ADA Celebrates 24th Anniversary

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.

Ohio Program Provides Bridge to Employment

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.

EnvisionIT – A Transition Curriculum for Students with Disabilities

This curriculum comes from the Nisonger Centers Transitions Team at Ohio State University.

Graduation Requirements Controversy for IEP Students

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.

 

While many students with disabilities enter college, keeping them there is another story….

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.

 

Aggies Elevated Program Accepts Students Into First Cohort

A new program for students with developmental and intellectual disabilities at Utah State University,  Aggies Elevated,  has accepted its first cohort for the Fall of 2014.

The Aggies Elevated program was created with young adult learners in mind by experts in the fields of disability and special education at USU’s Emma Eccles Jones College of Education and Human Services.

Our supportive and inclusive environment is close to home, yet far enough away to give young adults with intellectual or other disabilities the opportunity to learn and grow while participating in all the activities that a traditional residential campus has to offer.

Students in the new program will develop academic and independent living skills and will engage in career exploration, work internship, vocational electives, and personal growth through coursework tailored to each individual. Part of each student’s plan will also include  community-based work internships.

Add Huntington University to the list of growing partners to Think College!

The Think College! movement continues to grow[embed.  Huntington University in Indiana is joining the initiative.

Huntington University is partnering with the Huntington County Community School Corporation (HCCSC) to give students with intellectual disabilities a chance to participate in college life and to obtain hands-on work experience before they transition full time into their communities.

Huntington University’s Think College program, called “ABLE” (Achieving Balance in Life Through Education) will welcome six high school students to campus this fall.

“One of the hallmarks of a residential college is that students learn from each other there,” said Dr. Del Doughty, interim vice president for academic affairs at HU. “By adding the students of Think College to our campus, we will fulfill that expectation in a new way and at a deeper level, perhaps, than we ever have before.”

The Indiana Partnership for Post-Secondary Education and Careers, through Indiana University, has created the program on various Indiana campuses through the support of the Indiana Institute on Disability and Community. This is the fourth campus in the state to house the program.

Read more here.

Unified Sports Program Provides Skills for Life

A new program in Utah, the Unified Sports Program, is helping students with intellectual disabilities develop skills that will lead to better employment and and independent living (Deseret News, May 3, 2014).

Special Olympics Utah and the Utah High School Activities Association partnered to initiate the [Unified Sports] program in Utah this year, assisting schools in ensuring that students with disabilities have access to extracurricular sports — a recommendation from the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights in January 2013.

Intellectually disabled students are apparently five times as likely to be employed after high school if they have actively participated in Special Olympics activities, said Special Olympics CEO Amy Hansen, who called it a “landmark opportunity” for the students. She said the disabled participants also live an average of five years longer when they’ve had the interactive experience.

“It helps them learn life skills that empower them throughout their lives,” Hansen said.

Read the article here.

Film Highlights the Importance of Employment

The ARC of Monmouth (New Jersey) has created a film called “Believe And You Can Achieve” about the importance of employment for people with developmental disabilities.  This professionally made film stars the young adults being featured in the film and features their support teams who highlight the successes of their employment.

 

Work Study Transition Program for Students with Disabilities

Howard County Public School System in Maryland has a work study  program that provides opportunities for students with disabilities at all levels who are certificate-bound.

At 19, Craig Knill has a varied work experience. Over the past four years, he has worked for libraries, at bookstores as a custodian and as a clerical worker in the offices of the Howard County Council.

It’s all part of a work-study transition program through the Howard County Public School System and numerous community partners that helps prepare students such as Knill, a senior at Glenelg High School, for life after school.

The work-study transition program is for students with disabilities, from the mild to the profound, whether they’re bound for a diploma or a certificate of completion, said Dawson Robertson, program head for work study and lead transition coordinator for the Howard County Public School System.

“This is providing students with disabilities the opportunity to transition to adult life, about lifting barriers,” he said.