Elizabeth Getzel, M.A.
Challenging Tradition through Life Long Learning & Economic Empowerment
Michael Morris, Nat'l Disability Institute at the Nat'l Cooperative Bank Development Corp
Elizabeth Getzel, M.A., M.A., VCU-RRTC
It has long been believed that life long learning belongs to a few academically gifted individuals. In a 21st century information economy, learning never ends. A two or four year college education is for most people the portal to life long learning, where students enrich themselves and grow networks of people with similar fields of interests and desires.
Surveys of parents and students with disabilities reflect a divergent view of life long learning and access to post secondary education. Findings from the National Longitudinal Transition Study (NLTS2)* of students with disabilities find that more than half of youth with disabilities expect that they will continue their education. Unfortunately fewer than a third of parents expect them to do so.
The importance of post secondary education cannot be denied - the higher the educational attainment is for an individual; the higher the annual income is. (USDOL) Emerging models of access to higher education by students with disabilities are challenging traditional thinking. Hand in hand with life long learning is the concern about economic security. About two thirds of students polled by the NLTS2 study believe that they will definitely be financially independent, yet fewer than a third of parents believe this will be true. Traditionally people with disabilities have been socialized to be dependent upon social security benefits. Unfortunately living in poverty is a requirement of being eligible for certain public benefits. Some of the tools and strategies that youth with disabilities and families can leverage to make economic security a reality will be discussed.