How can parents, family members, and mentors help young people with disabilities prepare for careers?
Providing support for students with disabilities can empower them and reinforce their plans for success. Here are some ways to help:
- Help students identify their vocational strengths and interests - look at hobbies, pastimes, etc.
- Educate yourself about adaptive technology, accommodations, and employment issues.
- Talk to students about practicing self-advocacy, determining appropriate accommodations, and disclosing their disabilities.
- Encourage students to develop personal networks of family members, friends, and community contacts to open up opportunities for work-based learning.
- Parents and guardians should involve themselves in the Individual Education Plans (IEP) of their children and make sure employment preparation activities are included.
- Learn about available adult services and start preparing students for the transition to independent adulthood.
- Assist students in accessing local support networks and disability services organizations, such as the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation, which may be able to provide career preparation, job placement, and referrals to community programs.
- Encourage students to visit the counseling/advising office or career center at their high schools. They may provide a variety of career preparation and job search services. Students can develop career plans and job search skills through individual counseling and workshops.
- Investigate school-to-work programs, such as Tech Prep and High School/High Tech. Tech Prep education is a planned sequence of study in a technical field beginning early in high school. Some Tech Prep courses may be articulated with coursework at local community colleges.
- Contact your State Governor's Committee on Employment of People with Disabilities for information about High School/High Tech, a partnership that combines site tours, job shadowing, internships, and mentoring to encourage students with disabilities to pursue careers in the technology industry.
- Assist students in developing mentoring relationships through family and employment contacts or through disability agencies.
- If necessary, provide transportation support to allow students to participate in work-based learning experiences.