Self-advocacy and accessing support
Throughout their school years, a range of people (including parents or carers and teachers) plan, advocate for, and support a student with disability. When reaching adulthood, the student becomes responsible for planning, advocating, and accessing supports.
Opportunities to practise advocacy in a safe setting can help them to later engage in self-advocacy in other situations (such as a workplace).
University, TAFE, Training college
Students can visit education settings while at high school as part of the transition process to reduce the unknown and/or anxiety around 'where to next'.
Some post-school education facilities may have peer mentors who can support students with transitions. Identifying and exploring how to access a range of supports within the chosen facility may be helpful.
Disclosing a disability is a personal decision, however, is important in relation to work experience and structured workplace learning. Information for all stakeholders is included in the Student Placement Record (SPR). See guides and forms for more information.
Disclosing a disability can be beneficial if it leads to the implementation of workplace or training or education accommodations. Discuss with the student the pros and cons of disclosure, what to disclose and not disclose, and when to disclose.
Some students with disability may be reluctant to report their disability if they worry about stigma or a lack of inclusion. It may be helpful to talk with them about their concerns and explain their rights to privacy and confidentiality when disclosing they have a disability.
Role playing and pre-interview practice with scripts can also help them practise what they could say, and frame accommodations from a strengths-based perspective.
If a student does not wish to give full disclosure, they may be able to meet with a supervisor to discuss changes that would increase their productivity (for example, “I find I get through my work more effectively in the morning before others arrive”).
Funding supports may be available for some students with disability to assist with making the workplace accessible or safe.
Asking for accommodations within their workplace may be daunting for some students. Provide opportunities for them to practise talking through their concerns, and their rights under the disabilities act.
Teaching students how to request accommodations may be helpful. For example, teach them to:
- Identify specific changes that would be helpful
- explain why these changes would be of benefit
- consider whether the changes are reasonable, and
- identify how they provide solutions to previous challenges with performance.
Students with disability may not recognise discrimination when it occurs, or they may not know what to do if they are being discriminated against.
Some students may face further stigma or discrimination if they are from a minority background, such as Aboriginal students or students whose first language is a language or dialect other than English (EAL/D).
Educating students about their rights and responsibilities under the Disability Discrimination Act may be an important aspect of preparing them for post-school life.