A Focus on Natural Supports in Postsecondary Education for Students with Intellectual Disabilities at Western Carolina University
Postsecondary education opportunities for students with intellectual disabilities (ID) have increased over the past 40 years. Although programs vary, some have been designed to provide a fully inclusive learning experience. The University Participant (UP) Program at Western Carolina University (WCU) is a fully inclusive program where participants live in campus residence halls, audit classes, work in internships on campus, and participate in a wide variety of on-campus activities. An important part of the UP program is the student volunteers serving as natural supports or individuals providing necessary assistance in typical environments for UP Program participants throughout the day. This paper describes how the WCU UP Program uses natural supports to facilitate inclusive opportunities, responsibilities, recruitment, training, coaching, coordination, scheduling, and evaluation of work performance. We conclude with benefits of having undergraduate students serve as natural supports in postsecondary education programs.
Kelley, K. R., & Westling, D. L. (2013). A Focus on Natural Supports in Postsecondary Education for Students with Intellectual Disabilities at Western Carolina University. Journal Of Vocational Rehabilitation, 38(1), 67-76.