How Students with Disabilities Can Achieve Their Career Goals
Every individual, regardless of their abilities, deserves the opportunity to chase their dreams and build a successful career. However, for college students with disabilities, this journey can often have unique challenges and obstacles that require specialised support and guidance. By exploring the vital role that educational support plays, we can see how students with disabilities can achieve their career goals.
Overcoming Academic and Accessibility Challenges
Overcoming academic and accessibility challenges is a crucial aspect of supporting college students with disabilities. They may encounter difficulties during their college journey and it is important they feel supported and are provided with strategies for addressing these challenges effectively. Educational institutions need to be prepared for the various types of disabilities that college students may have, including physical disabilities, learning disabilities, sensory impairments, and mental health conditions. They may have difficulties with reading, writing, mobility, communication, or mental health-related issues. Accommodations such as extended test-taking time, note-taking assistance, accessible course materials, sign language interpreters, and more should be made available.
At Servisource, we provide Academic Personal Assistants (PA’s), Personal Assistants, ISLs or Irish Sign Language Interpreters as well as Note Takers to students. We recruit, rigorously screen, obtain Garda Vetting and induct our ESWs before appointing them to work with individuals. This ensures we have the right people with the right skills and knowledge to understand their needs and can then match them with an Educational Support Worker that suits them best. Examples of Support Workers include:
Building Skills and Confidence
Educational institutions can discuss the importance of developing both academic and soft skills with students. Academic skills may include effective studying, time management, and research abilities. Soft skills encompass communication, teamwork, and problem-solving. Offering advice on developing resilience can be done through practices like mindfulness, goal setting, and seeking support from counsellors or support groups. Institutions can advise on the value of seeking mentorship from individuals who have successfully navigated similar challenges or are thriving in their careers despite disabilities. Stories of those who have benefited from mentorship relationships can help to build confidence and career readiness. Encourage them to celebrate their achievements, no matter how small they may seem, acknowledging progress can reinforce confidence and motivation.
Transitioning from College to the Professional World
Discuss the importance of early career planning and preparation. Encourage students to start thinking about their goals, networking, and job search strategies while still in college. Explain the pros and cons of disclosing disabilities during the job application process, some may choose to disclose their disabilities to employers upfront, while others may wait until after they’ve secured a job offer. Provide tips on how to disclose disabilities professionally and effectively, emphasising the value of focusing on their abilities and the accommodations that enable them to perform at their best. Discuss the process of requesting workplace accommodations and the legal rights and protections in place. More on this can be found through the Disability Federation of Ireland.
Transitioning from college to the professional world can be a transformative and challenging experience for all students, but it can come with unique considerations for those with disabilities. By providing comprehensive support on career guidance, accommodations, and building skills and confidence, those with disabilities can feel empowered to embark on successful and fulfilling career journeys with the support from their college and the assistance from their Educational Support Workers.