There are lots of resources out there to support students with disabilities. In this webinar, we help you sort through some of the most helpful ones. These resources are meant to help ease postsecondary planning and career exploration and include a module in the Texas OnCourse Academy that’s filled with awesome information on how to best advise this student population.
In this webinar, we’re joined by Alyssa Kee, a Program Specialist for Transition working in the Vocational Rehabilitation Division at the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC). She discussed transition services and state-led programs that help students get ready for adulthood. Vocational rehabilitation (VR) helps people with disabilities obtain and maintain employment that is consistent with their abilities and strengths. People using VR services work with a vocational rehabilitation counselor (VRC). These services are eligibility based and uniquely tailored to the individual. The goal of this program is for students to gain more confidence in their skills and feel comfortable advocating for themselves. People with disabilities are welcome to seek out VR support at any point in their life.
Watch the webinar below or download the slides.
Transition services are a subset of VR services and are specifically for individuals between the ages of 14-22. As students move from high school to independent living, VR supports them throughout their entire journey, so they’re prepared after graduation. Transition services assist students in exploring postsecondary pathways and careers. Students have the option to continue working with their VRC after high school if necessary.
VR services also include pre-employment transition services, also referred to as pre-ETS. Most students will fall into one of five pre-ETS categories:
- Career exploration counseling: Students explore job opportunities and other best-fit options to help them make informed choices when it comes to their place of work.
- Work-based learning experiences: Students explore both in- and after-school work opportunities. Students learn about work and what it means to be on a work site.
- Job readiness training: Students learn how to prepare for work and develop social skills and independent living.
- Counseling on postsecondary training: Students have the chance to explore all postsecondary options available, such as technical/ trade school, community college, and four-year universities.
- Instruction in self-advocacy: Students feel empowered to communicate their interests and desires so they become the best advocate for themselves.
The VR Division has tons of awesome programs for students to get hands-on experience in jobs, careers, and skills. Students in these programs focus on the learning aspect of being at a job and working with others while being in a supportive environment.
Some of these programs include the following:
- Summer Earn and Learn: Students get paid experience over summer break.
- Explore STEM!: Students are exposed to science, technology, engineering, and math professionals and postsecondary opportunities.
- Work Readiness Services: Students get vocational training in key areas like soft skills and money management. Students get to explore and learn about work in a structured environment. Through this program, students are placed in a business or organization where they can learn and get well-rounded experience.
Every high school district has an assigned VRC from the Texas Workforce Commission. There are two distinct titles within the role. Vocational rehabilitation counselors serve Texans of all ages and serve as liaisons to school districts. Transition vocational rehabilitation counselors (TVRCs) only serve students and work at several different schools. It's recommended that eligible students be referred to a TVRC as young as 14 years old so they can start exploring their interests and enjoy the benefits of these programs. School staff are encouraged to coordinate with TWC to refer students and discuss services and opportunities.
The Transition Services module in the Texas OnCourse Academy has wonderful information on advising students with disabilities. This module includes critical knowledge on best practices and career preparation, so students are on a successful path when they graduate high school. You’ll have access to handouts with complete overviews of eligibility requirements, which are great to share with families. Did we mention the Academy is free? It has over 30 modules covering topics such as endorsements, entrance exams, financial aid, and more! Make an account and gain access to a world of practical professional development.
Big thanks to Alyssa Kee for speaking to us about some of the programs available to students with unique abilities. The school year is coming to an end, and we hope you found these resources helpful! Don’t forget to keep up with us on social media @TexasOnCourse to stay current with news and updates.