Access to the Future: Preparing Students with Disabilities for Careers

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[Narrator] It's a long way from the classroom to that first job interview. And for students with disabilities, there may be some awkward moments when they get there.
[Interviewer] Tell me. How did you happen to go blind?
[Interviewer] Gosh, you're such an inspiration. But computer programming's really demanding.
[Interviewer] So you probably can't use a computer, right? 'Cause you're crippled, right?
[Interviewer] So, how'd you happen to go blind?
[Interviewer] Don't you get sick a lot?
[Interviewer] Right?
[Interviewer] Hmmm, tell me. How'd you happen to go blind?
[Narrator] Well, of course they aren't supposed to ask those questions. As a career counselor or work-based learning coordinator, you know that. But it does happen, and some potential employers may be thinking those things even though they'd never say them. Learning to deal with employers' concerns and assumptions is essential.
[Randy] Interviews, to begin with, are a game in psychology. You're showing them that you are the greatest thing in the world and they want you so badly that they can't stand it. For the disabled person it's a little more tricky, because you have to prove to them that you are the hottest thing in the world and they can't stand not having you, and you can do the job even though you have the disability.
[Co-worker] Did you want to do the Airborne thing tonight?
[Todd] Yes, let's get it together before I go.
[Co-worker] Okay, I'll be here for a little bit longer.
[Todd] Okay, great.
[Co-worker] All right.
[Todd] Thanks.
[Co-worker] See you, Todd.
[Narrator] The ADA, or American with Disabilities Act, prohibits discrimination in the workplace.
[Phone dialing beeps]
[Narrator] People with disabilities need to be aware of their legal rights. But they also have to consider the impact of their disabilities as they plan their career-seeking strategies. You can help with that process.
[Vic] We've found that internships, co-op programs, and other work-based programs are very effective in terms of students learning how to interview, learning how and when to disclose disabilities, and learning what accommodations students might need in different work situations.
[Supervisor] There's this mailing project that I need you to work on.
[Minda] Okay.
[Supervisor] It's going to go to about 20 or 30 people?
[Narrator] Unfortunately, students with disabilities don't enter work-based learning programs as often as other students. Inclusion in those programs may take some specific recruiting efforts.
[Minda] I think students with disabilities think that maybe that those opportunities aren't for them, that maybe that those programs internships or things aren't geared toward people with disabilities, so maybe they just don't want to apply or think that they're applicable.
[Narrator] One way to reach those students is to ask the Disabled Student Services Office to help you advertise your activities and services. They might be able to distribute information about your programs and connect you to student groups that would appreciate a presentation. Then, once you have people's attention, they have to be able to access your services. Your clients may have learning, visual, hearing, speech, or mobility impairments. Taking steps to make sure your facilities, services, and resources are welcoming and accessible to individuals with a broad range of characteristics is an application of the principles of universal design. For example: materials more accessible, but there are challenges there as well. For people who are blind, critical information presented as graphics must be duplicated in a text format to be readable by speech output software.
[Computer] At first, the quaternions were regarded as pathological.
[Narrator] And for students who are deaf, audio information must be captioned or transcribed. The important thing is to plan ahead, to know how to produce materials in alternative formats before someone needs them. Be prepared to produce them quickly when asked.
[Dyane] What is essential is that you do know how to go about getting those accommodations in place in a timely manner when they're requested. And a real good resource for that, for the Career Services Office, is the Disabled Student Services Office. They can contact that office any time and they'll help them figure out how to fulfill that requested accommodation.
[Narrator] And then think about how you can work effectively with a person who has a disability. Here are some tips for success: on campus, but certainly the Center for Career Services, you'd want to treat them like you would any other student, provide them with the same services as you would any other student, have the same expectations as any other student. However, if the student has disability-related needs, you'd certainly want to consider them as you provide them the service and respond accordingly.
[Interviewer] Can you give me an example of how, when you're working with the Big Brothers & Sisters, if there was a conflict between two of the children, how did you resolve it?
