young man sits at table with interpreter doing tactile sign language communication

Getting to work: assessment and skill-building for careers

Career education for students with disabilities happens at every age and stage of development, and not just in the classroom. That's why starting early is critical.

Career education is one of nine life skill areas that students with visual impairments and multiple disabilities learn through the Expanded Core Curriculum. Career education happens at every age and stage of development, and is not restricted to a classroom setting.

Students begin to develop work-related skills when they do chores in their home, and continue to build on these skills throughout their years in school. They do so by learning to follow directions, take turns, complete tasks, problem solve, work in groups and socialize.

In this video, Dr. Karen Wolffe describes the importance of starting very early in a child’s development for the student to develop the necessary skills to achieve success.

If you’re a service provider or if you’re a parent, you must always be thinking about next environment.

It’s not about today. It’s about tomorrow.

Every skill we teach, whether it’s an infusion of expanded core, whether it’s academic skills, we need to connect the dots. Is it leading to next environment skills needed so that they can be successful?

Dr. Karen Wolffe

Students benefit immensely from experiential learning; it helps to ensure they are ready for life after school. Some goals for career education include:

  • Self awareness
  • Work habits
  • Social skills
  • Technology skills 
  • Requesting accommodations
  • Informational interviewing
  • Time management  
  • Job search skills 
  • Job shadowing 
  • Workplace tours
  • Interview skills 
  • Building a resume

Skill progression 

Early on: 

In middle school: 

In high school: 

The evidence continues to grow that work experience in high school is one of the strongest predictors of adult employment for youth with disabilities” 

(Leuking, Fabian, Contreary, Honeycutt, & Leucking, 2018: Wehman et al., 2014).



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