How to Apply for a Vocational Rehabilitation College Grant

December 21, 2011

By Lindsey Webster

Masters in Counseling logo

The Vocational Rehabilitation Act was ratified in 1973 and has the purpose of protecting those with disabilities from discrimination, especially in the work place. The act also provides federal assistance for vocational counseling, training and job placement for people with mental and physical disabilities.

Every state has a department or division of vocational rehabilitation with offices located throughout the state. If you or one of your family members is interested in going to college, and has a physical or mental disability, your state’s vocational rehabilitation department can help them apply and receive school grants.

The process is simple, and because it is a grant, you will not be responsible for paying back the money when you graduate. Listed below are the steps to take to receive a vocational rehabilitation college grant:

  1. Call your local vocational rehabilitation office and explain your situation: Tell them what type of disability you or your family member has and that you or they are interested in going to college. Ask what steps you need to take to apply for a vocational rehabilitation grant. To ensure grant funds will still be available, you should contact the office at least five months before beginning your first semester of college.
  2. Set up an appointment: In most states, you will be assigned a vocational rehabilitation caseworker. This person will work with you throughout the years as you attend school. In your first meeting, you may need to bring a note from your family doctor or psychologist verifying your disability (this is especially true for those with mental disabilities).
  3. Verify the grant with your school’s Financial Aid Office: Once you have been accepted to a school, been approved for vocational rehabilitation assistance and received the grant, you will need to visit your school’s Financial Aid Office to verify their receipt of your grant information.
  4. Stay in touch: In order to continue receiving vocational rehabilitation assistance, you will need to periodically meet or speak over the phone with your rehabilitation counselor. Most state vocational rehab departments will also require you to submit doctor’s or counselor’s reports on the status of treatment for your disability every semester. You will also need to submit your grades to your caseworker at the end of every semester. If you do not comply with these requirements, your grant (and any other assistance) can be revoked.

Keep in mind that every state vocational rehabilitation office functions a little differently, although the overall process is very similar. For information on how to receive assistance, contact your state’s individual department.

Lindsey Webster has been a rehabilitation counselor for 15 years and also owns the site Masters in Counseling  She likes to write about different topics related to counseling and careers.


What Every Woman Should Know About Reproductive Health Care

December 9, 2011

By Heather Becker, Ph.D. and Shauna O’Neal, Nursing Student

The University of Texas at Austin School of Nursing

When you are busy with class assignments and the demands of life on campus, thinking about your reproductive health may seem like a distant priority.  But for women, reproductive health care – including both sexual health and family planning– is something to think about.  Know that you have the right to quality reproductive health care.  That means health care providers should make their offices physically accessible, from the front door to the examination table. Your medical provider should have information on providing accessible facilities; in 2010, the U.S. Department of Justice Office of Civil Rights prepared a booklet entitled “Access to Medical Care for Individuals with Mobility Disabilities” (available at that explains what is required under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Yearly examinations to check for vaginal infections, cervical tissue changes, and changes in breast tissue are an important part of staying healthy. Even if you’re not sexually active, your doctor can answer any questions you may have about abnormal periods, unexplained pelvic pain, or starting sexual activity at your annual visit. The Federal Affordable Care Act now makes these well-women visits low or no cost to you. It’s possible to make your visit go more smoothly by alerting the staff about your disabling condition when you make an appointment—this allows them to plan ahead for extra time, staff, or equipment, if necessary. Your provider should discuss your reproductive health care with you – including methods of birth control, testing for sexually transmitted diseases, and answering questions about sexual behaviors. Your obstetrician/ gynecologist may not have treated other patients with a disability such as yours, so he or she may not be an expert in your disability. Choose a doctor or nurse who is willing to listen to your expertise in living with a disability, and willing to provide you with outside informational sources if there’s something they don’t know. This is a great opportunity to forge a “teamwork” relationship. You both want you to be healthy!

