2003 Conference Proceedings

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Successful Transitions to Postsecondary Education and Challenging Careers for Students with Disabilities.

Michael Richardson
Coordinator, CAREERS K-12, DO-IT, University of Washington
Email: mike67@u.washington.edu

Sheryl Burgstahler, Ph.D.
Director, DO-IT, University of Washington
Email: sherylb@cac.washington.edu

Individuals with disabilities are underrepresented in postsecondary education and careers when compared to individuals without disabilities. Although laws and policies have improved access to learning and employment opportunities for individuals with disabilities, postsecondary and employment outcomes remain poor. Barriers to post-secondary education and employment include lack of adequate support systems; little access to successful role models; low expectations on the part of people with whom they interact; and lack of access to facilities, programs and equipment.

However, computing technology can have a positive effect on all of these factors. In order for students to prepare for college and challenging careers they must begin to use computing tools at a young age. These tools can help them access resources, communicate with others, perform academic tasks independently, and participate in work-based learning experiences. The importance of the availability of adaptive technologies for individuals with disabilities cannot be over-estimated. Such tools are required if individuals with disabilities are to compete with their non-disabled peers. Additionally, the ability to control technological tools can level the playing field in learning and working situations.

Lecture, video presentation and discussion will be used to present literature, resources and strategies that can be used to help high school students with a wide range of disabilities successfully transition to post-secondary education and challenging careers. Such strategies include the development of self-advocacy and self-management skills, and participation in mentoring relationships and work-based learning experiences. Practical examples from DO-IT, at the University of Washington will be shared. DO-IT, primarily funded by the National Science Foundation, the U.S. Department of Education and the State of Washington, serves to increase the success of people with disabilities, especially in fields where they have been traditionally underrepresented, such as science, engineering, mathematics and technology. DO-IT uses technology to maximize the independence, productivity and participation of students with disabilities in academic programs and careers.

DO-IT works with high school teachers, post-secondary faculty, and employers to make programs and resources fully accessible to people with disabilities. DO-IT also helps people with disabilities:

DO-IT activities include:

By the end of this session participants will be able to:

  1. Identify skills needed for successful transitions to post-secondary education and careers for students with disabilities.
  2. Discuss the role of technology for students with disabilities pursuing post-secondary education and work experiences.
  3. Demonstrate knowledge of available educational strategies, materials, and resources that can be used to facilitate successful college preparation and work-based learning experiences for students with disabilities.

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