Schools face a unique set of difficulties in preparing students with special needs for college and careers. Students with disabilities have lower employment rates, are unemployed more often, and when employed, tend to earn lower wages than their peers without disabilities. Students with disabilities also face unique struggles in post-secondary settings. These difficulties indicate that transition services for students with disabilities may not be changing to meet the needs of college and career readiness (CCR).
Due to the increasing prevalence of technology in the workplace, information technology (IT) literacy has been identified as a key CCR skill. However, IT literacy has largely been absent from special education transition services. This study examined the effectiveness of integrating IT literacy into a transition curriculum. An online IT literacy curriculum was given to an intervention group of secondary students with disabilities. A comparison group of students with disabilities received business-as-usual transition services. An important difference between the groups was that students in the intervention were delivered the IT literacy curriculum in a dedicated career and vocational class period. Whereas, the control group received services during unstructured resource room time.
To understand their perceptions of the program, students in the intervention received a satisfaction survey. Results from this survey showed that students who received the IT literacy curriculum felt their skills had dramatically improved in areas such as using the Internet, knowledge about a career of interest, and goal setting. After controlling for students’ demographic and disability differences, results from this study also showed increased IT literacy scores for students in the intervention group compared to those in the control group.
Although the comparison group did develop some IT literacy skills independently, this study shows that a dedicated CCR class with a focus on IT literacy was beneficial for students with disabilities. These findings provide evidence that college and career readiness transition services were beneficial for students with disabilities to develop in-demand IT skills. As we prepare students for their futures, it is important to consider how to support all students in the transition between high school and college or careers.
Lombardi, A., Izzo, M. V., Gelbar, N., Murray, A., Buck, A., Johnson, V., ... & Kowitt, J. (2017). Leveraging information technology literacy to enhance college and career readiness for secondary students with disabilities. Journal of Vocational Rehabilitation, 46(3), 389-397.Image: by Faustin Tuyambaze via StockSnap.io