Exploring Vocational Education and Other Training Opportunities for Students with Disabilities
Students and their families look forward to graduation from high school and the possibilities the future holds. The shift to adulthood doesn’t magically happen following the commencement ceremony. Careful planning takes place prior to graduation to ensure a successful transition. Starting at 16 years of age, the student’s Individualized Education Program (IEP) addresses his/her vocational interests.
Individualized Education Program
A coordinated team of educators, service providers, school counselors, and agencies assist the student and his/her family to explore training opportunities. The student’s needs are assessed and team members assume a variety of roles to help the student reach his/her goals. Post-secondary education, vocational training, employ-ment options, adult social services, independent living skills, financial planning, and community participation are all transition topics the team considers.
The IEP addresses individual strengths and needs. Academic classes, work place skills aligned with the Arizona Standards, vocational programs, and job training experiences tailored to his/her needs help the student prepare for the transition to adulthood. Vocational education—education for employment—is critical for the student who wants to enter the work force following high school. Job Corps, EVIT, CAVIT and NAVIT courses offered for junior and senior students through high schools should be considered. Career exploration, decision making, learning appropriate ways of interacting in social and work situations, finding and maintaining employment, and learning self-advocacy skills should be a part of the program. Services may start during high school and continue after graduation. That’s why it is crucial for the IEP team to involve agency representatives who can offer support services beyond high school.
Vocational options range from competitive jobs to supported employment environments. As needed, services offered by Vocational Rehabilitation may include: evaluation, help in finding employment, job skills training, job shadowing opportunities, disability specific accommodations and/or modifications in the work setting, assistive technology, and access to additional resources. Individuals with disabilities may also be eligible for services from the Division of Developmental Disabilities or financial assistance from the Social Security Administration.
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