16:35 PM

Ohio State supports new initiative to aid students with disabilities

The Ohio State University joined public colleges and universities in Ohio to support students with disabilities as they complete their education and prepare to enter the job market.

Opportunities for Ohioans with Disabilities and the Ohio Department of Higher Education announced the launch of Ohio College2Careers Thursday at the Statehouse. Ohio College2Careers places a full-time, dedicated vocational rehabilitation counselor in the disability services offices at 15 public colleges and universities.

“Ohio College2Careers connects students with resources that enrich their academic experience and builds bridges to lasting professional success,” said President Michael V. Drake. “We are proud to partner with Opportunities for Ohioans with Disabilities to support this important program and expand pathways to an accessible and excellent college education for all.”

A full-time dedicated OOD vocational rehabilitation counselor can provide career counseling and purchase additional services and supports that help students with disabilities to stay in school, successfully complete their degree and obtain employment after graduation.

“This initiative not only allows us to offer additional supports to students with disabilities but also connects participants to an expansive network of employer partners,” said Kevin Miller, director of OOD. “Working within public colleges and universities means individuals with disabilities have a greater opportunity of success as they transition from academic life to a career.”

Kari Grafton, senior vocational rehabilitation counselor with Ohio College2Careers, is already on campus with Student Life Disability Services in Baker Hall. She said her role with the new initiative is to help students translate the support they receive in college into the same level of support with an employer. The support extends to the university's regional campuses as well.

“I feel there has been a gap between students getting their accommodations while in college and then being able to transfer those same accommodations, or advocate for themselves for what they need, when they get into a career,” she said. “So getting to be the bridge between disability services and career services is vastly essential to helping those students who have a diagnosis.”

Megan Amling, a senior majoring in world literatures, said the support offered to students at Ohio State attracted her to the Columbus campus.

“When I enrolled at Ohio State, it was actually one of the big draws for me, their disability services and the accommodations they could provide for me. In order for me to enroll in classes and be successful, I needed some accommodations,” she said.

Amling suffers from post-concussive syndrome and other ailments – what she calls invisible disabilities. She has already tapped into the service to help her prepare for job interviews. She and Grafton discussed potential issues like how to disclose a disability and how to ask an employer for accommodations.

“I was able to get immediate feedback from Kari,” she said. “She was able to set me up with services with vocational rehabilitation and that person will help me with counseling going forward. It was all very fast.”

Any student with a disability can visit www.OODWorks.com for information about OOD’s services.

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