As one of eight regional centers funded by the New Jersey Commission on Higher Education to support college students who have disabilities, the Adaptive Technology Center provides training, technical assistance, and an equipment loan program to all colleges and universities in the state – two-year and four-year, public and private. The center strives to make students’ academic experiences successful through the use of appropriate assistive technology. One of the lessons we have learned in the past seven years is that success in college for students with disabilities is very much affected by the preparation they had (or did not have) while still in high school. That is why we are sponsoring a full-day conference on April 20, 2007 called Moving On: Promoting Successful Transitions to College or Community, and the reason we decided to focus this issue of TECH-NJ on the topic of transition from high school to college.
Our cover story, Planning for College Success for Students with Learning Disabilities, was written by Vincent Varrassi, a director of the Regional Center at Fairleigh Dickinson University and a nationally-recognized expert on transition. His article speaks directly to high school students and includes a great deal of helpful, practical advice. Three students with learning disabilities who are currently attending college are featured in the second article in this issue of TECH-NJ. They discuss their initial experiences at college and coping strategies that they have found to be effective.
Keeping with the theme of practical advice for high school students, the article on page 5 is written by LeDerick Horne, a young man with learning disabilities who graduated from two colleges with regional centers: Project Connections at Middlesex County College and Project Mentor at New Jersey City University. LeDerick told his personal story in the 2004 issue of TECH-NJ; in this issue he tells high school students how to survive the transition to college and how to make the most of their college experience.
The sections on Legal Issues and Resources both focus on the need for students with disabilities to have access to texts in alternate formats in a timely manner. The National Instructional Materials Accessibility Standards (NIMAS) and National Instructional Materials Accessibility Center (NIMAC) are explained, and the need for similar legislation at the higher education level is discussed. Under Resources, numerous internet sites are identified as good sources of electronic text and/or audio files. These files can be easily downloaded for reading with screen readers for students who are blind/visually impaired, with text-to-speech software for students with learning disabilities, and/or for listening on computers or MP3 players. Some of the web sites have files in braille format for blind students who prefer reading with refreshable braille displays.
We encourage you to share this TECH-NJ with high school students who have disabilities, their parents, special education teachers, child study team personnel, guidance counselors, and anyone else who is in a position to help students get ready to leave high school. Please contact us for additional copies -- (609)771-2610 or email@example.com -- or access TECH-NJ online at http://adaptivetech.tcnj.edu.
You may also be interested in accessing the New Jersey Higher Education Disability Support Directory from our website. This directory lists the contact information for every disability support office at every college and university in the state. It will help high school students research the colleges they are interested in and the supports that are available here in New Jersey.