The most impactful law on assistive technology has been the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA) of 1990. This law has led to significant changes in the ways schools instruct their students. This federal legislation ensures that students with disabilities receive a Free and Appropriate Public Education (FAPE). Further, these students must also receive an Individual Education Plan (IEP) against which the students’ progress can be measured.
In 2004, IDEA was amended to include specific language concerning transition. These changes were needed to correct the underemployment of adults with disabilities. According to the IDEA commission… “students with disabilities are significantly unemployed and underemployed upon leaving school compared to their peers who do not have disabilities. Adults with disabilities are much less likely to be employed than adults without disabilities. Unemployment rates for working-age adults with disabilities have hovered at the 70 percent level for at least the past 12 years.”
The amended legislation requires schools to begin preparing their students for transitioning at the age of 14. While 14 might seem young, we would argue that transition training should begin at an even earlier age. Transitioning into adulthood is a complicated process that varies for every individual. However, we know that certain abilities will help students along their transition journey into careers and independent living situations.
Executive function refers to a group of skills related to the coordinated cognitive processes that help people manage themselves, make decisions, and accomplish goals. Young adults will often struggle with executive functioning. These struggles manifest in various ways. Students may have trouble with:
- Time management
- Organizational skills
- Ability to work with a team
Fortunately, students’ challenges with these life skills can be reduced. Early preparation for transition is effective, but there are also several technological applications that can help students improve their executive function skills.
For an effective how-to guide on using Technology for Transition and Postsecondary Success, click here.