A Chicago district has developed a “Next Steps” team to aid families of students with disabilities in helping to prepare their student for adulthood.
“Next Steps” is a District 202 Vocational Education Team that assists parents and caregivers with planning, transitioning and advocating for their children with disabilities.
The Next Steps team aims to improve delivery of services to families of students with disabilities; increase family awareness of disability options and resources; and link families in need to agencies that can support them with issues related to transition.
Read more here.
A non-profit organization in Washington is filling a Transition niche for students with intellectual disabilities that also benefits the wider community.
Making the transition from school to the workplace can be hard for anyone. But for individuals living with intellectual disabilities, the shift can be especially difficult. To help ease the transition from student to employee, Morningside, a local non-profit specializing in disability services, provides three different programs designed to help special education students find the career path that’s right for them – before they even graduate.
Read about the three programs, Transition Program, Project Search and Work Experience Project here.
Janalyn Duersch knew as a teenager that she wanted to be a Special Education Teacher. She began her career as a staff assistant 22 years ago and after 4 years began her journey to pursue that dream. “I knew what I wanted to be when I was 14. My family friend was a special ed teacher at Logan High School and encouraged me to get a job as a staff assistant while I was in college so that I could garner experience. He helped me to get a job at Logan High. I did my degree at Utah State University and worked at Logan High simultaneously.”
Janalyn Duersch works n the Adult Transition Program in the Ogden School District in Ogden Utah.
Janalyn is a teacher in the Adult Transition Program in the Ogden School District in Ogden Utah where her primary job is teaching students with moderate-severe disabilities ages 18-22 in a community based post high school program. She determines student needs to create plans and instruction for independent living skills, vocational skills, post-secondary education, community skills, social skills, hygiene skills and functional academics. She also delivers instruction, advocates for and links students and their families with community agencies such as Vocational Rehabilitation, Division of Services for People with Disabilities and The Utah Independent Living Center. Janalyn supervises staff, completes requisite paperwork (“Oh so much paperwork!”), collaborates with agencies, coordinates and creates job placements with local businesses, teams with other teachers, collects and analyzes data and disseminates information to the community.
An Alabama school is providing postsecondary transition services for students with disabilities that bridge the gap between high school and college or independent living.
Horizons School was established in 1991 as an initiative of the UAB School of Education, the school is a non-degree transition program designed for students age 18 to 26 who have learning disabilities, autism and other mild handicapping conditions.
Based in Birmingham, it is the only program of its kind in the Southeast.
“When a student finishes their grade school education with either a high school diploma or a certificate of attendance but they don’t have the living skills they need for independence, there is nothing for them. That’s really frustrating because many of our students….are on the cusp of independence when they come but not quite ready to be on their own,” said assistant director Brian Geiger.
Classes taught at Horizons School range from social skills and money management to cooking, art and fitness. Advisors work closely with new students to help them set goals that will lead to greater independence as well as solve problems they encounter.
Over time, students begin to rely on others less and themselves more.
Read more here.
Horizons School website
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.
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.
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.
Bluegrass Community and Technical College (BCTC) has been approved to begin a Transition program for students with Intellectual Disabilities.
“The approval of BCTC’s Comprehensive Transition Program is a tremendous step forward in making higher education a reality for anyone, regardless of disability, who consider themselves lifelong learners,” said Barry Whaley, director of the Supported Higher Education Project at the University of Kentucky Human Development Institute. “We value our long-term partnership with BCTC, and we are committed to our continued work to make higher education inclusive and diverse.”
Read more here.
This article chronicles the activities of two Bismark High School Students who have visual impairments. The use of technology and the support of their teams at school enable them to successfully attend classes, get employment and plan for the future.
Bismarck High School seniors Amber Kraft and Cole Roberts are just like any other teenagers going off on their own, but with a characteristic they have proven does not define them — they are blind.
….Bismarck Public Schools teacher of the blind and visually impaired Brandi Trom-Anderson has helped teach Roberts and Kraft the skills they need inside and outside of the classroom since they were in preschool.
“Most of my students are scheduled in my room for one class period,” Anderson said. “During this time, I might preteach a tactile drawing they need for class; students may be introduced to a new Braille symbol for math; they may learn how to navigate a website using a screen reader called JAWS or we may even go to the kitchen and prepare a snack or meal. Students also practice independent mobility skills. One to two times a week they meet with the orientation and mobility specialist to learn how to be independent travelers whether they use their cane or the city bus. They learn to listen to traffic and safely cross streets.”
Roberts and Kraft can participate in class by using a BrailleNote that is like a computer with just a keyboard, and a laptop with a screen reader on it called JAWS. Teachers email or use Dropbox to send assignments or PowerPoints of the learning material.
Read the article here.