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In the student's day-to-day academic life, you steer the course through the maze of courses and services needed for middle and high school students to graduate and go on to postsecondary education and employment. Taking the following steps will ease the process for you - and for them. First, understand the disability laws and how they affect your interaction with students with disabilities. Then, familiarize yourself with the range and use of appropriate academic adjustments and auxiliary aids and services available to students with disabilities in both the secondary and postsecondary settings.

Additional ways you can help…

  • Of primary importance is to begin early and lay the foundation of coursework required for college admission.
  • Help these students understand their abilities, interests, talents, and personality characteristics so they can develop realistic academic and career options.
  • Assist them in documenting information about their special talents.
  • Review the financial aid opportunities available for students with disabilities.
  • Advise students with disabilities of their rights to accommodations during standardized testing (Virginia SOLs, ACT, PSAT, SAT, etc). Provide facilities for non-standard administration of comprehensive/qualifying examinations.
  • Advise students of college majors, admission requirements, entrance exams, financial aid, and training opportunities. Provide this information early so that students can get a head start.
  • Help students to access the services provided through the Department of Rehabilitative Services (DRS) as soon as they are old enough. Do this before their senior year!
  • Introduce yourself to the local college service providers and discuss the services available on their campuses.
  • Attend the student's IEP meetings. Discuss transition beginning at age 14 or younger, usually at the end of the seventh grade or during the eighth grade.
  • Encourage college, university, and technical school representatives to speak to groups of students with disabilities and their parents.
  • Include students with disabilities in ALL college-related activities, such as College Night, college tours, Future Quest, etc.
  • Work with postsecondary student support personnel to promote awareness at the high school level about the demands of college.

Excerpted from Virginia's College Guide for Students with Disabilities (2003 Edition).
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