A transition program in Washington state is providing opportunities for students with disabilities in their transition years after high school with great success.
When it comes to school-to-work programs, Mike Etzell and Diane Fesler have a unique perspective.
Etzell and Fesler both work with students ages 18 to 21 with developmental disabilities, helping them to transition into the workforce.
“We’re investing in all of those students going to school, and why would we stop after kids with special needs graduate?” Etzell said.
Etzell and Fesler work with community partners to give jobs or internships to their students to help get them slowly acclimated to post-high school life during those transition years. Sometimes their students can work as little as two hours a week at a job, learning how to adjust to the adult world, with job coaches who help them through the adjustment.
Their mantra is “Jobs by June,” and they plan to work with their students throughout the year to get them ready for that.
Read more here.
An Ohio organization that provides support to people with developmental disabilities, The Employment Connection (TEC), held a summer camp for high school students to help prepare them for work.
TEC recently wrapped up its summer program in which a group of high school students with developmental disabilities was able to participate in the Summer Youth Employment Program.
According to TEC, summer youth work experiences are utilized to help teach high school students vocational skills and appropriate work behaviors through career exploration and work experiences. The goal of the program is to prepare the individual for permanent employment and independence.
TEC offered a five-week program for these young men and women during the summer to teach them work skills and to help them develop a work history.
The Sioux City (Iowa) School District has approved a program that will enable students with learning disabilities the opportunity for a fifth year of high school to transition to college and career.
Eight Sioux City high school students will attend classes at Western Iowa Tech Community College when the new semester begins next week.
Throughout the year, the students, who are between 17 and 21 and have learning disabilities, will have the opportunity to expand their education and career skills through a program that offers a fifth year of high school.
The Students Utilizing Community College Educational Support Services (SUCCESS) Program, a joint effort with WITCC and Northwest Area Education Agency (AEA) was unanimously approved by both the Sioux City schools and WITCC boards on Monday.
The program gives students additional living and learning experience, said Jean Peters, director of learning supports for the Sioux City Community School District.
Read more here.
A Georgia School District’s transition program for students with disabilities is offering training for the workforce by creating partnerships with area businesses.
Project SEARCH is a school-to-work transition program for special needs students who are at least 18 years old and have completed the requirements to graduate. The program is funded by the Bartow County School System and partners with Cartersville Medical Center to facilitate the training experience for students who need to learn the skills necessary for entry-level positions in the community.
One of the biggest goals for the program is to educate the community regarding Project SEARCH and how it can support local businesses. The program points to its 100 percent job placement for last year’s nine students as evidence of its positive impact.
Another area of focus for Kristy Mitchell, Project SEARCH instructor, is aiding students with transportation needs. While students are in the program, they will be transported to Cartersville Medical Center by Bartow County buses. However, once they complete the program and begin to look for employment Mitchell believes the inability to drive may present a problem for students.
Abilitypath.org, an advocacy organization for parents and professionals of students with special needs, has released a new transition guide from high school,The Journey to Life after High School: A Road Map for Parents of Children with Special Needs.
….in an effort to ease the transition from high school to adulthood for children with special needs, this comprehensive guide examines the laws that impact a child with special needs, the importance of the individualized education plan, and the different paths a child with special needs can take after graduating from high school. “The Journey to Life after High School” not only provides the steps that need to be taken prior to graduation but also the preparation required for the new adult’s legal and medical rights. All of this culminates in a national state-by-state agency guide.
The third in a series of groundbreaking reports released by Abilitypath.org, “The Journey to Life after High School” is a tool to chart a child’s transition into adulthood. The guide gives an overview of what lies ahead and contains a detailed list of resources for where to go for support.
By treating the transition as a long-term process beginning in middle school, “The Journey to Life after High School” creates a road map for parents that will help organize the work and properly frame the expectations for this time.
The report can be downloaded for free by going to: http://bit.ly/WMbbPM
Read more here.
Read the NPR article here.
Independence was celebrated in many ways during July. People with Disabilities and supporters celebrated the anniversary of a law that has provided more opportunities for independence in their lives.
This month marks the 24th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
On July 26th 1990, President George H.W. Bush signed the Americans with Disabilities Act into law. The ADA, he declared, was “. . .the world’s first comprehensive declaration of equality for people with disabilities.” Its impact was monumental. From employment and transportation, to government services and telecommunications, the ADA promised equal access and equal opportunity for people with disabilities from all walks of life.
For twenty-four years the ADA has ensured people with disabilities protection from employment discrimination, equal access to public places like schools, businesses, and government buildings, and access to communications technology enabling the free transmission of ideas and information. And as a result, more people with disabilities than ever are able to achieve their potential. In the words of Bob Williams, former Associate Commissioner for Social Security’s Office of Employment Support Programs, “The Americans with Disabilities Act works.” Mr. Williams was a leader in the fight to pass the ADA and witnessed the signing ceremony.
Read the article here.
An Ohio organization has created a 6 week program called “Bridges” that provides a sampling of employment experiences for young people with developmental disabilities.
The Scioto County Board of Developmental Disabilities (SCBDD) Bridges program held a graduation ceremony for 10 participants of the six-week program on July 25 at the Vocation Station.
Bridges assists under-served areas of the state in developing employment services for youth with developmental disabilities as they transition from school to employment. The students participate in job shadowing, job coaching and a variety of educational opportunities to help them achieve their employment goals.
The overall goal of the project is to enhance career exploration options and increase employment outcomes by developing a collaborative network of services that will assist students in achieving their employment goals.
Read the article here.
This curriculum comes from the Nisonger Centers Transitions Team at Ohio State University.
Will this help or harm students with disabilities?
A graduation conundrum for students with disabilities
….Louisiana — a hotbed of American education reform — seems about to give its IEP teams the power to decide what students with disabilities need to graduate from high school. …. Christina A. Samuels now covers special education for Education Week and has written an eye-opening account of the battle being waged over this move.
Supporters of the Louisiana measure, unanimously approved by both houses of the state legislature, say “it could improve the state’s dismal record of graduating students with disabilities in four years with a standard diploma,” Samuels reported. “In 2011-12, the most recent year for which statistics are available, the four-year graduation rate for those students was 33 percent, compared to 72 percent for the general student population.”
The education officials and legislators in Louisiana believe that giving IEP teams the power over graduation requirements will narrow those gaps and give students with disabilities a better chance to find employment. But many advocates for children with disabilities — in Louisiana and nationally — say this would unnecessarily and harmfully lower standards for students with disabilities. The Louisiana state school superintendent endorsed the bill only after its sponsors agreed that the IEP teams could decide graduation requirements only if the student failed the annual state exams that are required for graduation.
Read more here.
There are many success stories about students with disabilities attending college. But there is still much work to do. This article addresses barriers to staying in college for students with disabilities.
Why Are Huge Numbers of Disabled Students Dropping Out of College?
….an estimated 60% of disabled young adults make it to college after high school, yet nearly two thirds are unable to complete their degrees within six years. Is this the fault of their disabilities, or is something more complex at play? The testimony of disabled students suggests that the problem lies not with their disabilities, per se, but with the numerous barriers they encounter in higher education, from failing to provide blind students with readers, to the refusal to accommodate wheelchair users in otherwise accessible classrooms.
….What can be done to improve conditions for disabled students in the United States? How do we create a more welcoming, sustainable educational environment for them? Two things are key: promoting a proud self-advocacy culture, and reforming institutional attitudes about disability.
Read the article here.