The Work Skills Preparation Program at The College of New Jersey (WSP@TCNJ) is a two-week residential summer program for extended school year service and transition/vocational assessment for youth who are blind/visually impaired with complex educational needs. This program utilizes highly specialized approaches to the education of youth who are blind/visually impaired through highly qualified experts in the field of vision and blindness education.
The participants are high school students (ages 16-21) who are blind and visually impaired with additional disabilities and who would benefit from an employment outcome upon graduation with or without supports. The program is staffed by highly trained professionals and upper class college students who are supervised by TCNJ program directors and selected CBVI staff. There is approximately one staff to every two-three students during the day and evening along with 24 hour nursing services. During the night there are two awake staff in the residence to monitor the halls and to ensure the safety of the participants.
The WSP@TCNJ program is designed as a comprehensive vocational program that provides skill reinforcement and assessment of critical factors involved in transition from school to a successful adult life. A written assessment is provided at the completion of the program to help both the parents and schools include appropriate Transition goals in the student’s IEP. Recommendations are made in the following areas:
• Job Site Experience and Job Sampling
• Academics (Literacy and Numeracy)
• Orientation and Mobility (travel skills)
• Self Advocacy and Self Determination
• Person-Centered Planning and Goal Mapping
• Accessible Technology
• Skills of Independence (ILS)
What will the WSP Student(s) gain regarding Work, Academics, Social Skills, Independent Living?
• The work experience component of the WSP program was designed to give our participants relevant experiences in real jobs to ascertain their preferences and interests to assist in their career development.
• Students spend half of each weekday sampling different employment sites both on and off campus.
• Authentic assessment approaches during these work experiences are utilized to assess individual student social skills, executive functioning and overall work readiness.
Students develop a Work Portfolio that illustrates their person-centered plan to be shared with those involved in supporting the student while he/she plans for his/her future. The Portfolio includes: resume, samples (including photographs) of work experiences, interests, preferences, and support needs.
Students (16-19 years old) spend half of each weekday in classes that focus on literacy & numeracy skills for successful employment. Authentic assessment approaches during activities of literacy, learning and access technology are utilized to assess individual student skills and the quality of his/her access to academics.
Students (19-21 years old) spend 2 hours of each weekday learning the “soft skills” or social skills that are essential to obtain and maintain gainful employment.
Students will participate in a variety of preparatory activities such as:
• Barriers to employment
• Communicating on the job
• Advocating for support
• Interview/first impression: Role playing
• Teamwork: Working with natural co-workers, bosses, job coaches
• Resume Writing
Independent Living Skills
The college campus is an ideal setting for the students to practice managing their time, money, travel, and personal needs.
Life Skills Facilitators organize lessons to teach students Activities in Daily Living (ADLs):
• Personal Hygiene
• Bed Making
• Light Cleaning
• Nutrition and Exercise
• Food Preparation
• Handling/Budgeting Money
• Emotional Well-Being and Conflict Resolution