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Advocacy for Youth's transition to Adulthood


Advocacy for Youth’s transition to adulthood

As the caregiver of a youth with deaf-blindness, you face many challenges every day. You have hopes and dreams for your youth, and you want their educational services to help them develop and learn. The youth approaches adult life, it is critical for him/her to be aware of support needs, and that the college, work, and community settings must provide reasonable accommodations if s/he is aware that they are needed.

“Kids are smart. Knowledge is power. Let them figure things out. Don’t turn into that grown-up who they won’t come to.”     Lauren Myracie

The development of an effective transition to adulthood plan for your youth with deaf-blindness will serve as a “roadmap” for your youth’s future. You and your youth need to consider five areas when thinking about life after high school:

Post-secondary education/vocation: What kind of post-secondary education is realistic and appropriate? What skills are needed?

Employment: What are your youth’s career goals and what skills do they need? The plan should address how you will get help to apply for and access those services through the State Commission of the Blind.

Independent Living/housing: Consider transportation, getting around the community, food shopping, meal planning, and preparation, using money/making change, personal hygiene, and social relationships. If s/he is eligible for support from other agencies, the plan should address how you will get help to apply for and access those services.

Health: Transferring responsibility for self-care to your youth requires consideration of factors such as complexity of health needs, physical and intellectual abilities of your youth

Reasonable accommodations: The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 provides civil rights protections to persons with disabilities similar to those provided on the basis of race, sex, national origin, and religion.  The ADA prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in employment, state and local government, public accommodations, commercial facilities, transportation, and telecommunications.

Finally, in order to live active, integrated, productive lives, many people with disabilities require supports and services. With your support and guide, show your youth how to find the services h/she needs.

Co-facilitators: Cecelia Norman and Chris Woodfill

Cecelia "Cece" Norman joined the HKNC staff in January 2017 as a regional representative providing assessment, consultation, technical assistance, and information referral.  Prior to this role, Cece worked as a clinician at the Lexington Mental Health Center in New York. Her previous employment included a substance abuse counselor for the Family Service Foundation in Frederick, MD, and a family educator at the Model Secondary School for the Deaf in Washington, DC. She received a B.S. in Family Studies from the University of Maryland and a M.S.W., Social Work from Gallaudet University.

Chris Woodfill was appointed associate executive director at the Helen Keller National Center for Deaf-Blind Youths and Adults (HKNC) in 2014. In this position, Mr. Woodfill supervises 60 employees in five departments --vocational training, admissions, interpreting, residence life and the community service program-- and monitors the budgets of each department. He also facilitates HKNC’s Professional Learning and Leadership Institute, deaf-blind self-advocacy training, the Young Adult Summer Program, and cultural diversity and sensitivity training programs.  Mr. Woodfill earned an M.S. in deaf education from McDaniel College, an M.A. in Latin-American studies from George Washington University and a B.A. in history and Spanish from Gallaudet University. He serves on the boards of the World Federation of the DeafBlind and of the American Association of the Deaf-Blind.

Cecelia Norman

Posted 11 Mo. Ago by Cecelia Norman

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Comments (4)

Thank you Cecelia and Chris for agreeing to host this next topical. I like the five areas one should consider when thinking about life after high school. What role would families play in this if any?

Mike Fagbemi

Posted 10 Mo. Ago by Mike Fagbemi

Coming Soon…. Advocacy in the Deaf-Blind World (ADBW):
This online training series was specifically developed to increase awareness and knowledge of how deaf-blind individuals can most effectively self-advocate for optimal access to; direct communication, transportation, print/media and technology application, personal and professional SSPs and their environment via orientation and mobility accommodations. The series was designed for deaf-blind consumers, family members and service providers. Each module consists of presentations by deaf-blind professionals, personal stories, resources, assignments and an evaluation tool. The course was created to be as accessible as possible. Sign language interpretation, captions, full transcripts and image and video description are included on all HKNC products and resources.

To see an overview of this course please go to:

Cecelia Norman

Posted 10 Mo. Ago by Cecelia Norman

Thank you Debra Pickens - you are a good role model as an advocate showing other parents how to teach their youths to be interdependent. Thanks for your good words about HKNC's excellent programs. As for your son's summer internship, check out the websites that might be good for him to explore.
* HKNC - Professional Learning and Leadership Institute:
* Seed & Spark - this organization just produced the short film called "Feeling Through" - The unlikely connection between a teen without a home and a DeafBlind man, made in association with the Helen Keller National Center to cast a DeafBlind actor.
* Blind and Beyond Radio show located in Orlando Florida with the focus on the delights and challenges of leading a successful and productive life as a person with vision impairment.

Wish your son the best in finding full-time employment after his graduation.

Cecelia Norman

Posted 11 Mo. Ago by Cecelia Norman

My son is in the process of transitioning to adulthood. Every year I made it a point to let go of something major and let him figure out how to get it done. It wasn't easy, but it was worth it! Now I have to rely on others to train him because I am just "mom" and I am beginning to love being just mom. I teach him to be interdependent because we all need someone at some point in our lives. He advocates for what he needs for his college courses, but if it takes more than two weeks to get his assignments brailled up, then mom steps in and meets with the Director of Disability Services with him. HKNC has excellent programs to help our youth develop a transition action plan and implement the plan! Now he is working an internship in hopes of finding full-time employment in a year or so. If anyone knows of summer internships in the entertainment/radio industry, please pass along the information, so I can get it to him. His major is Mass Communication with a minor in Journalism.

Debra Pickens

Posted 11 Mo. Ago by Debra Pickens

NCDB : The Research Institute : Western Oregon University : 345 N. Monmouth Ave. : Monmouth, OR 97361
Contact Us: 800-438-9376 |

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