Transition for Students With Severe Disabilities Term Paper

Excerpt from Term Paper :

Instructional strategies for transitioning students with disabilities from high school to post-High school vocational programs.

Like all young people, students with disabilities want to go out in life and make a career and learn skills, which are necessary for their future use. Some students with disabilities have a strong desire to attend college or a vocational school and some want to operate independently in the community. Most of these students with disabilities work either in paid or subsidized jobs and this is the reason they need to learn, especially in the high school to be prepared for his or her adult life. Transition services are thus services, which help the students to prepare for their future work and devise strategies and learning skills to cope up with the coming challenges. These services allow the students to identify and increase the scope of their skills as they will need to pursue in real practical life. To achieve this, teachers and academicians are responsible for transitioning these students from one level of competency to the next. In the following literature review the author will enumerate on the transitional strategies that are available for students with disabilities.

Literature review

Post-high school activities can include more education (like community colleges, four-year universities, trade schools and technical schools); vocational training, continuing adult education, adult services and other related programs. The most important aspect of transitional services is instructions and teachings; the related services of community experiences and the development of employment skills and other post-school adult living objects are important part of the transitional services. When appropriate, transition services should also include activities to help the students acquire daily living skills, and include functional vocational evaluation. "For example, if a student with a disability will be living in a group home and participating in supportive employment, he or she may need to be taught activities of daily living, job skills, use of public transportation or the ability to handle money or to go to the store" [Education Law Center, 1999].

A good transition planning for the disabled students includes diverse teaching practices and instructional strategies, which help students not only to be self-confident but also teach them the basic skills in order to handle the basic situation in life. These young people who are preparing to enter into adult life have the right to vocalize their rights as citizens as well as individuals undergoing social development. To achieve that, there must exist a transition planning process that takes them from one level to the next; from public school to college level and from college to practical application of their skills. According to the National Council of Disability [2000] "Young adults with disabilities who are effective self-advocates understand their disabilities, the impact of the disabilities on their daily lives and the supports that they need to be successful in school, employment and in the community." Some of these advocacy strategies include the build up of self-confidence and advocacy skills by polishing on their public communication skills. However, this can only be achieved if there is a standardized testing procedure to test their aptitudes, preferences and abilities and whether they are capable of use their educational qualifications in real life. The National Council on Disability also indicate that the complex transition process utilize complex administrative procedures where all stakeholders including parents, schools, colleges, policy makers and the students themselves must be involved. In designing such a model any institution will have to look at the strategy for transitioning these disabled students to the post high school level from all aspects as "the students and young people are faced with complex challenges of the transition process of these unique individuals and their unique needs pose a major challenge to parents, practitioners, administrators and policy makers" [National Council on Disability, 2000].

To identify the best instructional and teaching practices for youth with disabilities, Clark and Stewart venture out to conduct a national survey of about 250 programs designed transition students [1992]. According to this survey there are six major theoretical backgrounds that could be used to integrate into the transition programs for the disabled students. Clark and Stewart concentrate on the person centered planning, which is driven by the young person's interests, strengths, cultural and familial values. It is also called the transition to independence process. This program concentrates on the interests of the young persons their strengths and cultural and familial values. This process allows for the formulation of the individual's goals. The instructors encourage the youth to take an active role in planning their transition to work and adult community life and allowing them to make decisions regarding their futures. "For example, young people served by these programs often determined who would participate in their transition processes. Family members, friends, co-workers, therapists, church-members and others were invited to come together to create a circle of friend to help these young people reach their goals." [Clark & Stewart, 1992].

Furthermore, they have also observed that "the young person's skills, strengths, preferences, cultural values, limitations and personal goals were used to guide students to educational opportunities as well as pre-employment experiences and employment." However, these were not the only factors. In fact they noted that continuity as one of the most important factors in these six programs as the students require extensive support from these members of society to successfully transition from youth to adulthood. Especially if the person concerned is between the age brackets of 15-18 years who regularly require access to adult services yet are denied due to the borderline age factor.

Clark and Stewart resolved this problem by pointing out that "to ensure access to required community resources and the creation of opportunities across all of the transition domains, collaborative linkages must be established at the young person's level and at the system level."

Another factor that comes out of the development of these programs is that the skills and life style of the individuals are also necessary for transition into independent life. [Clark & Stewart, 1992]. Among the skills that are required include "problem solving, communication, daily living, money management, personal hygiene, housekeeping, emotional/behavioral self-management, recreational and social development are integrated into numerous curricula on the market." According to them the approach that teachers has to take into account for the meaningful community living is important because of the fact that they do not have experience of the traditional classroom environment nor have they been inducted into the formal work or social environment that normal people do. Any program that is to cater to these students must take these factors into considerations. Thus "students involved in these activities also appreciate being able to earn high school credits toward graduation while acquiring these relevant community-based experiences" [Davis & Vander, 1996].

With the emergence of the information technology age, the education institutions in the U.S. And elsewhere in the world have seen a transition in itself. As more and more institutions are converting into IT and integrate IT learning models, it has become imperative for all facets of life to embrace the same technology. Similarly, disabled students must be equipped to deal with this new development in the new civilization.

Computer application can serve as an equalizer for young people with disabilities. In today's technological era everything is done through the computers and it is necessary not only to teach these individuals about the basic usage of computers but also make computers a teaching tool. The computer as a teaching tool creates more engaging environment, it is both entertaining and educational and used by instructors to teach students with disabilities and who are making a transition from high school to university or employment. It is apparent that computer technology has greatly enhanced the learning experiences of students, whether abled or disabled. Those who largely depend on the knowledge of computers and other such IT related skills are no longer considered handicapped. Instead they are encouraged to develop a professional attitude towards such skills. Disabled students too, today largely depend on the IT skills to maneuver their learning as well as life. As Fallon writes: "Several conditions are necessary to ensure successful technology outcomes for young individuals with disabilities. These include appropriate goals for computer use, sufficient and appropriate software selection" [Fallon, 1994]. Hence careful selection of the computer technology is important for the development of the students in transitional stages.

For computers to play a crucial role ad for instructors to use them in order to provide necessary skills to the disable individuals making a transition, the computer programs that are used must be meshed with the educational and community or career goals of the individuals. According to S.L. Judge [2001] "When computers are included in vocational programs and when they are integrated to the curriculum, the young people with disabilities are provided a set of tools to assist them in achieving developmental goals across integrated content areas." Given the vast array of adaptive devices any individual can use a computer. Through the use of the computer…

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