Down the road, you may wonder if you can or want to parent a child. Most women wonder about family planning, at some point. This is something that each woman must decide for herself, but if you do want to have a child, Dr. Coble-Temple – herself a woman with disabilities – offers the following advice:

Have a positive sense of yourself

Know how to locate information on pregnancy and disability

Get support from family and friends

Prepare and Plan; Figure out what you can do and what you will need help with

Trust yourself

The following websites provide additional information for women with disabilities about reproductive health care and parenting.

Center on Research for Women with Disabilities < >

Through the Looking Glass <>

If your doctor or nurse is not familiar with treating women with disabilities, you might suggest they check out the following website for OB/GYNs sponsored by the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists:


November 30, 2011

Cover Page of book "Developing College Skills for Students with Autism and Asperger's Syndrome

By Sarita Freedman, PhD

In 1995 the world was witness to an explosion in the number of individuals diagnosed with Autism, especially High Functioning Autism (HFA) and Asperger’s Syndrome (AS).  The Center for Disease Control quotes current incidence rates in the United States as 1 in 150, in sharp contrast to previous rates of 1 in 10,000.  These rates appear to be consistent world-wide.  Young children who received diagnoses of HFA or AS are approaching young adulthood and, due to increasing publicity about autism spectrum disorders (ASD), previously undiagnosed adults are seeking diagnosis and treatment.

So, what is life like for adults who never received intervention?  Mr. Tim Page writes one of the most eloquent personal accounts I’ve read to date in his article, Parallel Play (The New Yorker, August 20, 2007).  Mr. Page notes that the symptoms of AS include, “early precocity, a great ability to maintain masses of information, a lack of ability to mix with groups in age-appropriate ways, ignorance of or indifference to social norms, high intelligence, and difficulty with transitions, married to a preternatural ability to concentrate on the minutia of the task at hand” (pp. 36-37).  “Restricted, repetitive and stereotyped patterns of behavior, interests, and activities,” a hallmark of ASD (DSM-IV TR, American Psychiatric Association, 1994) is cleverly referred to by Page as “monomanias.”  He remarks, “Not only did I not see the forest for the trees; I was so intensely distracted that I missed the trees for the species of lichen on their bark” (p. 38).

The second hallmark of ASD is “a qualitative impairment in social interaction” (DSM-IV TR, American Psychiatric Association, 1994).  Page notes, “Caring for inanimate objects came easily.  Learning to make genuine connections with people—much as I desperately wanted them—was a bewildering process.  I felt like an alien, always about to be exposed…deeper emotions reduced me to aching silence” (p. 38, 41).  Most teens and adults with HFA/AS acknowledge a strong sense of confusion and despair when it comes to fitting in socially.  They are poor judges of character and are socially vulnerable.  Social vulnerability and naivete often results in exploitation.  Tim Page give us a “bird’s eye view” of the internal experience of individuals with ASD.  Reflecting on his life of 52 years, Page recounts “the melancholy sensation that my life has been spent in a perpetual state of parallel play, alongside, but distinctly apart from, the rest of humanity…my pervasive childhood memory is an excruciating awareness of my own strangeness” (p. 36).  That he would rather “improvise an epic poem at a sold-out Yankee Stadium” than attend a small social gathering (p. 41), highlights the depth of social discomfort most people with ASD experience.

The current generation of high-functioning people with ASD has benefited from early intervention in some cases and in others, intervention that begins after the average age of diagnosis—still between 7-9 years of age.  The types of interventions that have been found most useful for high functioning individuals with ASD have a relationship-based philosophy at their core.  This is central to the development of self-awareness, awareness of others, and the ability to participate in reciprocal relationships.  Most motivated individuals can “learn” what the rest of us simply pick up naturally, often referred to as the “hidden curriculum”—social etiquette, non-verbal cues, friendship skills, characterization of others’ strengths and weaknesses, empathy, pragmatic communication skills, etc.  Although individuals with ASD may not be hard-wired to understand emotions, empathy, and friendship, they can learn to do so.  This speaks to the common fallacy that individuals with ASD cannot empathize.  The fact that individuals with ASD may not express empathy and emotional understanding the same way that “neurotypical” individuals do, does not minimize their ability to experience deep, personal emotions and empathy.

