We’re Here for Your Back-to-School Needs

A new school year is underway, and students are excited to begin classes and get back into their social circles and campus activities. To ensure the best outcomes for students, college staff and faculty—and parents—have questions:

How do we share with the professor the types of supports available to help the student succeed in their class?

What kind of information do we share with the instructors about the students?

What’s the best way to engage peer mentors to support the students with ID?

How do we measure academic progress when students are auditing their classes?

How do we search for a college that will meet my child’s needs?

What are the biggest differences between high school and college?

How do I prepare my child for the expectations and reality of living at college?

Will my child get a certificate or degree from college?

And so many more! Well, the Technical Assistance and Training Team at Think College is here to answer these questions and provide support.

The Help Desk is probably the easiest and fastest way to get a question answered.  Email us at ThinkCollegeTA@gmail.com and one of our 16 staff and consultants will answer your questions or reach out to you to find out more. Recently, I spoke to a mom so excited to find the Think College Search tool to support her daughter in finding a college, that she also wanted to know how she could get the message out to the many historically black colleges and universities (HBCU).  So, I sent her basic information about inclusive postsecondary education (IPSE) to share, like the Think College Fact Sheet and the Rethinking College video. I also explained the types of support Think College can provide to colleges and universities just looking to start an IPSE program for students with intellectual disability (ID). 

A few weeks ago, a Student Accessibility director emailed asking to talk about their new program starting and a few glitches he was encountering on the first day. Once we spoke on the phone, I was able to identify a few tools that might be helpful, as well as put him in touch with someone at another university that might also have some ideas. Sometimes making connections are even more important than immediate answers.

Our TA Staff and Consultants are experts from around the country. They provide professional development to college educators on ways to increase access to their course content for all students through a Universal Design for Learning framework that supports both face-to-face and online learning (see our learning module on UDL and this handy checklist). We have staff who specialize in state and regional strategic planning to expand and enhance IPSE for students with ID and consultants with “boots on the ground” experience in developing and sustaining IPSE programs. Consultants with experience in vocational rehabilitation (VR) work with IPSE programs to develop partnerships with local VR agencies. Our team represents many other areas of expertise, as well; just email ThinkCollegeTA@gmail.com to find out how we can help.

Another exciting tool in our toolbox are the Affinity Groups, where colleagues from across the country meet quarterly around a topical area to share ideas and learn new strategies from and ask questions of their peers in the field. These groups have been an immense success in so many areas. We currently have 8 Affinity Groups in research, UDL and technology, student credential development, state alliances, Emerging Advocates, vocational rehabilitation, employment supports, and college-based transition.

Recently, a colleague from Vanderbilt University called and said, I want to talk to others about mentoring and supporting students with ID in engaging in the campus clubs, activities, and events. I need to hear what others are doing, what is and isn’t working, and how to support students without being overbearing or calling them out. And so, a new Affinity Group is being launched: stay tuned for news about the newest group, Inclusive Campus Life!

I think one of the things I enjoy most is recommending some of the nearly 1,000 tools, videos, webinars, handbooks, rubrics, briefs, articles, publications, and more from our Think College Resource Library when I get a call from a high school teacher, parent, job coach, or IPSE program director. Our vast collection of resources—in the library and across the entire Think College website—provides guidance and support for many questions that come across the Help Desk. But if it’s too overwhelming, please reach out to us and we can help you find what you need.

Whatever the issue or problem is, I can probably find a resource to help you or connect you with an experienced TA provider. It is exciting and fun for me to play this match-making game of finding the right solution for a problem!

About the post author: Dr. Kathleen Becht has lived, taught, and advocated in the disability field for over 35 years with a passion for advocacy and self-determination. Kathy earned her Master’s degree from Syracuse University and Doctorate from the University of Central Florida. Throughout her career, Kathy has spoken at national and state conferences in the areas of inclusive secondary and postsecondary education, transition, supported employment, self-advocacy, and families. Kathy works to inspire the literate citizenship of individuals with intellectual disability, as consumers, employees, neighbors, college students, and life-long learners. 

National Coordinating Center