By Chrissy Booth
Academic Coordinator, Spinal Cord Injury Program, Shepherd Center
With the summer break drawing to a close, it is time to pack book bags, finish summer reading and, for students with disabilities, ensure that your school is prepared to meet your needs this year.
The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) requires public schools to provide a free and appropriate education to all elementary and secondary students in the least restrictive environment. Application of this mandate looks different for every student, so students with disabilities and their families should take the initiative to advocate for themselves in a few ways:
Even though colleges and universities don’t write IEPs or 504 plans, they still want to help you succeed. If you are college bound, contact your school’s office of disability services and schedule a meeting. Bring a copy of your diagnosis and a completed application for disability services. Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary this summer, Disability Services can offer you accommodations for classes, housing, transportation and any aspect of college life in which you hope to participate. Try to meet with disability services as early as possible because some accommodations take time to implement. For more guidance and support, consider applying to a program like The Ramp Less Traveled for college students with spinal cord injuries. Contact them at email@example.com.
Whether you are preparing for first grade or your first year of college, take some time to ensure that you are set up for success this year in school. If you are not ready yet, please reach out for support, and if you have developed successful strategies for accessing education, we would love to hear about your experience and share your ideas with others.
This web page provides more information on Shepherd Center’s rehabilitation program for adolescents with spinal cord injury. And this page describes the rehabilitation program for adolescents with brain injury.
CHRISSY BOOTH is the academic coordinator for the Shepherd Center Spinal Cord Injury Program. As such, she teaches middle and high school patients in Shepherd Center’s Hospital Homebound Program and helps adolescent patients return to school. She has worked as a chemistry teacher, health educator and curriculum writer. Chrissy has received the Excellent Educator Award and Star Teacher Award from Booker T. Washington High School in Atlanta. She graduated with distinction from Duke University in 2010. You may reach Chrissy at firstname.lastname@example.org
Shepherd Center, located in Atlanta, Ga., is a private, not-for-profit hospital specializing in medical treatment, research and rehabilitation for people with spinal cord injury or brain injury. Founded in 1975, Shepherd Center is ranked by U.S. News & World Report among the top 10 rehabilitation hospitals in the nation and is a 152-bed facility. Last year Shepherd Center had 965 admissions to its inpatient programs and 571 to its day patient programs. In addition, Shepherd Center sees more than 6,600 people annually on an outpatient basis. For more information, visit Shepherd Center online at www.shepherd.org