|First year of high school
||Create an Individualized Education Plan (IEP)
||An individualized education plan, also known as an IEP, should be in place when a student begins high school or shortly thereafter. It will help determine the appropriate accommodations and resources for students to help them learn alongside their peers in high school.
||Remember that students with disabilities have the right to learn alongside their peers. Review the laws concerning disability rights and what schools must provide before going into the IEP meeting.
|Before age 16
||Start transition planning
||According to federal law, students who have an IEP must be provided with transition planning that starts before the student turns 16. The transition team will involve the student, their parents, educators and outside representatives (such as therapists or social workers) to create a plan for life after high school.
||Keep an ongoing list of your student’s strengths and weaknesses, areas where more help is needed, and the kind of work they might be interested in after school. These notes will be very valuable when transition planning begins.
|Sophomore or junior year
||Assessment by a Vocational Rehabilitation counselor
||This very important meeting can help determine which trade school programs might be the best fit for the student. Vocational Rehabilitation counselors are specially trained to assess students’ abilities and limitations and suggest trade schools in the area that could make excellent options.
||This assessment can be valuable when planning the last few years of high school. A student who intends to go to trade school will want to choose courses that reflect their future goals.
||Consider vocational aptitude testing
||These tests can help determine which careers might be suitable for the student. High school career counselors can help recommend and administer tests.
|Junior and senior year
||Research potential trade schools
||Now comes the fun part – looking at all the options and narrowing down the list! Look for schools that suit what the student aspirations and abilities.
||Look into potential schools’ disability resource offices: what services do they offer?
|Beginning of senior year
||Apply to trade schools that are right for the student
||Choose a few “top” schools that are most attractive to the student, then look for a few other schools that aren’t perfect but will be great for a backup plan. It might be a good idea to look into trade schools that have programs specifically designed to assist students with disabilities.
||It’s important to remember that a disability never has to be disclosed on any application form. However, if a disability has negatively affected test scores or GPA, it might be advantageous to disclose the disability to the admissions committee.
|High school graduation
||IEP services end
||As IEP services end, students and parents will receive final paperwork regarding transition plans. Hold onto this paperwork in case the trade school needs to see it as part of disability documentation.
|Throughout trade school
||Seek out disability resources at school
||Parents along with the students themselves must be strong advocates for accessing disability resources in trade school. Keeping a close connection with the school’s disability resource office can ensure students are getting the accommodations they need to keep up in school.
Only 19% of students in postsecondary schools received accommodations; by contrast, 87% of those same students did receive accommodations in high school. That’s one reason it’s so important for students to have a strong advocate as they make the transition to higher education.
|Final year of trade school
||Search for employment opportunities
||Look for jobs that fit in with the student’s career plans and seek out employers that can provide the right working accommodations, if necessary.
|During the employment search
||Identify reasonable workplace accommodations
||Workplace accommodations – such as providing extra time to complete tasks or installing assistive technologies – can help trade school graduates thrive in their new careers. It’s important to come to a new prepared: knowing what workplace accommodations will be needed is the first step to making sure your student gets them.
About 26% of working adults with disabilities had informed their employer of their disability; of those individuals, 7% reported receiving accommodations.
|A few months to one year into employment
||Evaluate the employment situation
||At some point shortly after employment begins, it’s crucial to evaluate the situation. Are more accommodations needed? Is the job something the graduate enjoys? Are there any problems that need to be addressed?
|A year or two after sustained employment begins
||Look for other transitions that might be possible, such as living independently
||Some individuals with disabilities will spread their wings and fly; others will always need some level of assistance. Look at the situation from year to year to determine just how much independence is possible.