Intimate relationships between a “neurotypical” person and a person with ASD are almost always fraught with challenges.  The partner without ASD often reports feelings of loneliness and deprivation of affection (Attwood, 2007).  Many reports of failed marital therapy are a result of clinicians who approach these couples as they would any other couple.  According to Attwood (2007), there are three prerequisites for a successful relationship:  both partners must acknowledge the diagnosis; both partners must be willing to learn and change; the couple should have access to a clinician who can modify the counseling to “accommodate the profile of abilities and experiences of the partner with Asperger’s Syndrome” (p. 315).

A final and important area of impairment in individuals with HFA/AS lies in the cognitive domain, particularly in the area of Executive Functioning (EF).  Much has been written, and research in this area continues to shed light on the types of challenges faced by students of all ages with ASD.  Deficits in EF have been the primary reason for many very bright students with ASD to either fail or drop out of college, with social deficits falling closely behind.  In order to succeed in college, most students with ASD require many of the same accommodations that students with other learning differences need.  However, there are additional supports specific to the student with ASD that will need to be in place for a successful outcome.  These include but are not limited to:  the broad areas of executive functioning, social concerns, and independent living skills.  Fortunately there are many universities and colleges that recognize the need for these additional supports and accommodations and specific programs that include staff training and individual mentoring for the student with ASD are being developed.  So far, their success rates are impressive!  This type of support may need to extend into the process of securing employment and the individual’s ability to function in the workplace.  Community and governmental supports can also be very useful towards this end.

Our society has already benefited from the ideas and inventions of individuals with ASD, past and present.  Appropriate programs and interventions will enable people with ASD to maximize their potential, live happy lives, and continue to contribute as university professors, scientists, librarians, researchers, tour guides, military personnel, telemarketers, lawyers, physicians, and more.

Dr. Sarita Freedman is a licensed psychologist in Calabasas, CA.  She specializes in working with individuals of all ages who are affected by autism spectrum disorders, and their family members.  She is the author of Developing College Skills in Students with Autism & Asperger’s Syndrome.  For more information you can go to her website, and check out her facebook fan page @


American Psychiatric Association (APA) (1994) Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th Edition (Text Revision).  Washington, DC:  American Psychiatric Association.

Attwood, T. (2007) The Complete Guide to Asperger’s Syndrome.  London:  Jessica Kingsley Publishers.

Center for Disease Control (2007) Autism Information Center, Prevalence of ASD’s.

Page, T. (2007) ‘Parallel Play.’ The New Yorker August 20, 2007.

Q and A with Professor Luis Melara

November 26, 2011

Logo of Shippensburg University

Dr. Luis Melara is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Mathematics at Shippensburg University. He has a Doctorate in Computational and Applied Mathematics from Rice University.  Dr. Melara recently participated in a Question and Answer session with We Connect Now regarding his own experience in applying to college and as a professor working with college students with disabilities on his campus.


Q and A with Professor Luis Melara

What services were made available to you as a high school student to help you to succeed in, or prepare for, college?

My high school did not offer any services to help me succeed in, or prepare for college. I took AP courses and other college-bound courses to help me prepare.  As a junior in high school, I visited the university campus I would eventually attend for college.  This trip was coordinated with one of the counselors at my high school and an outreach student group at the university.

Do you think that these services were sufficient to prepare you for college?

The visit to the university motivated me to apply there for college.  I found the college student tour guides to be very welcoming and I loved the campus.  I was very happy when I learned I had been accepted.

Would you have added any other or different services from those made available to you?

I would have really benefited from counseling because the college application process was not known to me or my parents.  I had plenty of questions about college which I found out mostly by reading brochures and conversations with my classmates, who seemed to know more than I did.

