Getting ready to attend college is daunting for every student and their family. It is like preparing to travel to a new place you’ve never been before. This webinar with Alice Wershing will focus on the differences between available accommodations in Higher education versus those offered in K-12 settings via IEP ‘s or 504 plans. Learn what types of documentation is required, what to ask when exploring colleges and how to best locate resources to smooth the way towards that first semester, whether going away or attending school near home. (Get the Slides)
- [Moderator] Good afternoon. Thanks for joining CTD this afternoon. Our webinar today is, what you need to know: transitioning to higher ed for students with disabilities. We're pleased to welcome today, Alice Wershing. Alice is a registered, certified AT professional who has been providing AT services to individuals with disabilities for over 30 years. She's also a certified professional in accessibility core competencies, and a licensed educator with the state of Tennessee in elementary education and special education. She currently serves as the Technology Specialist for Disability Services at Pellissippi State Community College in Knoxville, providing technology access to students receiving accommodations. Please note that at the end of the webinar we're gonna share a survey slide, and if you're interested in getting a certificate of participation, complete our survey and you can access your certificate. I'll go ahead and pass it on to Alice. Thanks again for joining us.
- [Alice] Thank you. Thank you for inviting me to do this webinar. We'll go ahead and get started. Please put in the chat any questions you might have or if you're having any kind of technical issues so that folks can get the assistance that they need. Just a few objectives for today's session. Looking at the differences, comparing and contrasting them between services for students who are in the K-12 arena versus the post secondary arena for students with disabilities. Identify differences between accommodations that are available at the post secondary institutions versus K-12. And develop an understanding of shifts. By that I mean the transition process and how to prepare for the transition to post secondary options for students with disabilities. I think we're ready for our poll. S
o if you could just describe who you are. If you're a family member, an educator, what level you're teaching, if you're at the post secondary level, if you're a counselor, a therapist. We have some really broad categories here. Students who are interested in learning what they need to know, just so we have a sense of who's in the audience. So it looks like there's a majority of people that are providing assistive technology services, family members, other category, if you wanna type in where you think you fit, that's kind of running about the same as assistive technology, and then the smattering of everyone else, educators, counselors, advisors, administrators. Doesn't look like we have any students today. But that's fine.
I can see from the chat we have different advisors, and advocates, great. So I'm coming at this from several different perspectives, as you can see, and the learning process is ongoing as we all know. We are all in this as life long learners. But first and foremost as an educator, and as an AT service provider. As a parent, I'm also the parent of a senior. So I've been going through this same process that many of you, if you're parents, of if you're counselors in K-12, if you're at the high school level, thank you so much because it's making my life a lot easier as a parent. I'm also a sibling. I have a younger brother who has very high functioning autism who was not able to be successful in post secondary settings for lots of reasons. Things have changed. It's been a long time since he was in that environment. And then as the staff person in disability services.
So when I look at things as an educator, I'm often looking at things from what's going on in the K-12 experience. When we started having good differentiated instruction and good intervention, and it hasn't been all that long ago, I wondered, and it's coming to fruition for me, what the impact of this was going to be on our students as they got ready to transition from K-12, even pre K to K-12 into post secondary education. Because so many of the students that we're working with now were provided with opportunities for differentiated instruction in academics. They had good intervention all the way through. Then we come to what happens at graduation. And what I'm finding now as an educator is that we still have pretty significant gaps in our service delivery system. I don't know how things are going to change, or if they're going to change.
But we are still seeing individuals for whom, they've been in a good, well rounded academic experience where there's been good instruction, good intervention, lots of assistive technology, and they get to the graduation point, and they're not sure what to do next. And we'll talk a little bit as the slides go forward, about what happens when perhaps post secondary is not the fit. From the AT experience, I came from two different centers. One in Berkeley, California, and one here in Knoxville that was a regional resource and demonstration center for assistive technology. And over the course of 30 years, obviously we've seen lots of changes in technology. From the standardized disks that those of us who knew the Apple IIE popped into, and did lots of skill mastery, lots of different kinds of software programs for different skills, not necessarily the beginning that matched up with K-12 curriculum in the general ed classroom. But we still had those things where we could go to and we could do some kind of mastery work. Or we could remediate.
