Random Thoughts

Inclusion in School and Life


I had fun presenting Inclusion in School and Life at the Minnesota Department of Education’s Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD) Event on May 18th. My mom and I talked about the importance of inclusion, barriers I encountered in school, the importance of accessible curriculum and materials, and success stories from this past year after my high school graduation.

Some of my key messages included:

Justin in wheelchair in front of poster that reads "I think that stories, and each other, are the most valuable things that we have." Hank Green

  • It’s more than accessibility, it’s about inclusion. Inclusion means that everyone is contributing to a common goal however they can. For me, it means having accessible materials and discussion questions ahead of time, so that I can fully participate. It means taking the time to think and plan ahead for how to make sure everyone can participate however they can.
  • There need to be more options for transition programs for 18-21 year olds, instead of only the current model. Why not have transition programs located in public colleges and universities for college-bound people with disabilities that need support services or are continuing to work on Individualized Education Program (IEP) goals? Let’s provide real options, alternatives and supports for young adults with disabilities.
  • I have had positive examples of accessibility in the “real” world this past year. My first was with my US History through 1877 course at Century College. My professor was outstanding! Course materials, presentation and weekly quizzes were online and accessible. He sent me an email each weekend with discussion questions that would be asked in class, so that I had time to program responses into my communication device. For one of the first times in my life, I could fully contribute my thoughts and ideas in class. I learned so much not just about history, but how one professor can make a positive impact and difference by just taking some extra time to be organized and think about what I needed to be successful in his class. Thank you, Professor!

Next up

  • I have quit my Transition Plus program and will be continuing to take classes at Century College. I’m hoping to find support staff to help me out during the day. I really do NOT want to bring dad to college with me unless it’s absolutely necessary!
  • I am excited to have been selected to be on the Olmstead Community Engagement Workgroup. I will be bringing my voice and perspectives as the youngest person on the committee to advocate for meaningful options and alternatives for young people to have the supports they need to make their way in the world.
  • I’m planning for a summer of fun and advocacy. A family vacation to Toronto AND making my voice heard to legislators to protect Medicaid and other programs that people with disabilities need to live in their communities.

 

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