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Why support for young adults with disabilities transitioning to adulthood is crucial

Meet Luis, a 25-year old with big plans for the future.

A young man stands in front of a tree wearing sunglasses and a grey shirt.

We all know — and dread — that question. “What are you going to do after you graduate high school?”

Some students may head off to college while others begin job hunting, but regardless, transitioning to adulthood is a difficult process for everyone with or without a disability. For many young adults with disabilities, transition services are crucial to help them find their place in the world. At Perkins, we offer transition support to students in the US, but we also provide this support in other countries. 

Perkins School for the Blind has been working in Chile since 1989. Since 2019 to the present, Perkins has collaborated alongside the Reinhard Frank Foundation in making quality education accessible to hundreds of children and young adults with multiple disabilities in Chile. This collaboration has focused on school improvement, teacher training, and the creation of job networks. 

Unlocking opportunities for young adults in Chile

One of the supported programs is CIDEVI, located in the Santiago Metropolitan Region, which focuses on providing care for people with visual impairments and deafblindness. During 2023, with the support of Perkins, CIDEVI has focused on a key area for all young people and adults: promoting labor inclusion. 

Perkins has provided support so that CIDEVI could access updated training on this subject area, through the course “Labor Inclusion Management Techniques”. This training provided the institution with new tools to identify the skills of the young adults and create more complete job profiles. In addition, during 2023, CIDEVI offered various workshops for their students, such as massage therapy, product sales, introduction to formal work and exploration of interests, where participants were able to explore different skills. They also provided training related to labor law and their rights, as well as CV preparation. Additionally, approaches to various companies were made, with the goal of creating new internship opportunities for students across different workplace environments. 

Macarena Salazar, an Occupational Therapist at CIDEVI, mentions that the internship project has enriched the education of students who are preparing for adult life. For her, this project allows a large number of users to explore new skills and acquire an experience akin to a real job or trade, where they must test their knowledge and communication skills, autonomy, proactivity, and adaptability to different activities.

Luis’s story

Among this group of young adults is Luis Olivares, a 25- year-old adult who began losing his vision in 2012, and who shared his story with us.

“At first the vision loss was not easy, since along with that loss, the dreams and projects I had were gone. But today, 12 years later, I have another story to tell. In 2016 I joined CIDEVI, a place that served as a true bridge to the world around me. That distant and difficult-to-explore world is no longer distant today, it has become part of my daily life. I have a life like many other people, I can take the subway, use a computer and I can even cook myself some delicious noodles. However, something that has ignited my hopes and aspirations, awakening new dreams and projects, is having gone through the internships where I was able to discover and demonstrate my abilities and strengths. Among them are my proficiency with technology and my organizational skills, as well as my responsibility in fulfilling tasks correctly and in a timely manner.

In the month of November I did an internship that consisted of working as a Warehouse Manager. I was given a credential with my name on it, so that I could access my work station on a certain day and time. The warehouse contained different cleaning supplies, and I was responsible for classifying the products and putting the information in an excel inventory, which I then had to send by email. This experience has ignited new dreams and projects in me, filling me with optimism for the future, showing that I am capable of performing different tasks autonomously in a job. I now have the experience and confidence to be able to apply for jobs in businesses and offices. 

For me, disability is not an insurmountable obstacle, people with disabilities can have autonomy, make their own decisions, have dreams and receive training to perform in the labor market. 

For me, blindness is not an impediment to being able to create connections, to be able to fulfill dreams such as having a family or meeting someone, or having my own house. My dream is that hopefully my life will be as normal as possible, and that I will be able to go out and meet new people. I not only like to share with blind people but also with people who do not have any disability just because I can show that it is possible, it is like being accepted by people at the end of the day. Of course I am mindful that I’m not going to be accepted by everybody, but I’m always going to try to be respected as I know I should also respect others.”

In 2024 CIDEVI continues with its active proposal to promote labor inclusion through the development of various workshops, with the aim of promoting socio-labor participation and autonomy among young adults to ensure a future of quality.

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