Or we could do some skill enhancement. As the field has moved forward we have a lot of tools now for differentiation. That could be a whole webinar in and of itself. As to what kinds of things we can do to provide access to academic experiences for students across a wide range of abilities. Someone who's a single switch user. Someone who has visual impairments. Someone who has a hearing impairment. We also have a lot of tools now for independence. And many of the webinars hat CTD has done in the past have focused on those different kinds of apps, different ways that we can make our students more independent, work on their executive functioning. The other thing that has come along is this whole notion of accessibility. Not just physical accessibility and how we make things in our environment accessible.
But accessibility related to the academic curriculum that a student's involved in. And if you're not familiar with the terms substantial equivalent ease of use, which goes along with accessibility, we wanna be sure that students, especially in the higher ed environment are able to do the same things that all students are being asked to do, with the same ease of use. Course we all know challenges of technology. But within the same timeframe, the same platform, the same experience. And that gets a little bit more daunting as we're looking at how do we make complex information such as STEM information available to everyone. So that a screen reader can be used with it whether I'm a sighted screen reader user, or I'm able to use text to speech, or I can't see the screen at all. So the experience for me as an AT provider has really changed over the last 30 years.
And especially now at the post secondary level where not focusing on the tools for differentiation, or mastery, or remediation, I'm looking at how are they going to be able to do what the curriculum's asking them to do, with the instructors asking them to do. And how are they going to do it independently. And as a parent, those of you that are going through this, I have lots of friends that are going through this at the same time, it is daunting. The college journey is really difficult sometimes. Because without the guidance of someone at the school level, without the guidance of people online, there's just so much information coming at you at once. So it's a little scary, and anxiety producing. And the waiting is the hardest part. We're in wait mode right now at our house for a couple schools. And we have two schools that my daughter's been accepted to. But we don't know financial aid.
So there's a lot of different things that didn't get considered, or may have just begun to be considered for an individual who's getting ready to transition. Mike, I see your question about the same timeframe, and we'll have a little bit more discussion about that. But post some more questions about that as well. In the higher ed experience, I've been here at Pellissippi four years now. And I've been learning, and continue to learn lots and lots of new things. As an educator I look at what do the students that are coming into our curriculum need, and where are their gaps. As an AT service provider I touched on that a little bit, where in the past I was looking at a broad range of options. Now I'm looking at a lot smaller set of options. So that students who are needing to access the standard curriculum in a learning management system where there are documents, Word documents, PowerPoints, however that instructions being delivered, video, audio, that it is available in a format that everyone can partake of. We still have a lot of work to do related to accessible instructional materials.
And many of the tools that I have used in the past as an AT service provider are not accessible to someone who has a significant visual impairment, or who is blind. They may be cloud based. And the login screen is not accessible. You may be able to login but the navigation bar is not, does not have keyboard shortcuts. There's a lot of different things. As a parent, of course, I'm learning along with everyone else about all the ins and outs of financial aid, and the college application, and what the students have to do in order to submit their grades. And of course when I went to school it was all paper. And now it's all online and emails. And what my role is as a parent and where I can step in and where I should stay out. And then lastly as the staff member and disability services that does provide the assistive technology, and I'm dealing largely with mostly adult learners, or young adult learners.
That is a different environment than the K-12 environment where my role is still the same in terms of finding the right match in terms of assistive technology. Or finding the right products that will work. But it's less about making sure that the students know how to use it. I mean I do trainings. But I'm not constantly checking in with them in the way that I would be doing if I were a service provider at a resource center, or if I were working in a classroom, or being an advisor on a school campus. So the first place that we need to take a look for our students that are getting ready to transition of course, is the transition plan. It's part of the IEP. It typically begins at age 14. Pacer, I know, I think I saw somebody on the call from Pacer. Pacer has been a great resource over the years.
They were also one of the first resource and demonstration centers for assistive technology along with our center in Berkeley. So they've been producing lots of good information for a long time as well as I'm sure all of you that are on the call who are involved in this process at all know that the plan is supposed to be implemented beginning at 14. I have been away from the school system now for several years from K-12. So I don't know what's changed. How you're handling your transition plans. But the basic purpose is for the student to have goals and objectives for themself. That we as service providers have goals and objectives along with the student that we're gonna help them master, or help them explore.
