One of the ways that students with vision impairments can build self-determination skills is through participation in their IEP. Participating in an IEP encourages students to learn about self-advocacy; to better understand their own strengths, challenges, and accommodations; and to set and articulate their goals. When students take charge of one or more components of their IEP meeting, they are in effect taking ownership of their own education.
Active Participation in IEP Meetings
There are a number of ways that students can begin to participate more actively in their IEP meetings. For students who have taken a very passive role in the process until now, leading a meeting on her own will be challenging without practice. Students can be introduced to this leadership role by first taking an active role in smaller components. By taking this approach, they will build their sense of confidence and competence, and set themselves up for success.
Working on Setting Short-Term Goals
One way that students can become more active participants in their IEP meetings is to work on setting goals. As instructors and family members, we are often inclined to ask students about their long-term goals. Students with and without disabilities who are on the cusp of transition out of high school constantly hear various versions of the “What do you want to be when you grow up?” question. However, we often do little to encourage students to think about their short-term goals. When students can work with members of their education team to set and comprehend their IEP goals, the special education process becomes something they are taking part in, rather than something that is happening to them. It also helps students to become more aware of the steps needed for them to accomplish the things they are aiming for long-term. This activity encourages students to take part in IEP goal development.