Did you receive any special trainings or seminars from your college to prepare you to teach students with disabilities?


What type of disabilities have you accommodated in your classroom while a professor?

Students with disabilities are registered with my institution’s Office of Disabilities.  I am legally not privy to the types of disabilities students have.  Faculty receive letters from Office of Disabilities informing us of students in our courses who are registered with their office and that they may approach us about taking exams at their office. I am not informed of the specific accommodations provided, however.   I send a test to the office and then, it is returned to me, after the student has finished.

Do you personally know any professors with disabilities in your field, Mathematics?

Yes, I do.

How well-integrated in the classroom are students with disabilities that you have taught?

Students seem very well integrated.  They attend classes like the rest of their classmates and the only difference is on exam days, when they take their tests in the Office of Disabilities. I’ve had students who are registered too but choose to take the tests with everyone else in class on exam days.

Are students with disabilities a group with a visible presence on your campus?

Unfortunately, I am unable to tell since the campus has many student groups and I am not familiar with all.

Finding The Right College With CMT

November 9, 2011

image of green tree as part of National CMT Resource Center logo

By Nicholas Zappola

Choosing the right college is tough enough—when do you really know it’s the “right” one?—but when you live with Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease, it’s an even bigger challenge. Some things to think about when choosing a college would be walking distances, handicap assistance (in case crutches or wheelchair needed), the surrounding geography and so on. This will help narrow the choices down to actually quite a few colleges out there.

Those of us who have CMT understand that long walks can sometimes be quite painful. Our gait and balance can be affected by the disease, and walking can cause some uncomfortable feelings and even pain. What can be done about this when looking for the right college? It’s easy–federal law requires most schools to provide students with disability assistance necessary for access to class. For example, one college I visited, High Point University in North Carolina, has a huge campus that would be difficult for me to get around while having CMT. One thing I found out though was students with disabilities have the right to help in accessing class, even if that means a golf cart!

Schools everywhere have some form of assistance for people that are in need of an elevator or a wheelchair ramp to get around from place to place. Although a lot have these things to help, there are certain schools where there could be issues with your crutches or wheelchair. Some schools I visited had sidewalks that were so uneven with cobble stones popping up left and right, making it easy for one to trip even without crutches. That’s a school that I would not recommend going to for your own safety. Colleges should be searched based on geography and surroundings, because if a college is on a hill or very uneven then it shouldn’t be considered as a top school.

Just remember that you may be legally entitled to receive assistance if you need something to help you get around. Choose your school wisely, not just by academics, but choose because of the feel it gives you. Consider your own needs when it comes to your CMT as you pick your college.


October 4, 2011

Maine Parent Federation: An Overview

By Robbin Pelletier

Maine Parent Federation is a private non-profit organization that provides information, referral, support and training to parents and professionals through numerous grant-funded projects. MPF’s roots go back to 1984, when a small but dynamic group of parents identified the need for an organization that would support and strengthen the voice of families of children with disabilities in Maine. It was this parent spark that marked the beginning of what would become Maine’s largest statewide parent organization.

MPF offers a variety of resources including a free lending library, quarterly Parent Connection newsletter, and a website: One of our newest resources is an online community: This interactive site offers families a way to connect to each other through a Parent Perspective message board, online trainings, state and national resources (including video resources), as well as publications on a wide variety of topics. Our Facebook page and twitter feed at MPF_Maine keep families up to date on the latest information and upcoming events. MPF’s Parent to Parent Program is another highly sought after resource which comes in the form of a one-to-one match with another parent whose child has experienced similar challenges. MPF also offers a variety of workshops which help participants increase their understanding of the family’s role in education.

MPF’s Project PRIME (Partners in Rehabilitation and Independence in Maine) promotes activities for parents of youth and young adults (age 14-26) who are in transition from school to the adult worlds of community living and vocational aspirations. The ultimate goal is to promote a sustained systemic emphasis on the services and partnerships necessary to assure that all Maine youth with disabilities reach their full potential.