I know in my state, in Tennessee, the Department of Vocational Rehabilitation tends to wait until the junior or the senior year of high school. Or if they're not leaving the school system at that level, but they're staying on until age 21 or 22, that they may not want to become involved until almost what we could consider the last minute. Which makes the transition plan difficult. But I think this is one of the documents that we can use to start the process, start the conversation. And depending on how you as service providers, you as people who are advocating for students, you as family members, for all of us, we all need to be looking at this document as well as the goals and objectives and trying to start the students at this stage of the game. When you go to our disability services website you'll also see information about a grant that we have, a contract with the Department of Labor and ODEP that starts looking at students at age 14. Of course they are not necessarily considered for anything at our college until they're actively enrolled, which they, in our state can't do until they're a junior. And that's when they become involved in dual enrollment oftentimes. If they meet the qualifications. So this is where we can start. Hello?
- [Unknown Caller] Yeah the,
- [Alice] What's different? So this is what has stood out to me. Mainly from our students and some of the family members that have come in to our program. It's really a very different world. And we know that. Those of you that have students, college age students, or adults that have gone through the process. It's different. That first semester, regardless, of whether they're staying at home and going to a local college, or local community college, or applied technology school, the focus shifts for those of us who have been in K-12. I had a really strong relationship with all of the parents of my students. The parents were equally involved. The focus was on the student. But is was on not only the student, but the parent, the family member, the guardian, whoever was on the team. From what I've seen, in my work in higher ed, the focus shifts pretty much all the way to the student. We do have parents that come into our office.
We'll talk a little bit about the release forms that students sign. But because the students are being asked to take on more of a role of engagement than perhaps they have in the past, it makes navigating the system a little bit difficult, if they haven't been given that information ahead of time. The major difference is that, there's no differentiation. There's no modification of the curriculum. The syllabus is the syllabus from the instructor. The assignments are the assignments. Unless it's up to the individual instructor as far as exams go, there aren't do overs. There aren't criterion based assessments where, except for certain checklists in some of our technical programs. But there are no ways that you can go back and say, oh, I wanna take that test over again. And mainly the laws that determine our options are different, and that's I think a little bit trickier for many of the students and the families.
The assistive technology options may be different as well. They may, a student may have had experience with particular products that for whatever reason they do not have available at the college institution. And lastly, the students must advocate for themselves. I get them started with their accommodations at the beginning of the semester. I check in with them a couple of times. I make myself available to them throughout the semester. But it's up to them to use the accommodations they have. To let their coordinator, who wrote their plan know that there's a problem. And to find those resources. The tutoring, the TRIO, if there are TRIO programs for first time students in the family, or veterans, or students with disabilities. Now we in the Disability Services office of course, provide them with, the kinds of information that they need. But we're not necessarily gonna go with them. We're not gonna say did you go back to TRIO? Did you go back to tutoring?
We might ask them again, if they come back and they're still having the same problems. But the students really have to take that on. For many of our students that is a difficult process. And that's part of the reason why my director wrote the grant that we have right now. We have one more year coming up on how do we provide academic coaching. How do we provide career options, and career exploration? So what are we looking at now that I think is different than we've looked at before. We've always looked at a focus on employment. At least I did when I was a classroom teacher. My students had severe disabilities, both cognitively, physically, sensory impairments before there was a lot of technology. So there are lots of people. PEAT is one place that will have some resources at the end, And ODEP. Really looking, starting to look more and more at employment options.
And looking at how we can increase the amount of people who have a disability being employed and being in the workforce. Because we do know that underemployment and non employment is huge. The second thing that I think is getting a lot more attention that it did before are those soft skills. Microsoft has done a lot of research. Places are looking at, yeah it's great that the students know how to use the technology, but if they don't know how to have a conversation, if they can't write, if they aren't on time, they don't know how to make decisions, all of those kinds of skills, that really are not necessarily the domain of college education although our students. We know that if they're under 25, their brains are not fully developed yet. But we are working through that within the college environment. Retention is huge as far as higher ed is concerned, across the board. And the other change that I've seen of late are these newer higher education options that are coming available to individuals, students with disabilities. There are four year experiences. The one that I'm most familiar with is at UT Chattanooga, where for students with Autism Spectrum disabilities, where they start that freshman year being paired up, being with someone in the Disability Services office where they're actively being mentored as far as how to live in the dorm, how to get to and from class. Those kinds of supports on into their junior year when they're connected with a mentor faculty member that helps them almost focus in on the level of interest and intensity that they're going to do to finish up their degree. The other options of course are certificate programs.
