What does high school graduation mean for students who have a visual impairment or blindness?
You are ready to move on to an institute of higher learning like a technical school, college, or university. Or you may be ready to enter the workforce. In addition, you may be ready to move out on your own. There are a lot of options but don’t worry, there is help along the way!
You should already have a transition plan in place. By federal statute, the first transition meeting should have occurred by age sixteen. Individualized Education Program (IEP) teams develop transition plans, sometimes called Individualized Transition Plans (ITP), to help teens with disabilities set and reach goals from high school into adulthood. So, if you have not had a transition meeting, it is important to contact the school district in your community. And remember, you don’t have to stick with the path you chose when you were sixteen.
If you are not satisfied with the transition plan or feel unprepared and need more resources, that’s okay! Call a final IEP/transition meeting to discuss your main concerns.
Colleges, universities, and technical programs must provide reasonable accommodation. The only difference is you no longer need an IEP; you’re now your own advocate. Thankfully, the law is on your side. Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) were created to ensure that all persons have equal access to public and private opportunities like furthering one’s education.
You don’t need to notify the higher learning institution of your disability when applying to the school/program. But, if you are expecting equal access to programs, or assistance to accommodate equality once enrolled in an institute of higher learning, you must notify them of the need and the nature of your disability.
Technical institutes and trade programs are also options. Typically, these educational programs take less time to complete than a traditional four-year college. Their courses often focus on a specific trade or set of skills. Accommodations are required for equal access to the program and should be requested before beginning classes or coursework.
Ready to get a jump on your career? Joining the workforce after graduation is another common option that might be right for you. If you’re interested in a specific company or role, do some research. Further digging can reveal a company or position that aligns with your goals and values. And don’t be afraid to ask others to help with the research. Counselors, family, and friends may provide valuable insight or have a helpful contact. On-the-job training is available and appealing for many recent graduates. By law, employers must also provide reasonable accommodation to their employees. The Job Accommodation Network is an excellent resource for both employers and employees.
Finding the path that is right for you can take some time. Graduates with blindness can contact a local resource like Lighthouse for the Blind or the Division of Blind Services. These services are a great way to explore the possibilities for your future.
No matter what path you choose, it is never too late to start again, nor too early to venture out on your own. Remember that every person has value and can add value. There is a whole world of options out there waiting for you. Best of luck in your search!
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