Although educational outcomes have improved for many students who are deaf or hard of hearing in recent years, these young people continue to face challenges and barriers to success in post-school education and employment. It is important for schools to provide the best evidence-based transition supports and preparation so that school-leavers are equipped with the knowledge, skills, and abilities for a successful transition to post-school life.
In 2015, VDEI brought a focus on post-school transition to its professional learning program through a series of learning events. In terms 1 and 2, Dr Renée Punch presented a workshop and a series of webinars to teachers of the deaf.
Since then, she has developed two sets of narrated PowerPoint presentations for VDEI. The first one is for careers practitioners and other professionals supporting DHH students with transition preparation and career guidance. It covers transition needs for DHH adolescents, including identity issues that can arise at this time, self-advocacy skills, and specific supports available in postsecondary education and training and in employment.
The second set of PowerPoint presentations is designed for parents. It covers ways in which parents can best support their DHH adolescent through the career decision-making and transition process, self-advocacy skills, and postsecondary education and employment supports and resources.
In these presentations, there is a strong emphasis on the specific self-advocacy skills that are crucial to the post-school success of young people who are DHH. These skills include:
- understanding their own hearing loss and strategies to address their communication challenges
- best use and maintenance of their hearing aids, cochlear implants, and any other listening devices awareness of appropriate accommodations in workplace and post-secondary education setting
- ability to identify and access technological and other supports and accommodations
- understanding their legal rights in postsecondary education and the workplace
- knowing when and how to request help
- knowing how and deciding when to disclose their hearing loss.
As a follow-up to these professional learning opportunities, a team assembled by VDEI has adapted existing U.S. resources and checklists to develop a transition checklist specifically for DHH students attending Victorian secondary schools. The Self-Advocacy Checklist for Senior Secondary Students, it allows the student to assess their skills in important areas of transition-related self-advocacy by completing a 38-item checklist. During a follow-up discussion between the student and their teacher of the deaf, the teacher completes a scoring sheet. The skills identified as not yet mastered can then be used to contribute to the self-advocacy goals of the student's Individual Learning Program.
Grace Broadbent and Sharron Woolfe recently presented these transition resources, including the narrated PowerPoints and the Self-Advocacy Checklist, to teachers of the deaf and others at a twilight professional learning session at VDEI. The narrated PowerPoints are now available on VDEI's website and the Self-Advocacy Checklist and Scoring Sheet will shortly be accessible on the website. There is also a series of transition Fact Sheets on the website: http://www.deafeducation.vic.edu.au.