Program aims to help students with disabilities prepare for workplace

July 20, 2015 | Events, UToday, Judith Herb College of Education
By Lindsay Mahaney

A summer program at The University of Toledo kicked off last week geared toward students with disabilities as they transition into adulthood.

Each year the Career Exploration Program, in partnership with the Lucas County Board of Developmental Disabilities, offers a two-week camp that provides job and career experience to students with disabilities. This year’s program, hosting 12 students, started Monday, July 13, and will run weekdays through Friday, July 24, from 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

With the goal of helping secondary students become familiar with and practice skills needed to obtain a job, the camp offers vocational opportunities on and around UT’s Main Campus. Job sites include Schorling’s 5-Star Market, Ferdos Restaurant, Barnes & Noble University Bookstore, The Oasis, UT Facilities and Construction Grounds Services, UT Student Recreation Center, Phoenicia Cuisine, Carlson Library, Judith Herb College of Education, and Horton International House. While working, the students will perform numerous tasks, ranging from stocking and pricing clothing to preparing mailings to aiding in landscape work.

In addition to on-the-job skills, students have the opportunity to learn about employability skills — working as a team, decision making, problem solving, communication skills and budgeting.

“Research indicates that work experiences during high school years leads to better outcomes for students with disabilities whose goal is employment,” said Dr. Patricia Devlin, UT associate professor of early childhood, physical and special education, and director of the program. “This summer program helps individuals with disabilities explore options they may want to pursue.”

Participants also are mentored by graduate students from the College of Education who administer assessments and provide job-coaching support.

During the program, families are invited to a forum session offered in partnership with the Lucas County Board of Developmental Disabilities and Opportunities for Ohioans With Disabilities. The forum educates families about the various adult support services available as their children transition out of the K-12 system, Devlin said.

“The two-week program provides secondary students with disabilities an opportunity to choose and experience a variety or work settings, and it offers parents and family participants with information on how their young adults can be successful in the transition from high school to adult life,” she said. “In addition, College of Education graduate students gain hands-on experience of best practices in transition providing a link between their classroom and practical knowledge.”

For more information, contact Devlin at

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