New “Inclusive Postsecondary Opportunities” website, FERPA handout for parents

Good news! There are now over 260 programs on college campuses across the country offering students with intellectual disabilities an opportunity to earn a certificate by taking college classes, engaging in career development and independent living activities and participating in the social life of the campus.

Learn why inclusive postsecondary education is important (and possible!) for students with intellectual disabilities, how to find the right program, how to prepare, and how to stay involved and supportive throughout their journey on PACER’s new Inclusive Postsecondary Opportunities for Students with Intellectual Disabilities webpage. Pacer shared this information via their Inspiring Possibilities e-newsletter, which includes updates from Pacer’s National Parent Center on Transition and Employment. Click here to view the newsletter online.

In addition, Think College! has also created a helpful handout for parents advocating on behalf of their adult children in IPSE programs. As traditional four-year universities, community colleges, and trade and technical schools enroll more youth with disabilities, they are also hearing from more parents who expect to provide additional guidance and support to their youth during this transition. Parents accustomed to the Individualized Education Program (IEP) and transition team are often surprised to find there are no such supports at the college or university level. In fact, postsecondary institutions sometimes discourage parent involvement and do not make it a common practice to communicate with families. Parents may be told that the postsecondary institution cannot communicate education or health information to families due to the Federal Education Right to Privacy Act (FERPA). Learn more in the handout Communicating with Your Student’s College Under FERPA and hear a parent perspective in the previously recorded webinar You Don’t Say! Parent Involvement Expectations, Communication and FERPA Requirements in Postsecondary Education Programs for Students with Intellectual Disabilities.

February meeting of the Tennessee Inclusive Higher Education Alliance

The Tennessee Inclusive Higher Education Alliance (TN IHE Alliance) met in February to share program updates, to learn about postsecondary education-related research projects, and to hear more about upcoming advocacy opportunities.

The meeting began with welcome and introductions and then launched into a presentation of a Capstone Research Project led by two Lipscomb University doctoral candidates, Drs. Daniel Claytor and Adrienne Cook. They presented research titled “Inclusive Postsecondary Education Programs for Students with Intellectual Disabilities: A Study of Parental Perceptions,” created with responses of expectation surveys sent to parents of students enrolled in  inclusive postsecondary education (IPSE) programs.

Next, Belmont University Occupational Therapy students discussed their involvement with Lipscomb IDEAL students to encourage healthy living through regular activity, fitness knowledge, and accountability. One of the OT students discussed the creation of a “Fitness UNO” game and  plans to raise funds for activity trackers for each of the students. Next, =IDEAL gave updates to its program, particularly focusing on the addition of off-campus rental housing for third-year students.

Next Steps at Vanderbilt discussed creating and distributing a qualitative study to former Vanderbilt Ambassadores (traditional Vanderbilt University students and peers to Next Steps students) and another to graduate student faculty at Vanderbilt. Union University’s EDGE Program outlined research being conducted of supports that Union faculty members found beneficial when offering audited courses to EDGE students.

Following the program updates, IHE Alliance chair Tammy Day discussed professional development opportunities for local education agencies, including a Capacity Building event with Metro Nashville Public Schools and others; an expansion of programs across the State, that will make professional development more accessible across Tennessee; an inclusive higher education awareness event over the summer for in-service learning; and further steps to continue efforts. Day mentioned that East Tennessee State University would be piloting their own IPSE program beginning in Fall 2019.

Attendees then discussed opportunities for increasing IPSE programs at Tennessee community colleges. Details were shared on the upcoming TN AHEAD Conference taking place Mar. 18-20 at the Holiday Inn Nashville-Vanderbilt  (2613 West End Ave., Nashville). Attendees were then reminded of SEPSEA 2019 dates on May 16 and 17 at the College of Charleston in Charleston, SC, before adjourning.

The next IHE Alliance meeting will take place on Friday, June 14, from 9 a.m.-12 p.m. at the University of Memphis.