Ability of WEST ABE Consortium to serve eligible adults with disabilities
Screening of students in ABE for disabilities happens as soon as the learner comes in to our classroom. The student completes an enrollment form and an interview with their instructor which includes questions that address past history of a disabilities, including learning disabilities.
Physical disabilities are often apparent and all classrooms in the consortium are fully accessible for learning disabled or handicapped students. If a learner does need assistive services such as a sign language interpreter, a scribe or Braille interpreter, WEST would seek guidance and resources from a supplemental service provider. In the past we have used assistive devices such as a magnifying glass, colored overlays, reading glasses, large print GED practice tests and closed captioned televisions to name a few.
Only last fall services were sought for a man in a nursing home. He was seeking his GED and accommodations in Delano would not fit an oversized wheelchair. A teacher went to the nursing home, conducted an interview and assessment test and the man was assigned a volunteer who is helping him study for his GED.
Learning disabilities are less apparent and teachers rely on students to self-identify initially. Students typically don’t have their Individualized Educational Plan (IEP) from their high school, but do remember and share information about accommodations that they received. It is important that these issues be quickly identified as these disabilities could follow them from ABE classes to their jobs or post-secondary experiences. It is more difficult with the ESL learner who is illiterate in their native language as it is difficult to know if learning challenges stem from illiteracy or a learning disability. In these cases, instructors will call on professionals in the field to assess needs and help develop an appropriate learning plan and testing accommodations.
The consortium has access to training and resources provided by the Physical and Neurological Disabilities Association (PANDA), the statewide supplemental service provider for approved ABE programs. The PANDA organization assists with reimbursing costs to ABE consortia for assessment and to have learners assessed for Specific Learning Disabilities for GED Accommodations. Other disability services that can be access through PANDA are:
- Training on Universal Design for Learning (UDL) and best practices in serving students with disabilities
- Lending library of resources and adaptive technology
- Online adult learner intervention system and disability screening on PANDA’s website
- Consultation services for serving students with disabilities
- Facilitation of disabilities outreach and advisory committee