Module 1

Secondary Student and Parent Preparation for Inclusive Higher Education (Awareness and Practices in K12)

As a result of the Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008 and federal support to develop programs of supports and services, college opportunities for students with IDD have expanded across the United States. In 2016, Florida’s governor signed into law the Florida Postsecondary Comprehensive Transition Program Act. This law expands independent living, inclusive postsecondary education, and competitive integrated employment opportunities for students with intellectual disabilitie through degree, certificate, or non-degree programs. In Florida, postsecondary education opportunities can be pursued at public universities, state colleges, and technical colleges, as well as at private postsecondary institutions.

Due to these expanded initiatives, including programs that support students with autism, much has been learned about how to prepare students and families for this new opportunity. This module outlines policies and practices to increase preparation of students and parents for inclusive postsecondary education. It is written for special educators, secondary educators, transition specialists, and special education administrators.

Important Florida Resources to Support Preparation for Inclusive Postsecondary Education. Three key resources in Florida are important for staff who support transition-age youth who are preparing for inclusive higher education:

Florida Center for Students with Unique Abilities: The purpose of this center is to provide support to students, families, and institutions of higher education so that students with IDD can access on-campus college experiences that lead to employment opportunities.

Project 10: The mission of this organization is to assist Florida school districts and relevant stakeholders in providing secondary transition services to students with disabilities to improve their academic success and post-school outcomes. Project 10 serves as the primary conduit between the Florida Department of Education’s Bureau of Exceptional Education and Student Services and relevant school district personnel. The initiative aims to address law and policy, effective practices, and research-based interventions in the area of transition services for youth with disabilities.

Definition of intellectual disability: The American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities defines intellectual disability as a disability characterized by significant limitations in both intellectual functioning and in adaptive behavior, which covers many everyday social and practical skills. This disability originates before the age of 18 (AAIDD, 2020).

For more information on how intellectual and developmental disabilities are defined, please see the Florida Developmental Disabilities Council’s First Steps guide, chapters 4 and 5.