Transition: High School to College

by Martha Fydrich

Every year seems to present itself with new challenges, rewards, expectations and decisions. This has been another year of transition for our oldest child. Her high school career is quickly ending, with college as her next goal in life. During her junior year of high school, we started attending college fairs. We asked all the "normal" questions but added one more, "What are your resources available for disabled students? More specifically, "What are your resources available for Deaf and hard of hearing students?" The answers were often very positive and at other times quite honest that it was extremely hard for them to provide services. Throughout our search, we kept in the back of our minds this principle: opportunities that were going to provide a compatible, communication driven learning environment to meet the special needs of our hearing-impaired daughter.

Narrowing our choices, we then contacted the offices for disabled students and gathered information on services provided. A decision was made to attend CSU and a letter of acceptance was received shortly after she submitted her application. We then met with the coordinator of interpreting services and learned the process for arranging for interpreters, notetakers, etc. This gave her a chance to feel comfortable with expectations, people providing services, and student responsibilities.

Transitioning from high school to college removes one from the protection of the IDEA Law. College students are provided services under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (504) and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 ( ADA ). As civil rights legislation, Section 504 and the ADA prohibit discrimination based on disability or handicap. It will provide auxiliary aids, accommodations, and modifications to qualified students in order to have an equal opportunity to participate in or benefit from programs provided by the university or college. Students must self-identify as having a disability, with appropriate documentation. In turn, reasonable accommodations will be provided.

Another step in the transition process is to connect with the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR). This is our next step in transition from high school to college. We have contacted DVR and connected with a counselor who works with Deaf and hard of hearing individuals. An appointment is arranged and an application is filed. Next we will attend an orientation and eligibility meeting and continue with the appropriate steps outlined.

Transition, or passage from one stage to another, never happens without a great deal of work, insight, and emotion. Learning the appropriate process, meeting wonderful people, and finding success is always part of transition. The high school to college transition will be remembered as facing new challenges, rewards, expectations and decisions.

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