As all students graduate from high school and consider higher education, the work force, or military training, they need to be prepared for a large volume of required reading, as well as advanced and professional levels of text materials. Students with print disabilities will need additional preparation and support to use Accessible Educational Materials (AEM) and Assistive Technology (AT) in post-secondary settings. High school personnel can assist by including AEM and AT in transition plans.
The Summary of Performance (SOP) is required under IDEA 2004 and designed to help establish students’ eligibility for accommodations in post-secondary settings. To successfully prepare a student for transition, it is recommended that planning be linked to the IEP process and begin by the time the student reaches ninth grade.
A highly recommended resource for high school IEP teams is the Nationally Endorsed Summary of Performance – template. Note that Sections II (Summary of Functional Performance) and III (Recommendations) are relevant places to include AEM and AT.
Regardless of the post-secondary path chosen, students with print disabilities should exit high school with sufficient skills to independently use AEM and AT. For example, students should know how to acquire the specialized format they need and how to use related reading tools. They should also be prepared to seek out accommodations in their workplace or educational setting.
AEM in Post-secondary Education
Students entering higher education institutions should research and visit the campus’s Disability Services Personnel (DSP). To start the process of receiving AEM as an accommodation, a student will need to notify DSP of his or her print disability and make a written request. DSP will share the institution’s guidelines for providing documentation of the need for the accommodation; for an AEM-related request, the guidelines will include documentation that supports the presence of a print disability. Once approved, DSP should orient the student to the institution’s procedure for requesting required course materials in alternative format.
AEM in the Workplace
The services of the Maine Department of Labor – Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) can be a key resource to teams in the process of transitioning from high school to a job.
Employees with disabilities are guaranteed accommodations such as AEM through the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Refer to the Job Accommodations Network for information regarding accommodations in the workplace.
Photo credit: Image licensed through Creative Commons by ME Tech University