[Narrator] Events outside your office need to be accessible, too. These may include interviewing workshops like this one, career fairs, and interviews between students and employers.
[Interviewer] What kind of a background do you have that gets you interested in robotics?
[Dyane] The Center for Career Services Office is responsible for providing any kind of requested accommodations that a student asks for, but it is the student's responsibility to request the accommodation, because the Center for Career Services folks won't know what the student is needing unless the student asks.
[Narrator] In advertising your event, include a notice indicating who to contact to request disability-related accommodations. Some requests might include: the Career Center would provide the accommodations. For employer interviews, even on campus, it's different.
[Vic] The employer would provide the accommodations. In fact, we have had employers in the past who have interviewed students in our offices here, if it's for their business, we let them know what the opportunities are on campus to provide, say, an interpreter. They have the option to take advantage of that, or they can bring their own interpreter. But they would be the ones who would cover the cost.
[Student] What should I be doing?
[Counselor] Well, it's just recognizing, first of all, that the transferrable kinds of skills?
[Narrator] You can work with students on how and when to present those accommodation needs. However, if you want to talk to an employer about a specific student's disability, get written permission from the student first.
[Vic] Employers are looking for skilled people. Whether they have disabilities or not, if people come across to them as someone who has strengths and abilities that will benefit their business, that's what they care about. They want people who are skilled. And if a student gets that across they're halfway there.
[Narrator] The disability itself isn't supposed to be part of the job interview. Accommodations should be discussed after an offer of employment. But for students with obvious disabilities, this timing doesn't always work. It's an individual choice.
[Caller] Thanks, Todd. Do appreciate it.
[Todd] You're welcome, man.
[Caller] Have a good afternoon
[Todd] You too, bud.
[Caller] Bye, bye [Todd] Bye bye.
[Narrator] At Todd Stabelfeldt's first interview, it took a great flurry of activity, including moving the Interviewer's desk, to accommodate his wheelchair. Then, the first thing they talked about was Todd's disability. Todd prefers to get the discussion out of the way immediately.
[Todd] It's a good icebreaker. People want to know. This is obviously an attraction. They're interested; they want to know as humans. And so I find that it's real easy for me to talk about it. I'll get it out in the open and get it over with, and then we can move on with our conversation. I don't mind, you know.
[Interviewer] It looks like you've done a lot of fundraising with some non-profits. Can you tell me about that?
[Applicant] Yes, I've handled many different tasks, ranging from building and maintaining databases to --
[Narrator] Each situation and each student is different. It's the individual's choice whether to disclose a disability during the job interview. Once a student has a job, accommodations may be necessary. Work-based learning offers the opportunity to determine what those accommodations might be, and then to work with employers to implement those accommodations.
[Todd] One, I obviously can't open the door. So basically, you know, you can set up automatic doors off of switches and things, so they set that up for my wheelchair, and that's how I open the door at home and at the office. And as far as computer working, it's real simple; on-screen keyboard with sort of a stick mouse sip and puff, you know, one puff single click, two puffs double click; and that's what I use. And then just a simple book stand and mouth wand for magazine turning, paper turning. And that's really it.
[Narrator] Companies are responsible for providing reasonable accommodations to their employees with disabilities. In work-based learning placements, however, schools and businesses should work together to determine who will be financially responsible for accommodations. To help students and employers choose reasonable accommodations, you can use this four-step process: with the disability has the best knowledge about what their needs are. However, if students have not yet been in the workplace, they may not have a good idea about what they need and what's available to them.
[Narrator] Finally, and most important, have high expectations for students with disabilities. Expect success. More and more people with disabilities are going to college, and you have the opportunity to help them meet their career goals. 00:04:13,076 --> 00:04:15,166 [Narrator] Using electronic formats may help make your 00:05:45,096 --> 00:05:47,826 [Dyane] When a student with a disability goes to any office 00:07:10,576 --> 00:07:11,516 [Narrator] For its own events, 00:11:01,536 --> 00:11:03,356 [Dyane] Ultimately, the student 00:11:40,516 --> 00:11:44,500 [ Music ]