Helping students with disabilities better transition from school to careers

Posted on Tuesday, 5/21/2013 5:19 PM

Students with disabilities deserve access to high-quality education just as much as their non-disabled peers. While opportunities in and outside of school for those with disabilities are not always easy to come by, there are people who believe in these individuals and the positive contributions they can make to society.

Positive change
No one wants to see students with disabilities fall behind in their schooling and miss their chance to become as prepared for college and the workforce as their non-disabled classmates. To prevent this from occurring, officials from the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services and the U.S. Department of Labor's Office of Disability Employment Policy are collaborating on ways to prepare these individuals for the challenges that await them, according to the U.S. Department of Education's blog.

"While in school, students with disabilities must be held to high expectations, participate in the general curriculum, be exposed to rigorous coursework, and have meaningful and relevant transition goals and services aligned to college- and career-ready standards," Michael Yudin, the acting assistant secretary of education for special education and rehabilitative services, wrote in the blog.

To create better opportunities for students with disabilities, the U.S. Department of Education, with help from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Social Security Administration, is holding a national online dialogue. Similar in design to a "virtual town hall," the dialogue encourages the public to provide insight into what does and does not help students with disabilities transition from school to the workforce. To date, more than 2,000 people have joined the dialogue, which began on May 13 and will conclude on May 27.

"We know that we cannot do this alone," Yudin wrote. "To bring about lasting change, we need educators, service providers, disability advocates, policymakers and youth with disabilities and their families to provide input."

Success is possible
While students with disabilities often face challenges over the course of their academic careers, this does not mean they cannot persevere and go on to earn one or more college degrees.

The National Center for Education Statistics states that during the 2003-2004 and 2007-2008 academic years, 11 percent of undergraduates had a disability. The conditions students had varied from deafness to learning disabilities. What matters is that these degree seekers did not let their disabilities stand between them and their educational goals.

Support from Washington
Despite whatever challenges students with disabilities face when transitioning from school to the workforce, they have allies in the nation's capital. According to the White House's website, President Barack Obama believes that disabled individuals must be further integrated into society.

Furthermore, Obama has urged the Federal Government to hire 100,000 more workers with disabilities by 2015, according to the U.S. Department of Education's blog. With so much support in the country for students with disabilities, these individuals should know they have help overcoming whatever challenges they face.


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