There are many steps that a student can take to exercise self-determination at home, in school, and in the community. The focus in literature around self-determination frequently centers around the student’s IEP, since the IEP is a key component of a student’s success in school and afterward. Many professionals in the field of blindness and vision impairment suggest that a student should lead her own IEP meeting. In the American Foundation for the Blind Transition to Work program, for example, the very first, activity for a student to complete is to take a leadership role in her IEP meeting. See the activity here.
If and when a student is able to run her own IEP meeting, this is a fantastic way for her to take control of her own transition process and the services she receives to work toward her future goals. However, for many students, running an IEP meeting can seem completely overwhelming. For a student with multiple disabilities or for a student who is simply extremely uncomfortable advocating for herself, leading the IEP meeting or taking part in doing so may take several steps to achieve.
The following activity is one step in the process of helping students take ownership of their IEP. This activity encourages a student to become familiar with the individuals who make up her IEP team and the roles that they play in her education.
- Copy of the student’s IEP
- Student’s preferred device for taking notes or recording information
- Ask the student to obtain an accessible version of her IEP.
- Together with the student, look at the list of individuals on the student’s IEP team. Can she identify the roles that each of these individuals play?
Ask the student to interview some of the individuals on her team to learn about the role they play in helping her achieve her IEP and transition goals.
Some possible interview questions include:
- What is your job title and what does your job entail?
- What is your role as a member of my IEP team? What role do you play during IEP meetings?
- What are the things we work on together or that we will work on in the future? What kinds of skills or resources can I learn from you?
- How do you see yourself fitting into my transition from school to adult living? Will you play a part in that transition?
- Some possible interview questions include:
- Ask student to summarize what she learned through her conversations with her IEP members.
- In addition to self-determination, this activity helps build skills for social interaction and communication, as well as compensatory and assistive technology skills. The activity can be adapted to emphasize addressing these skills. For example, a student learning to use a voice recorder to record information can practice using this to record an interview with a teacher. A student who needs to build social interaction skills can work on how to ask questions, listening skills, and appropriate presentation and body language during a conversation.
- This activity can also be adapted based on skill level. A more basic version of this activity could involve making a small book with the student about the people in her life who are there to help. For example, a book could be titled "Safe People Who I Can Ask for Help". Each page of the book has the name of a person in the student’s life (i.e. Mom, Dad, my teacher, my speech therapist), along with a corresponding photo of that person or a tactile representation of that person that the student can recognize.