High School/High Tech
The High School/High Tech Program (HS/HT) provides opportunities for students with all types of disabilities to explore exciting careers in science, mathematics, and technology. The program is one of several initiatives of the Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP)
In the past year, ODEP has worked to ensure that the HS/HT program reflects the latest in evidence-based research on what youth with disabilities need to transition to employment successfully. HS/HT sites strive to deliver sites are incorporating four design features into their programs: preparatory experiences, connecting activities, work-based experiences, and youth development and leadership activities.
- Preparatory Experience
This design feature includes activities and services undertaken by youth at the program site or collaborating education site in accepting and nurturing environments that relate to career assessment (formal and informal), opportunity awareness, and work-readiness skills that includes learning about computers.
- Connecting Activities (Program Linkages)
This feature examines the connecting activities necessary to assist participants' transition to their next phase in life - one that will hopefully provide for economic self-sufficiency. The focus is on services and activities requiring support from other organizations, such as tutoring to improve academic performance, assistive technology to address accommodation needs, mentoring and transportation.
- Work Based Experiences
Work-based experiences include a range of activities that build up to on-the-job experiences. These include site visits, job shadowing, internships, entrepreneurial ventures, and paid employment. Such experiences are an essential component to promoting informed choice in high tech jobs.
- Youth Development and Leadership
Youth development and leadership activities help young people become self-sufficient and productive members of society. This design feature includes providing supportive adults, developing independent decision-making skills, encouraging service learning, and promoting the development of self-determination and self-advocacy skills.
HS/HT programs depend on community involvement and require partnerships between many stakeholders, depending on the dynamics of the locality. The programs flourish when public/private partnerships develop around the design features. Suggested HS/HT partners include Workforce Investment Boards, Vocational Rehabilitation agencies, school systems, colleges and universities, disability service providers, employers, and families.
Technical assistance and support to HS/HT sites nationwide is provided by the ODEP-funded National Collaborative on Workforce and Disability for Youth (NCWD/Youth). With the support of NCWD/Youth, ODEP has produced a new HS/HT Program Manual, which will assist HS/HT sites in incorporating the transition design features into their programs. To learn more about starting a High School/High Tech program in your state, contact NCWD/Youth.