Renáta Tichá and Brian Abery.

The Institute on Community Integration is joining with the Association on Higher Education and Disability (AHEAD) and other partners to oversee and expand the National Center for College Students with Disabilities (NCCSD). 

Under a cooperative agreement from the U.S. Department of Education Office of Postsecondary Education, the consortium will create educational modules for faculty at institutions of higher education and educators working in transition programs. The consortium also will expand a national database of resources and provide educational materials and technical assistance related to transition planning to transition staff, parents, and young adults with disabilities. It will also evaluate the outcomes of these efforts.

“IEP and transition teams know that most jobs today, and in the future, will require more than a high school education,” said ICI’s Brian Abery, principal investigator (pictured at right with ICI’s Renáta Tichá, co-principal investigator). “This work is about ensuring that postsecondary programs have the resources to address the needs of people with all types of disabilities, with the goal of enhancing their opportunities for competitive employment and active citizenship.”

Through the partnership, NCCSD will begin addressing the specific postsecondary education needs of students with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD). Key partners will include administrators, educators, families, and students at institutes of higher education, transition programs, and high schools.

Wendy Harbour, associate executive director for programs and development at AHEAD, will oversee day to day operations of the center. 

Tichá will provide outcome measurement and other services.

“The timing of this project is fortuitous because of our ongoing work on improving transition services,” Tichá said. Tichá and Abery are leading an Administration on Community Living Project of National Significance that aims to increase employment, higher education, and community participation among Minnesota youth. “The connection allows us to leverage work in both projects to enhance post-secondary opportunities for all students.”

NCCSD provides technical assistance and training that supports the inclusion of students with all types of disabilities at universities, colleges, and other training centers.

“This work provides students with disabilities, family members, faculty, and staff the supports they need to make high quality education truly accessible and profitable for students with disabilities,” Abery said. “By profitable, I mean that they are closely connected to successful postsecondary outcomes. If someone spends years at an institution of higher education, we expect them to graduate with the skills and competencies needed to make the contributions to society they wish to make.”