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Moving on Up: Transitioning Children with Disabilities from High School to College and Beyond

As high school draws to a close, the excitement of entering a new phase of life often comes hand in hand with uncertainty, particularly for children with disabilities and their families. The transition from high school to college or job placement can be both exhilarating and challenging, requiring careful planning, support, and access to resources. In this blog post, we explore the journey of children with disabilities as they navigate post-secondary education or employment, and the services available to assist them in this significant transition.

Understanding the Transition Process

For children with disabilities, the transition from high school to college or job placement involves several key considerations:

1. Identifying Goals: It's essential to identify the individual goals and aspirations of the student. Whether pursuing higher education or entering the workforce, understanding personal interests and strengths is crucial. Setting goals that will help move your child along in the transition process is a crucial part of the students current IEP process.

2. Navigating Support Services: Students with disabilities may require accommodations and support services to succeed in college or employment. Understanding the available resources and how to access them is vital for a smooth transition. These guides and assessments, help teachers and caregivers understand what accommodations a child might need to succeed

3. Advocacy and Self-Advocacy: Encouraging self-advocacy skills empowers students to effectively communicate their needs and navigate challenges independently. Additionally, parents and caregivers may need to advocate on behalf of their child to ensure access to necessary services and accommodations.

Transition Services and Planning

High schools are required to provide transition services to students with disabilities as part of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). These services aim to support students in achieving their post-secondary goals and may include:

- Transition Planning: Individualized transition plans (ITPs) are developed to outline goals, services, and activities to support the student's transition to adulthood. This plan is crafted collaboratively with input from the student, parents, educators, and relevant professionals. on the federal level OSERS and NTACT:C ,both provide transition assistance to those starting and even further along on their transition journey. In New York, NYSED and OPWDD both offer transition assistance.

- Vocational Training and Work Experience: High schools often offer vocational training programs and opportunities for students to gain work experience through internships, job shadowing, or part-time employment. These experiences help students explore career interests and develop valuable skills for the workforce. The OSEP Partnership here in NY, also offers assistance in post school preparation. similar programs are available throughout the 50 states.

- College Preparation: For students pursuing higher education, guidance counselors and special education professionals can provide assistance with college selection, application processes, and securing accommodations through disability support services offices.

student studying with headphones to hear audio ext

Services and Accommodations in College

Upon entering college, students with disabilities are entitled to reasonable accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. Common accommodations include:

- Extended Time on Exams: Students may receive additional time to complete exams or assignments.

- Accessible Materials: Access to textbooks, course materials, and technology in alternative formats, such as audio or electronic text.

- Note-taking Support: Access to lecture notes, peer note-takers, or recording devices.

- Accessible Facilities: Ensuring physical accessibility to classrooms, labs, and other campus facilities.

Colleges and universities typically have disability support services offices staffed with professionals who coordinate accommodations and provide support to students with disabilities throughout their academic journey.

young adult cutting wood at work

Job Placement and Support

For students transitioning directly into the workforce, various programs and services exist to facilitate job placement and career development:

- Vocational Rehabilitation Services: State vocational rehabilitation agencies offer counseling, job training, assistive technology, and other support services to individuals with disabilities seeking employment. In NY, ACCES-VR, assists young adults with job placements among various vocations.

- Job Coaching and Support: Some organizations provide job coaching and support services to help individuals with disabilities develop job skills, navigate workplace challenges, and achieve success in their chosen careers.

- Workplace Accommodations: Employers are required to provide reasonable accommodations to employees with disabilities under the ADA. These accommodations may include modified work schedules, adaptive equipment, or alterations to job duties.

The transition from high school to college or job placement is a significant milestone for children with disabilities and their families. Through careful planning, access to support services, and collaboration among educators, parents, and community resources, students can successfully navigate this transition and pursue their academic and career goals. By fostering self-advocacy skills, promoting inclusivity, and ensuring access to necessary accommodations, we can empower individuals with disabilities to thrive in their chosen paths beyond high school.

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