Maine Parent Federation is open Monday – Friday from 8:30 AM to 4:30 PM. Families and individuals are encouraged to contact us for more information.

Maine Parent Federation, Inc.
P.O. Box 2067
Augusta, ME 04330-2067
1-800-870-7746 (In-State Only)
(207) 588-1933

The Impact of C-Print Captioning for College Students who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing

August 27, 2011

See Print is a blog created by a C-Print® captionist who does real-time captioning to assist students with hearing impairments and other special needs in law school and other settings. C-Print is a speech-to-text system which was developed at the National Technical Institute for the Deaf (NTID), a college of Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT), as a communication access service option for some deaf and hard-of-hearing students in educational environments. Captionists go into the classroom with a student and provide captioning of a professor’s lectures in real time so that students can view the lecture materials on a laptop. The See Print Moderator has prepared a guest blog for We Connect Now to give more information as to captioning works in practice and how it can help accommodate students with special needs in a hearing environment to achieve their full potential in college, graduate schools and other post-secondary educational settings.

By: See Print Moderator


What is C-Print?

C-Print® captioning is an accommodation available to help people participate and benefit more completely in a hearing environment. Advances in technology and accessibility are allowing C-Print® to improve access to necessary information for people who have a variety of needs in many different situations.

People who enjoy the opportunities provided by C-Print® may identify themselves as deaf, hard-of-hearing, or “hearing-impaired”. Some of them may have learning disabilities, visual difficulties, physical or mental challenges, or a variety of special needs in a hearing environment. Some hearing people may utilize C-Print® as an accommodation.

Video:   (In ASL ) What is C-Print?

For additional links regarding C-Print® see


What Students Say About C-Print Captioning:

“I will never forget how I felt the first day I walked into Disability services and looked at the girl behind the counter. I opened my mouth to try and explain my problem and began to cry. Being cutoff from part of the communication was extremely stressful, and I had reached my limit.”

“I explained how I was sponsored by Louisiana Rehabilitation Services and I was a person with a learning disability and hearing impairment. (Name withheld for privacy) introduced me to (Name withheld for privacy) who started me in the captioning program at LSU for the deaf and hard of hearing. With the transcripts, I flourished. Gradually I gained confidence and began to take notes from the transcripts during class.”

“Before captioning, I taped all my lectures and played them back at a high enough volume to hear and understand. It was impossible for me to keep up, and I ended up so stressed that I cried openly that day in the disability services office.”

“In a university setting, I’m held to the same high standards as all the other students yet, I do not receive the same amount of information without captioning. With captioning, I was able to keep up and compete on the same level as my fellow students. When put on the same level as my fellow students, I obtained my goal by graduating from a major state university with top honors!” 

~Source:  Quote shared with permission of student (Full name withheld for privacy)

For other links useful for students with hearing impairments see

About See Print:

I am a Level II certified C-Print captionist. I have captioned in various university settings and moderated a national discussion board for C-Print captionists since 2004. My major assignments include following students through law school, but I work in many subject areas and settings to provide real-time captioning, both in person and remotely. 

  • Industry: Education
  • Occupation: Level II C-Print Captionist since 2004
  • Location: United States
  • Blog:
  • Contact See Print:  cpseeprint at gmail dot com (Change to a functional address:  Replace the word “at” with an “@” symbol; add a period in place of the word “dot,”  and remove all spaces.)
  • See Print QR Code:   (Scan with QR reader ap on smart phone to browse to the site without having to type it in; then, bookmark the site for later.)


There is much more useful information about the use of C-Print® captioning in specific areas on the See Print website.

For more information on educational opportunities for veterans with hearing loss and the use of C-Print captioning see

For more information for teachers who work with captionists see

For more information for individuals who may be interested in learning captioning and other resources for captionists see and