UT Knoxville, University of Tennessee Knoxville has one. Vanderbilt has one, many of these are coming up across the country where students are able to attend college classes. They're able to look at college courses. They need to have certain requirements met. I know at UT they need to be able to navigate the college campus. And unless things have changed there. I have not talked to David Sheak in awhile. What happens is they're looking for those faculty members that allow a student to audit. But students that are leaving these particular programs are to my knowledge only leaving with a certificate. They're not leaving with an associates degree, or a bachelors degree, they're leaving with certificates. And again I think we're still beginning to look at the data as to how many of the students complete those programs. Some are listed in the chat. And what the employment rate looks like. What does post college look like. We want everyone to be a lifelong learner but how does that happen? And in the day in age that we're in now where high school diploma limits your choices of employment in a lot of areas. And we want people to have at least two years of college. Or an associates degree to increase their opportunities to be employed. Great Barb I'm glad to here there is some good outcome data for those programs 'cause I have not looked at that as of late.
Even before I came to Pellissippi this was one of my favorite quotes, and my boss is definitely of the like mindset where we wanna teach our students to fish. We want them to learn how to do things on their own, and how to think for themselves, and how to find those resources. Not that we're not going to help them along the way. But it goes back to what I said just a few moments ago where in my previous jobs I would have been tracking people down. I would have been making a lot more followup phone calls. I would be trying to make sure that things were going well, that they had what they needed. I still have to catch myself when I'm showing someone technology about here's what you can do with it. But my role is not to help them with their homework. I can show them how to use the technology for their homework, or for something that they're trying to do. But not necessarily do the kinds of things that I've done in the past where I've had my educator hat on. I've had my planning hat on.
I've had my technology hat on. So that's I think where things begin to get a little bit difficult for all of us. So the search starts right. So what do we look at? Student preferences. Students have ideas about what they want to study, what they think they're interested in. Whether it's realistic or not. Because we want is try and find ways for our students to plug in as much as possible. College of course, unless there are other supports available may or may not be helping them try to figure out, yes I want this job, or yes I want that job. You may have career assessment options available to you that can help guide that process. Or they may have something that's you know, currently in their mind that they wanna do. Doesn't mean that that's gonna remain the same. As a parent I've watched my daughter, my students come and go as to you know, what kinds of things do they wanna study.
And friends who have gone the traditional college track who have changed their major two to three times. I'm hoping we don't do that. But even if they do, there's still I think a lot more choices to this generation of students than perhaps those of us that have been out of school for a long time. In the state of Tennessee we have Tennessee Promise which is a program that allows students after graduation to go to community college and receive an associates degree with very little cost to them. They have to maintain a certain grade point average. They have to do community service. They have to work with a mentor. But this is where I think we're seeing a lot more students begin to think about post secondary when perhaps they might not have thought about it before. Because there are beginning to be options across the country. I know New York has some things. In Tennessee, Tennessee Promise is one of the main ones.
We also now have one at the back end. If you have not completed your degree, or never got a chance to go for a degree and you're over the age of 24 you can come back now. That's called reconnect. So we're seeing more and more students. Especially on the end of Tennessee Promise where particularly family members are saying, oh great, you know, let's see how we can make this work. Which can be a good thing. It can be a challenge. It may or may not be available everywhere. Do they wanna get a certificate? Do they want to get a degree? What are the available supports? What kinds of supports are available at that particular higher education institution. Is vocational rehabilitation providing any kinds of supports? Our system has changed significantly since I've left the Assistive Technology Center. When I was there and doing voc rehab, work with clients, there were a lot more supports, a lot more things were paid for. A lot more things were available.
