Adult Education centers and Career/Technical Education centers are required to follow Section 504 rules for accommodation of students with disabilities. Many technical education programs have a basic skills requirement which can be a challenge to our students, however if you know the system, these basic skills requirements may be waived for students who are able to show they have gained employability skills in their vocation program. For example, the program may graduate students in an industry standard; the individual with the disability may benefit from the training and develop entry-level or assistant skills in the technological area, but will not be able to pass the TABE at the levels required for the program’s graduation standards. Well, they may be able to get a waiver for those requirements, and complete the program even if they do not necessarily pass the industry certification requirements
If we send in supports with the student, and they are able to benefit from the training, and the can show progression in Work Maturity Skills (measured) as well as technical skills, then this may lead to employability skills. If we follow the new WIOA and HCBS rules, we can assure that the students are being served in a non-segregated setting, along with the general population, and the skills they develop are based on industry standards. The tricky part is assuring that the school gets paid, and that their rating scores take into account their provision of quality services and supports to the students with disabilities.
So, the barriers are funding for the tuition, fees and expenses related to being a student in the program, funding for the direct support providers, assuring that we have trained, vetted, motivated direct support providers (who may also be interested in learning alongside the student) who are stable and secure in their employment, willing administrators, and the provision of social skills/life skills/employability skills training in the integrated environment.
If we can expand the concept of the Comprehensive Transition Program to the Adult Education / Career/Technical Education centers – not just limit them to the colleges – and provide a system for funding (not the patchwork we have now) then we can instantly expand services to young adults with disabilities in all areas without having to develop segregated programs. Not that I want to eliminate all special programs – I would just like to see an expansion to the existing Adult Education and CTE centers.
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