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Life after High School: A Guide for Students with Visual Impairments
Parent Guide | Resources
Student Guide to Preparing for Employment
Middle School | High School | You Got the Job! Now What?
As you move forward in school, you will start to hear the term "transition" mentioned with increasing frequency. Simply put, the term means "moving from one phase or place to another." As a student, your first real transition will involve moving from the world of school into adult life: it's a time to begin thinking about careers, transportation, accommodations, finances, post-secondary training, and adult living arrangements.
This guide is focused on employment and career planning. Career opportunities for young people with visual impairments have increased tremendously in recent years, and careful planning is important to maximize the opportunities available to you. You can use this guide to get started on the path to a job that's right for you.
What You Can Do in Middle School to Prepare for Employment
Middle School Guide: (WORD) 1.17 MB | (PDF ) 98 kb
What You Can Do in High School to Prepare for Employment
- Start thinking about careers you are interested in exploring, and about your own skills and abilities. You might want to explore the Career Advantage for V.I.P.s website. Discover your career interests or find out what you need to do to prepare while in high school at WaytoGoRI.org.
- Discuss your interests and capabilities with your parents, other trusted adults, the teacher of the visually impaired (TVI) that you work with, other teachers and your guidance counselor. Brainstorm about volunteer opportunities with organizations or businesses that interest you.
- Attend career fairs, and talk with people in your community about their careers. Another good place to start researching careers is the My Next Move website.
- If you have not already investigated and familiarized yourself with the assistive technology and range of accommodations you may need, at home and work, now is the time to start. Your TVI or SBVI Counselor can be a great resource.
- Take advantage of mobility instruction if available to you. Start working on your mobility skills at home and in the community.
High School Guide: (WORD) 1.03 MB | (PDF ) 94 kb
- At age fourteen, learn about vocational services available through the Services for the Blind and Visually Impaired (SBVI) at the Office of Rehabilitation Services, and when you should apply.
- Once you are determined eligible for vocational services, arrange regular times to meet with your Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) counselor. Ideally, before your senior year, you will have completed career interest inventories, and you and your VR counselor will have arranged for vocational assessment activities, including experiences in real work environments. You can explore today's job market on your own using the web resources listed below:
- CareerConnect is an employment resource developed by the American Foundation for the Blind, and includes access to a mentor program
- EmployRI, sponsored by networkRI, provides resources on occupations, careers, and labor market information.
- As you research career options, ask yourself these questions:
- What kind of job do I see myself doing when I am 25?
- What kind of training or education will I need to do that job?
- What do I need to accomplish while in high school to reach my goal?
- Share the questions above, and your answers, with your parents and your IEP (Individualized Education Program) team as you work on developing your transition IEP plan.
- Research shows that work experiences in high school have consistently been associated with better employment opportunities after high school. Actively seek summer employment, part-time jobs after school, volunteer opportunities, and internships. Investigate opportunities to job shadow in a field of interest. Enlist your vocational rehabilitation counselor, TVI, resource teacher, family, and friends to help you find work in the community. Keep a log of your experiences, including dates and names of supervisors, to reference when completing job applications.
- Learn as much as possible about available technology. Develop the skills to monitor your own technology needs and to match your needs to the appropriate technology tools. Students who are skilled users of typical office technology such as Microsoft Word, Excel, Outlook, and PowerPoint will fare better in a competitive job market.
- Having strong mobility skills will help you to travel with confidence to and from future jobs. If you have an Orientation and Mobility Instructor, talk with them about strategies to improve your skills at home and in the community. If considering having a guide dog in the future, proficient mobility skills, including white cane skills, are a prerequisite.
- Strengthen your organizational skills. Schedule your own appointments with medical specialists and transportation services. Keep a calendar of your appointments in a tool such as Microsoft Outlook. Keep a list of contact, including your guidance counselor, doctors, and SBVI counselor.
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