Transportation is a huge barrier for a lot of our students. So what are those supports that are out there? Those are the kinds of things that we all need to be looking at. And I sort of think that sometimes we have to look backwards. We have to start at what are the preferences, what are they wanna be able to do a year from now, if they're just leaving high school, or two years from now, because so many kids are getting more and more options. There are gap years. There are volunteer opportunities. There are lots of things that students are exiting high school can do, or want to do rather than going straight into college. And then what is it five years out? What does it look like? What are the options? What are the things that the data is saying about the employment rate. Or anything that a perspective college student, college bound individual would be looking for. Again certificate versus a degree.
Depending on what they wanna do, there may be advantages to both, or their goals may dictate a certificate's gonna be enough because I meet the standards of that industry versus I'm going to need a degree. Whether it's an associates or a four year. Whether or not universal design is available as a support, if you can get a sense of what's, what the student's learning style needs are. What kind of situations do they learn in best. Do they need small class size. And I think this is true for any student not just our students with disabilities. What kinds of places are gonna be better for that individual, are they gonna need to stay in town, they gonna need to live at home or that first year? Is that a possibility. Are they going to go away, but they need particular supports to meet their needs. Going away for the first time is hard for everyone. What are the accessibility issues, not just the environment as far as how are people gonna be around, or get to and from their classes.
But also the accessibility supports that are available for the curricular materials. If you have a student who's been using a screen reader because they are blind most of their life, then they're going to need to have that conversation even more so with the Disability Services office as well as some of the academic advisement to find out who has had the best success in terms of providing options. It's one of the things that when our coordinators work with students, since I don't write the accommodation plans, they're looking at who has the smaller class size. What teachers have already put into place some universal design practices, and made sure that they can supply accessible materials. Available supports of any kind. And again voc rehab and what their involvement might be. So those are just some things to consider as you're beginning to look through. Career assessments are really helpful again in terms of trying to figure out what the student preferences are if they don't already have them.
Some of the Tennessee Promise programs include that, we include it in our grant. But we also need to look at when college may or may not be the best fit. And what are those other options. And that's again another set of challenges when I'm not really sure, or maybe I wanna audit a class, but I'm not gonna enroll yet, those kinds of things. And again lifelong learning. We want all of our students to have for all of us to have the supports the scaffolds we need in order to learn, because we all learn things differently. We all learn new things differently. We all have skills. And we all have challenges. I like to look at my own learning styles and my own learning experience, and the challenges that I've had along with those of my students to give them an idea that they're not the only ones out there that are challenged. We all have areas of what we really like to learn.
What we're really good at learning. And we all have things that we have to learn that maybe don't come as easily to us. We all know that change and transition for a lot of our students is already challenging. And not just those students, again I'm thinking in terms of all students. That idea of going away and leaving your home base is a topic of great conversation at our house because of having never having done it. And I'm beginning to look at this, okay what are the plans for the back ups depending on what our final decision is. And how far away is the student going to be. And how are you gonna make sure that they have access to the funds and to food, and all of those kinds of things. So I'm at that ask for assistance level in a lot of things that I do because I have friends who have been through this process. I have colleagues who have been through this process. And I'm learning on a daily basis about what happens for our students as well.
Scaffolding is that term, I just threw this in here because it's a term that I think is important to know about in terms of the way that we work as adults and how we provide scaffolding to our kids. Whether we're parents, whether we're teachers that it supports them in learning those new skills and then as they take on more and more as they get older, as they're more able, when they can do it for themselves, then we remove those supports. But for many of our students, that time between putting in the support and removing it is either a very long period of time, or it may never be removed completely. So those are the kinds of things that we need to really research and look at when students are starting the process of looking at higher ed. That focus shift, again, all along through K-12, as long as our students are still minors, or if they're conserved, or if they have power of attorney, there's this dialogue that goes on with the family member regardless.
What struck me, in my first few months and first year at higher ed is this shift. That if there's not a FERPA on file in the student's record, then we don't talk to the parent. We might, well it's not that we won't talk to them. It's just that we won't talk to them about specifics. We won't be able to say, you know, this is what we discussed in a meeting. So the student may or may not know that they need to sign the document. We have it online now, it used to be that that they had to go to admissions and records to do it. But many parents are surprised at this. And many colleagues are surprised at well, you know, all along I've been able to talk to whoever I wanted to talk to, and I was able to get all that information. Like report cards, like transcripts. I don't think we have anything that can be reported about whether or not a student's going to class, unless that's something that the instructor wants to provide, but again, we've always had this dialogue as educators and family members, and team members of being able to have those conversations that we've always wanted to have, regardless.
