From life skills and “earn & learn” work experiences to college and employment prep, our youth programs are tailored to the needs of the youngest members of our community.
Employment Development Guidance and Engagement (EDGE)
Transitional Age Education and Employment Opportunity
Transitional Age Education and Employment Opportunity is designed to provide enhanced educational training and address the identifying deficits for individuals with blindness and visual impairments who have graduated or are no longer in high school, transitioning into the workforce. An extensive comprehensive career inventory will be assessed with each client to provide career training potentials and areas of strengths and weaknesses based on the inventory’s results. Supported assistance will be provided to these individuals based on their educational or prevocational needs, whether in college or training towards gainful employment. The program is structured as such to meet the client at their level of training and progress towards completion of an employment goal that is applicable to them. The opportunity will be provided for the client to gain independence in their living environment and community, and enhanced educational and employment skills essential for the workplace that is required for successful employment.
Comprehensive Career Inventory
Essential Workplace Skills
Work Experience Opportunities (Includes transportation and learning to access transportation independently.)
Enhanced Educational Training
Assistive Technology Training
Transitional-Age Youth Summer Programs
The Student Transition Youth Learning Experience Program (STYLE) was designed for the Pre-ETS population using a holistic approach to equip visually impaired youth, with the tools necessary to succeed both personally and professionally. Transition is helping these students with visual impairments think about their life after high school and identify long-term goals beginning their high school year. These experiences will ensure that students gain the skills and connections they need to achieve these goals and the provision of services to local school districts to assist in the transition process. Our goal is to support students and youth with disabilities (blindness) to transition from school to college and/or competitive integrated employment while collaboratively working in this transitional process with our partners, Division of Services for the Blind, Arkansas School for the Blind, the Arkansas public school districts and expansion of services to other states. This program will include many facets of planning for the children’s future throughout the summer and school year. This planning process is inclusive to everyone involved, including the student’s family, each step of the way. Planning for a student’s future is an investment in the child's well-being, as well as, our community.
During the summer, students come to WSB for an immersive higher-ed experience during our STYLE and College Prep programs. After a two-week skills evaluation, students will work on academic skills development, assistive technology and computer literacy, soft skills, daily living skills, and orientation and mobility training. The students will also engage in extracurricular activities with their peers that entail some form of learning from social skills to independent living skills.
The STYLE Program helps students improve academically, provide Accuplacer or ACT prep, college readiness, career awareness, participate in mock interviews, learn soft skills, independent living and essential work place skills. Participants will be able to work and earn financially with different employers in their area of interest during the program. Students participating in the summer program will also receive personal laptops at completion of the program.
Eligibility: Ages 14 to graduation or completion of high school
Focus: The five Pre-Employment Transition Services (Pre-ETS) focus areas include:
Job Exploration Counseling to support a discovery process using customized tools that help students discover their skills, abilities and interests
Post-secondary Exploration to provide counseling on opportunities for enrollment in local community college / post-secondary education programs
Instruction in Self-Advocacy to assist students in gaining the knowledge and skills to effectively communicate, convey, negotiate, or assert their own interests and/or desires
Work-Place Readiness Training to develop social skills and independent living
Work-based Learning Experiences to provide work opportunities and experiences outside of the traditional school setting
Student Transition Employment Plus (STEP)
According to the National Research and Training Center on Blindness and Low Vision, three key elements must be present in order to move a transitional-age youth toward success in employment: Early work experience, academic achievement and social/internal skills. The Student Transition Employment Plus (STEP) program will provide the opportunity to “learn and earn” while developing autonomy, exploring vocational interests while working in a competitive, integrated work environment. Students will also have opportunities to work with mentors who are blind in order to gain real life experience and the challenges faced by professionals with visual impairments. Additionally, students will learn problem solving skills, time management, financial literacy and budgeting.
College Prep Summer Program
Students will enroll in a three-credit course at UA Little Rock, located across from the WSB campus and will also participate and collaborate with the STYLE summer program. During the summer, students come to WSB for an immersive higher-ed experience. After a two-week skills evaluation, students will work on academic skills development, assistive technology and computer literacy, soft skills, daily living skills, and orientation and mobility training. The students will also engage in extracurricular activities with their peers that entail some form of learning from social skills to independent living skills.
The College Prep Summer Program was designed for the Pre-ETS population using an approach that will equip visually impaired youth, with the tools necessary to succeed both personally, and professionally while giving them the experience of matriculating in a college course. Transition is helping these students with visual impairments think about their life after high school and identify long-term goals beginning their high school year and thereafter. These experiences will ensure that students gain the skills and connections they need to achieve these goals. With our goal in mind to support students and youth with disabilities (blindness) to transition from school to college and/or competitive integrated employment we will see a greater outcome of success for these youth. The Program helps students improve academically, make them college ready, career awareness, participate in mock interviews while learning soft skills, independent living skills and essential work place skills. Students participating in the summer program will also receive personal laptops to keep at completion of the program.
ACT Academic Career Technology
The Academic Career Technology (ACT) program is intended for transitional-aged youth, young adults or non-traditional students transitioning into an academic program or with little to no work experience. The program is designed to assist those who entering the workforce and need some level of academic training or intending to enter college and may require some academic improvement. It is intended to build an essential foundation of skills needed to be successful in college or other academic training environments. The student may need to focus on academic improvement before entering a vocational program. Some students may need additional educational support in basic English, math or writing that they may not be offered in other academic environments tailored to the individuals needs for their visual impairment or disability. The ACT program will offer modern adaptive technology assistance and/or training for the student for their proficient use during their educational program and test-taking needs.
In addition, to the traditional qualifications and technical skills usually considered by employers with concentration on communication, teamwork and problem-solving skills. In addition to employability skills, there are also several personal attributes that appear consistent across the board which include: Enthusiasm, commitment, common sense and positive self-esteem. These skills will be taught through the Essential Workplace Skills Series (EWPS), which addresses the soft skills that employers are seeking in their employees while taking the consumer through the process of finding and securing the job that they desire and are qualified for. Our goal at WSB is to provide our consumers with a customized employment program that will allow each of them to achieve their goals.
The program also offers ACT Test Prep, which is a test that is a nationally recognized as a college admissions test which is accepted by all four-year colleges and universities in the United States. Taught by experts in the field of blindness and low vision, the ACT Test Prep course provides live instruction, homework review and customized recommendations based on practice test performance—all aimed at helping students who are blind or visually impaired to score higher. Pre-reading materials are sent so that prep starts the minute you’re signed up, and post-evaluation support continues for two weeks following the on-campus course. If the student has not taken the ACT or can not reach the required score to enter college, they have the option to prep for the ACCUPLACER exam which accepted in lieu of the ACT exam along with taking remedial courses on our campus instead of in college.