Knowing the best time to prepare your child or young adult for the world beyond high school is tough. However, it is my hope that by implementing the three strategies outlined below, you and your child will gain the confidence you need to navigate the transition process.
Knowing your legal rights is the first strategy. At Disability Rights Ohio, our motto is “we have the legal right of way,” meaning individuals with disabilities have the legal right to be active in society and enjoy every opportunity that all Americans do. While your child is in secondary school, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), which requires students with a disability receive Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) tailored to their individual needs, i.e. special education, protects them. When students leave special education, they step out of the legal protections of the IDEA and into the protections of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act.
There are several key differences between the IDEA and ADA you need to know. The first is how one’s disability is identified. Under IDEA, the school district is responsible to identify the needs of students who may require special education. Under the ADA, responsibility lies with the person with a disability to “self-disclose” their disability to receive “reasonable accommodations” from employers and college/training programs. To help you learn more about self-disclosing, the National Collaborative on Workforce and Disability/Youth (NCWD/Y) has valuable resources on Disability Disclosure.
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