It's tightened up a little bit as HIPPA has come into play. But this is one of the major things that I think people are again surprised by. That when a student comes in, if they decide to bring their parent, then we're focusing the conversation on the student. Waiting for them to answer. Asking them to focus on the answer. Trying to move them away from constantly looking at someone else to provide that information. And there's the, I had it in high school. And I'm sure that a lot of our students are aware of the kinds of accommodations, modifications, things that are being used in their programs, or they may not. So regardless, it's different. Regardless everyone has needs that are unique. They all have to learn new ways of doing things.
Finding their way around. What do I do when I go to the wrong room, or the class gets changed, or I get lost? Because there is no legislation that says that you get the same academic support that you got in high school at the college level. We still may look at the IEP or the 504 plan, or anything that is assisted, can assist us in making those decisions. We have some specific documentation requirements. But they're not going to get that, I had someone sitting taking my notes. They're not going to have someone read to them. They're not necessarily going to have the flexibility of being able to get up and walk around the room. So those are the kinds of things that students as well as all of us who are working with this age group need to understand. So when we're looking at remediation versus access we have to look at, what did the student do in the K-12 environment. I'm always asking did you do a lot of writing? And a lot of times I get the answer, no. Did you give speeches, no. What kinds of things did you have available to you? And then we have to look at what's available on campus, and what's available in the local community, because we're not necessarily gonna go back unless students qualify what we call co-requisite classes for reading, writing, and math.
If they score below a particular level on their ACT then they must take a co-requisite with reading, a co-requisite with english, or a co-requisite with math. And there are requirements for passing those classes before they can take anything else. Don't see a whole lot of questions. And in K-12 we have a lot of things that we do. We might read aloud to students. We might scribe the written work. We may have them come up to us, or meet with somebody at the end of the day, and say here's what your homework is for tomorrow. There's a lot of communication between school, staff, and home. There might be assistance getting around campus. Or changing the assignment. Or changing the language on the assignment. So that it isn't the same level. Yeah, great question about scaffoldings.
So when were, it comes down to what kinds of things are we doing in the teaching process. Are we giving a lot of support. For example, are we reading the text aloud to students. And then are we going the second extra mile when there may be new terms. Of course in any course you would probably be doing that for the background knowledge of that course. But are we doing that continuously or are we doing it just once. Are we constantly managing other aspects of the person's life for them, and then showing them how to do it, and then stepping back and waiting for them to see where they need more help. Are we changing that assignment so that they have the supports they need in order to make that assignment. Not that you wouldn't do that in a typical college class. Because when I've taught courses myself, I do that where I'm not giving them the whole assignment at once, if it's a semester long course. I've divvying it out.
But I'm also expecting them to go off and be able to do something independently or show me where they're needing more help. In some instances it's assistance in a class that they've had before, where someone sat in the class with them and done that scaffolding, or been kind of waiting in the wings in the event that it looks like there's a need. I hope that answers your question Ebony. Because it is, it is a way of helping people get started on a new skill. At our institution it is not common for professors to post class notes online, but it is something that some individual professors are doing. Some of them are starting to make sure that there's somebody in class that's taking notes, and that they round robin change that out, and then they have a place to put those notes. That's not necessarily going across campus at this point, it's still kind of an individual way that professors, at least at our institution are handling it. I don't know across the board. But it would be great if they did.
If would be great from a universal design perspective if students could exchange that kind of information. So I see some questions about alternate format textbooks and those kinds of materials that are done by the professors themselves. And hopefully we can address that as we go through some of this. So at our institution they're using technology for reading their text materials. They're doing their own writing. They have to manage their homework. They have to communicate what's going on. They have to learn how to get to class. They're responsible for coming to us when they're having a problem with an instructor. The test is the test. The assignment is the assignment. And when assistance is needed in class it's provided by the student. And when assistance is needed in class it has to be separated out. So for those last two things, what I mean by that, the student if they have a physical disability and they need a personal care attendant, that's not our responsibility.
