational therapy practitioners with disabilities; (2) the impact of a disability studies immersion on student and new practitioner perspectives of disability; and (3) reflections and perceptions of professional progress of expert disability and occupational therapy scholars.


Sheth, A. J., Kish, J., VanPuymbrouck, L. H., Heffron, J.L., Lee, D., & Mahaffey, L. (2021, in press). “A legitimate place in the profession”: Author reflections on the 2005 disability studies special issue. American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 75(4).

Heffron, J., & Johnson, C. (in press). Spreading our wings, seeing our strengths: Creating and using learning journals: Amena 2nd grade case, occupational profile, client report, and group protocol. In B. Egan & S. Cahill (Eds.), Occupational therapy and school mental health: Group activities for promotion, prevention, and intervention. Thorofare, NJ: SLACK.

Johnson, C., & Heffron, J. (in press). I feel empowered: Providing opportunities for self-determination through participation in IEP conferences: Amena 10th grade case, occupational profile, client report, group protocol, and supplemental materials. In B. Egan & S. Cahill (Eds.), Occupational therapy and school mental health: Group activities for promotion, prevention, and intervention. Thorofare, NJ: SLACK.

VanPuymbrouck, L, & Heffron, J. (2020, March 24). Practice what we teach: Higher ed needs universal design for all students. Thrive Global.

Hammel, J., Jordan Sheth, A., & Heffron, J. (2020). Peer mentoring and support. In K. Bryze (Ed.), Occupational therapy for adults with intellectual disabilities (pp. 161-171). Thorofare, NJ: SLACK.

Heffron, J.L., Van Puymbrouck, L., Lee, D., Kish, J., & Sheth, A. (2019). "The bigger picture": Occupational therapy practitioners' perspectives on disability studies. American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 73(2).

Lee, D.,  Heffron, J. L., & Mirza, M. (2019). Content and effectiveness of interventions focusing on community participation after stroke: A systematic review. Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. doi: 10.1016/j.apmr.2019.06.008.

Heffron, J.L., Spassiani, N., Angell, A., & Hammel, J. (2018). Using photovoice as a participatory method to identify and strategize community participation with people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Scandinavian Journal of Occupational Therapy.

Heffron, J. (2018). Activities of daily living. In T. Heller, S. Parker-Harris, C. Gill, & R. Gould (Eds.), Disability in American life: An encyclopedia of concepts, policies, and controversies. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO.

Hammel, J., Smith, J., Heffron, J., Jordan Sheth, A., & Knisely, M. (2017). Study of rental housing discrimination on the basis of mental disabilities: Short paper 5. Rental housing access & discrimination experienced by people with mental disabilities. U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Office of Policy Development and Research.…

Van Puymbrouck, L., Heffron, J. L., Sheth, A., The, K., & Lee, D. (2017). Experiential learning: Critical analysis of standardized patient and disability simulation. Journal of Occupational Therapy Education, 1(3), Art. 5.

Hammel, J., Lee, D., Heffron, J., & Meskin, K. (2017). Self-determination and self-management. In M.. Law, C. Baum, & W. Dunn (Eds.), Measuring occupational performance: Supporting best practice in occupational therapy (3rd ed). Thorofale, NJ: SLACK Incorporated.