As you get ready for school, there are lots of things to think about. What school or training program interests you? Which classes do you want to take? When you have a disability, you might also need to plan for extra supports.
Talk all of this over with people who care about you. Know what you need, and what you can do, so you can enjoy learning and do well at school.
It’s a big change to move on from high school to college, university, or other training programs. You may have more free time, and your teachers might not watch as closely to make sure you get your work done. You might have to find a new way to get to and from school each day. The supports you need for your disability might also be different.
A great way to set yourself up for success is to take lots of time to plan ahead. Here are some of the things you need to think about:
- How you will tell people about your disability. What will you say to the staff, instructors, and other students in your program?
- What supports you’ll need to help you do well in the program you choose. For example, will you need ramps to access the classroom, flexible hours to manage other appointments and services, or different ways of taking exams?
- Where you can find funding for supports that will help you do well. Here are some options to explore:
- Disability Related Employment Supports (DRES) helps pay for accommodations at school and work.
- Alberta Aids to Daily Living (AADL) helps you rent or buy supplies and equipment that you might need.
In Alberta, schools must take steps to help people with disabilities succeed. Most post-secondary schools have a disability services office where you can learn more about supports that are there to help with your education. You can also look into supports for students with permanent disabilities.
For more information, and steps to follow as you plan for your future, check out this Transition Planning Guide.
Choose the program that’s right for you
One of the first things to think about is the occupation you want to work in. This will help you choose the college, university, or training program that’s right for you.
Do your research! There are many college, university, and training programs in Alberta. You can also think about distance or online learning, to learn at your own pace.
Moving on from high school isn’t always easy. Sometimes it helps to learn how other students have done it. In these videos, you can see how Kyrsty, Mario, Vicky, and Chavo are exploring their futures:
High School Students With a Dream: Becoming a Journalist (6:37)
Kyrsty dreams of being a journalist. At first, her family was concerned that her disability might get in the way. But, as she planned her transition from high school and talked about her disability, it became clear that adaptive technology at school and work could help make her dream a reality.,
High School Students With a Dream: Becoming a Computer Technician (9:29)
Mario is interested in computers and wants to become a computer technician. As a student with a mental health disability, support from three places—at home, within the health system, and at school—can help him achieve that dream. As Mario plans for his transition from high school, he knows that smart goals and a team approach will be the keys to his success.
High School Students with a Dream: Helping Kids With Disabilities (6:32)
As a student with a disability, Vicky has learned how to be a strong advocate for herself. As she and her family plan her transition from high school, she's exploring how she can help others, perhaps as a psychologist or social worker.
High School Students With a Dream: Exploring Strengths, Interests, and Possibilities (8:42)
Although Chavo has a disability, he is surrounded by people who see his strengths. He enjoys cooking, which could become a career option for him. As they plan for his transition from high school, Chavo and his family continue to explore a range of possible careers that will make use of his abilities and prove fulfilling.
Training programs and services
Take some time to explore different services and training programs for people with disabilities in Alberta. For example:
- Alberta Supports and the Employment Services Directory can connect you to a variety of training, supports, and job opportunities in your community.
- Transition to Employment Services and the Transitional Vocational Program help adults with mild developmental disabilities get ready for work and live on their own.
- If you have a developmental disability, you may want to explore options for inclusive post-secondary programs.
How will you pay for your education?
Most students use a number of different ways to pay for their education after high school. For example, they may use savings, get help from their family, and access government supports.
But when you live with a disability, there are funding options set aside just for you, such as grants and scholarships. Here are more resources you can explore:
- The Alberta Student Aid funding guide lists grants for students with permanent disabilities.
- The Government of Canada offers education funding for people with disabilities.
- If you get support from the Canada Pension Plan, the Vocational Rehabilitation Program can help you look for a job, pay for job training, and find a job.
- GrantMe lists 10 scholarships for students with disabilities in Canada.
Take the time to get it right
If you plan carefully and look at options for the supports you need, you’ll set yourself up for success at school. Remember, the disability that you live with is unique and there’s no one-size-fits-all plan. What you decide for your future, and how you get there, is your choice. Take the time to plan well, and find the path that works for you.