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Collaborative Efforts: Supporting Transition Students Transcript

[Title slide appears]

Collaborative Efforts: Supporting Transition Students

Elise Knopf; M.A.

State Coordinator for Deaf Services-VRS

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[Screen fades and Elise Knopf appears. She is facing the camera and smiling. She begins to sign.]

- A high number of deaf and hard of hearing students attend college. Most students complete their college experience, but take significantly longer than their peers who are able to hear. Research has proven that there are five predictors for success- Peer group support, parental support, high expectations, access to quality resources and services, and literacy skills. All of these five factors lead to what we hope are successful student outcomes. 

[A photo of Elise wearing a graduation hat and gown briefly appears to her left side before fading. Elise continues to sign.] 

- In looking back and my personal experience, I was fortunate to have all five of these components. I was a part of a high school and college volleyball team. My peers who were able to hear, I grew up with an oral approach and learned sign language later in life, were an important part of my life. My parents had high expectations for me. College was nonnegotiable. It was just a matter of where. I had high expectations in my life as well. No one expected anything less from me. I met with a vocational rehabilitation services, VRS, when I was a senior in high school, the summer before my senior year. In meeting with that VR counselor, I was able to identify my strengths and weaknesses and have access to services that I benefited from greatly. My school counselor also guided me through the college application process. I was able to submit several applications, and in the end, I decided on Cornell College because of their unique approach to education. There I took one course at a time, where I was able to intensely study an intensive class for three weeks at a time. It was nice because I only had to work with one professor at a time and understand them with lip reading. Class sizes being small was another benefit of Cornell College. I had anywhere from eight to 30 students in my class. I am fortunate that I had access to a lot growing up. But that started my passion for ensuring that deaf and hard of hearing students have equal opportunities to succeed. I joined the Collaborative in about 2011 or 2012 and have been involved for the past eight years. The Collaborative is a wonderful group of stakeholders that work together as we notice that we work with the same students and need to serve them better. The Minnesota Department of Education, Minnesota Hands and Voices, Vocational Rehabilitation Services, Independent Living Services, Mental Health Service, and parents make up this group. We noticed at the time that education and VR policies were shifting. More demand was being put on services. Budget cuts were happening. And there was increased applications for VR services. There was a waiting list at the time. This group of stakeholders convened to ensure that we supported students, and we decided to develop what we now refer to as the Guide for Transition Services. 

[Screenshot of the webpage with the Guide briefly appears to Elise’s left side. Elise continues to sign.] 

- The Guide was developed to help relieve some of the stressors that the teachers were feeling in filling out individualized education plans or IEPs. It also assisted vocational rehabilitation counselors in employment planning. The Guide incorporates check lists, forms, feedbacks, and tips, as well as timelines for students in ninth grade all the way until they enter college or the workplace. Developing the Guide was an enjoyable experience, but we realized that the teachers weren't utilizing it as we had hoped. So, we decided to develop the component of webinars and post them online. We wanted to have the teachers be able to access the Guide and also watch supplemental material in order to understand how to better use the guide. And we did have success. And the most enjoyable part of this experience was incorporating the students' success stories. Listening to these students share their experiences, the young adults discussing how those services impacted their life and how they engage with their peer groups was wonderful. Those success stories are really the heart of our guide. Many families felt an increased amount of hope for their child in watching these success stories. Whether they were hoping that their child attended college or future employment opportunities. We had an international, as well as national, visibility. We worked with the University of Minnesota's data system to analyze the number of hits. We realized that many people not only were viewing the materials, but also downloading materials and utilizing them. It's wonderful to know that this resource is being utilized by so many. The Collaborative continues to meet, and we have high hopes for our experiences in working together as a group for the benefit of students who are deaf and hard of hearing. Together, we can.

[Ending credits appear.]

Thanks to: 

The Minnesota Commission of the Deaf, DeafBlind & Hard of Hearing for supporting the development of the TED Talks. 

Talent – Nicole Brown, Jay Fehrman, Danelle Gournaris, Elise Knopf, Jody and Logan Waldo.

Interpreters – Gina Alvarado, Emory David Dively, Quincy Craft Faber

InHouse Media

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