So if they have a personal nurse or they have a personal assistant that goes with them to help get their materials out, take care of their personal needs, that's something that the student or the family arranges. And that assistance really needs to be separated out as far as academics because we don't really necessarily want the person taking notes, and then also being pulled aside for personal care issues. Does it have to be allowed, are you asking Barb about personal care attendants or are you asking about notes. Every school has a self disclosure type of form. But we do know that there are a lot of students who are not going to disclose. Particularly if they don't know what their actual disability might be or if they don't wanna be singled out, or they think that the instructor is going to call them out in class. They may not even understand what was on their 504 plan or their functional limitations.
Barb as far as it being allowed I'm not clear on what the law says about that. The personal support for note taking is part of the accommodation plans. So in the instance that I'm thinking of, one of our students does have someone that goes into the classroom with them to make sure that his physical state is accommodated and taken care of. He has trouble keeping his eyes open. He has trouble using his hands from time to time. So that is the part the family is responsible for. Personal support for note taking is part of the accommodation plan. Or assisting someone who maybe can't take pictures from the board, if that's on their accommodation. We have had, we do have a parent that does go from time to time with her student because of nursing staffing. It's tricky, it's very tricky. And that's where sometimes it gets a little bit difficult for family members who have been really involved with their students, in going to class or standing outside the door and listening, or being a note taker. It's very tricky.
But we do have a couple of students for whom someone that is not a college staff person is going with them to class. And it really does need to be focused on their personal care. Every institutions going to be different. So you really do need to pay attention to what kinds of things they'll accept. Testing does need to be on an adult scale. Families can check their insurance, they can find local resources. The accommodation plan of course, is going to be different than the IEP. There are not necessarily goals and objectives. There are ways of presenting information. Extra time on tests, where they take their tests. What kinds of material needs to be provided, an electronic format. Again the focus is on accessing the curriculum the same way that any student would.
I know there was a question, the same timeframe. So an assignment is given. There's a worksheet that has to be filled in. And that needs to be in a format that everyone can use so that they can complete it. The accommodation plan is the student choice. We have student choice where they come in they get their plan and they never give it to their instructor, until then they come back to us and say, oh well the instructor didn't give me my extra time on my test. Well did you give them the plan? So that goes along and in tandem with that self advocacy. You need to take responsibility. You need to let us know if you're having a problem. You need to turn in your plan. You need to become more independent. Which is hard for a lot of our students. Sometimes they can get accommodations from the Disability Services office in order to take their placement tests, or their ACT or their SAT.
But again, it's to let them demonstrate what they know, to access the information, so if the test needs to be read aloud. And maybe they don't want it. So we have a lot of students that they don't want all of their accommodations. They go on the plan. And yes you can order the book in PDF format. I'll take a couple questions at the end about accessible and electronic format materials. Because that's 35% of my job is getting the accessible materials. So here's a couple of things that student's can do to get ready. If you have assistive technology in your school systems, or if there is a resource and demonstration center, or someplace they can go. All the states now have technology, access project, places that people can go, visit those Disability Service offices. Go and see what kinds of technology do they have. How did they provide, especially if students have been getting any kind of electronic materials, anything through NIMUS, through repositories, through Bookshare, how does that work so that they're prepared.
Because the more they know their options the better they can take that active role. Looking for technology options, including assistive technology. Do they know how to email? Just because students are texting, they may or may not know how to email. Especially when you get a response back, when you say you missed your appointment would you like to reschedule, and you get, my bad back as the email. So we want to encourage our students to understand how to do certain things. They may need to establish some new routines, or work with an AT specialist. Or start learning how to take the bus. All of those things. What can we do as educators? Again we can become aware of what technology is out there. We can look at those transition plan goals and help the students find some opportunities, connect to higher ed or you know, just do the research of looking what's out there. What kinds of things are students needing to think about before they think about going to college. Opportunities to practice independent skills and especially those soft skills. All of those communication skills, executive function, all of those kind of things.
