This year, my high school started College & Career Week. This is a week dedicated to helping students learn about where they might want to go to college and what career options they should consider. There were colleges, universities and jobs that we could take a gander at. We moved from room to room, doing activities related to our future plans. I thought this was really useful and I learned a lot. For me, however, there was something important that was missing.
The Benefits of the Career Fair
First, let me tell you about the positive parts of the career fair. We took multiple tests to see what kind of personality we have and what we excel in. Then we took a test to see what types of jobs would best suit us based on what interests us. Most of the careers the system chose for me had to do with math and science, including forensic scientist or anthropologist. I was surprised how well these jobs matched my interests and strengths. Ever since I learned about forensic science through an electives class, I’ve been extremely curious about this career. And I had a huge obsession with dinosaurs and fossils when I was little. So, maybe I should think about these things again?
Where the Career Fair Fell Short
Now, for the not-so-good parts of the career fair. One of the presenters talked about all the great programs at their campus but didn’t say one thing about programs or accommodations for students with dyslexia. This might not seem like a big oversight, but it was very strange since they were presenting at a high school for kids with learning disabilities. Their written materials included descriptions of special programs for these students.
The Lack of Information on College Accessibility
Then, I went up to one school’s table, because I had heard that their campus was very accessible. I wanted to learn more about campus accessibility. When I asked the person at the desk: “how wheelchair friendly is the campus?” the person looked at me and said: “I’m sorry, I don’t know.”
The career fair made me realize that I need to start having conversations about what accessibility is like for the colleges and careers I may want to pursue. I’ve never really thought about it before or even considered that my disabilities could affect what I want to do or become when I am an adult. I mean as a wheelchair user, I have thought about being discriminated against when applying for a job, but I haven’t thought much about accommodations I will need for certain jobs and whether the accommodations will be available.
I wish that there was a way that I could learn which colleges and careers match best when you consider my dyslexia and mobility disability, and not just my strengths and interests.
About Maddie Kasten: Maddie is a Q Roll Model for Quantum Rehab. She lives in Phoenix, Arizona, and enjoys participating in adaptive sports, playing video games and watching anime. Click here to learn more about Maddie.
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