National Transition Conversation

APH ConnectCenter National Transition Conversation
APH ConnectCenter National Transition Conversation

The 2021 National Transition Conversation: What It’s All About

The APH ConnectCenter’s 2021 National Transition Conversation is bringing together experts and practitioners in disability, and blindness, and visual impairment, and mentoring for an exciting and informative two-day exploration of the background, innovations, and program implications of peer mentoring as a transition support for youth and students with visual impairments.  Drawing on national disability communities’ experiences with inclusive peer mentor programs, the National Transition Conversation seeks to bring innovative strategies and effective practices to the field of Pre-Employment Transition Services (Pre-ETS) and blindness rehabilitation.

What is Mentoring?

Mentoring is a relationship in which two or more individuals with common characteristics and goals agree to connect for the purpose of mutual growth is a peer mentoring relationship.  Building a network of formal and informal mentoring relationships with peers is an effective and powerful strategy for success. Mentoring is both informal and formal.  Often we meet people who seem to have what we want, people who seem to have it pulled together in ways we want to emulate. When we get to know those people and invite them to share their knowledge we are asking them to be our mentors. Mentoring is a way to share and receive invaluable insight into personal and professional growth. 

Who is a Mentor?

You might be surprised at how easy it is to be a mentor.  You might be a mentor and not even know it.  At the most basic level, a mentor is a role model.  More formally, a mentor is someone who can provide insightful guidance, support, and encouragement as we transition from school to college, to career, and beyond.  Let’s be honest, mentors are cool people who provide first-hand knowledge on life skills, career matters, and navigating the multi-faceted world of work.

Why Peer Mentoring? 

Transitioning to adulthood, independence, and career path employment can be challenging for sure.  Family members, teachers, coaches, counselors are eager to support you as you navigate your transition from school to work, independence and success.   It can be a bit much.  Everyone telling you what they think you should do, asking you what you want to be…while you are trying to find your way.  

A mentor who is a peer can serve as a confidant and valued support and guide.  A source of encouragement with similar experiences and perspectives. A peer mentor is a like-aged friend who shares a common frame of reference and models self-advocacy and determination.  Peer mentors may just “get it” and be “more relatable”.  A peer mentor is typically a near age but older with additional insight, knowledge, experience.  

“Peer mentoring has a proven track record helping young people have high expectations for their future, develop self-advocacy skills, build personal networks, and access important community resources.  The establishment of a peer mentoring network is an effective and powerful way to deliver the required pre-employment transition services of instruction in self-advocacy, the development of independent living and social skills, job exploration, and counseling on opportunities for enrollment in postsecondary educational programs to students with disabilities.” – Workforce Innovation Technical Assistance Center (WINTAC )

How To Start a Peer Mentor Program

This is the focus of our 2021 National Transition Conversation.  Drawing on general disability mentoring research and initiatives, our panelists will share how they have created a wide array of effective peer-mentor programs to meet the diverse needs of students and transition-age youth with disabilities and visual impairments.

Outcomes for the National Transition Conversation

Through the National Transition Conversation the American Printing House for the Blind (APH) and The APH ConnectCenter want to bring everyone to the virtual table to discuss their creative methods and activities to provide effective mentoring experiences for youth and students with visual impairments and blindness.

Previous National Transition Conversations’ have allowed schools for the blind, community rehabilitation providers, transition specialists, and government agencies to share information about their unique programs, activities, and resources.

Hosted by the APH ConnectCenter team and APH CareerConnect Manager, Richard Rueda, this year’s National Transition Conversation will bring together members of the larger vocational rehabilitation and disability spheres as well as our own community to share their insights into creating dynamic peer-mentor programs that enhance employment experiences and WIOA goals for students transition-age youth.

  • Vocational Rehabilitation and Transition Agencies will learn strategies and models to create effective paid peer mentor programs as employment and transition models.
  • Teachers of students with visual impairments and School Administrators will discover the value of peer-mentoring as a transition support for students serving as both mentors and mentees.
  • Parents, Students, and Transition-Age Youth will discover the power of working with peer mentors to build the critical skills and confidence needed for successful transition to college and work.

Reasons to Attend

The APH ConnectCenter and Policyworks have planned a stellar lineup of thought leaders, vocational rehabilitation professionals, and transition agencies who have developed effective peer mentoring programs for students and youth with disabilities as well as transition-age youth and job seekers with visual impairments and blindness.  Join our panelists and their discussions as they provide their personal experiences, journeys, and expertise illustrating the power of mentorship and the capacity to create effective mentoring programs at the local level.

Be sure to check out our two half-day schedules, which have been created to accommodate as many nationwide attendees as possible. So, make your plans and register today!

Join Us

The National Transition Conversation: Mentoring Initiatives, Programs, and Policies will be a virtual conference hosted by the APH ConnectCenter via Zoom.

Dates: October 5 – 6, 2021

Location: All sessions will be held in Zoom

Agenda

Tuesday, October 5th

10:00 am – 11:00 am (ET): Welcome to the National Transition Conversation

11:15 am – 12:30 pm (ET): Peer Mentoring:  Policy, Technical Assistance, and Program and Service Supports (WIOA, PreETS, and Inclusive Peer Mentoring Supports)

12:45 pm – 2:00 pm (ET): VR Peer Mentoring: Program design and the benefits of peer mentoring to Rehab Service Providers, Mentors, and Mentees (youth and students with disabilities) 

Wednesday, October 6th 

10:00 am – 10:45 am (ET): APH CareerConnect Intro & Day 1 Recap.
A special message from Joe Strechay

11:00 am – 12:30 pm (ET): How Does It Work: Agencies & Mentor/Mentee Panel


Questions?

Contact connectcenter@aph.org with any questions or comments.