What we as family members can do, I don't necessarily need to know about assistive technology, but I'm always working on looking at technology for my daughter. And of course when you have a teenager, they're often saying, I already know about that. Connecting with educational staff and higher ed people, and again a lot of the same things. We as family members need to be available to explain things when they don't make sense. Because again, we know our student's brains, especially if they're leaving at 17, 18, that they're not fully developed. They may not get the subtle nuances. They may be sifting through those scary feelings of oh my gosh, I'm gonna go off to college, and oh my gosh, in this amount of time from now I'm not gonna be living at home. And to encourage that independence. We get some information Barb, from the performance information from the IEPs. I don't write the plans. And I don't look at the documentation.
But the coordinators do. And our students can get temporary accommodations for a semester if they have an IEP. But then they have to bring in, especially if it's someone that's needing an educational psychological, or a psychoeducational evaluation, they need to bring that in on that adult scale. And then of course, just some words as I was processing all of this, it really is a stressful process for everyone. The students are stressed. Some days they're not so stressed, other days they're up all night. We all need to be asking questions. We all need to take a deep breath, and say, okay, for tonight, we're not gonna talk about this. We're gonna go watch a movie. It is all going to work out. And it took me three years to get there. To where I wasn't stressing myself about what was my daughter's future. But if it doesn't, if my daughter goes off, or if your son or daughter, or student goes off, and it doesn't work, you know students transfer, students take a break. You'll find what works for you.
And again take care of everybody in the process. Make sure you eat. Make sure you sleep. Do what you need to do as far as getting through the day. Challenges, basically being patient, being available, that paperwork, the forms, all of that, and once you make a decision, get started as soon as you can. You'll have a new team to think about. New different people on campus. Different things, different places that you can go for information. And my contact. The second email is my personal email, but you can also reach me through Pellissippi. So as far as the electronic format materials and the textbooks, you, depending on your role, Amelia I don't know what your role is, when I was at the research center there was, or sometimes I could order the books in PDF, but sometimes not, because I wasn't with a college or a school system.
I use Access Text Network. I use the publishers when I have to, when the publishers are not members of Access Text. The PDFs may or may not be accessible from the publisher, so you still need to do some tweaking perhaps when you get them. AMAC which is through Georgia Tech, and other places like AMAC for a fee will convert your books. The publishers are aware of the issues. Benetech is using the, kind of the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval model with some of the publishers now to be able to say yes in fact, this book is accessible for screen readers for all kinds of different assistive technology. I'm not using the QIAT indicators for assistive technology necessarily. I certainly am aware of their work.
And I've been looking at it. We are moving to a new database called AIM, and that does have an AT profile in it which I haven't done with the students in the past, but I'm beginning to do it now as we're rolling out AIM in the next couple of weeks. Where how do you read best. Things that I've always asked them. But didn't have a place to document. What platform, what do you use for mobile. What have you used in the past. How do you learn. You know do you like it if you learn it and then you go away, and let me know what you need. Or do you want me to set up individual appointments. Those kinds of things. So I've looked at a lot of those indicators. What is different for me is that because we have had some Office of Civil Rights issues in the past before I was hired, I'm looking more for the assistive technology that everyone can use.
So that's making it a little challenging. If it's not keyboard accessible, if it's mouse driven, and doesn't have a lot of keyboard shortcuts, if there are buttons but they're not labeled. So I have a coworker who is a contract specialist, who's blind since birth and is JAWS certified and he helps me with all of that. We are very particular in looking at products. So we wanna be sure that everyone can use everything. Which is a bit more challenging than looking at the broader spectrum. Which I would have done if I were using the quality indicators. Oh wow, thank you Sarah. I appreciate the feedback. And if there are any kinds of questions that you have I hope that this is given you some things to think about. Am I understanding, students can sign a FERPA form in college, yes.
So they can designate who can talk, who we can talk to. So we have a database. When a parent calls, I look to be sure before I give specific information as to whether or not that's been signed. And that's just in the college records. So that's for all the students. Oh, you're welcome. This has been fun. This is my first time, and I've really enjoyed it. Thank you, thank you. Again feel free to reach out to me at any point if you have any questions. The archive and the PowerPoint will be up. Keep watching the website. And I hope everybody has a good rest of the day. Be sure you do your survey if you wanna get your certificate.