LEMOORE — The transition from high school to college is never easy especially for students with disabilities. That is why officials from West Hills College Lemoore piloted a new program this summer in an effort to ease the transition for these students.

The free, two-week program called Access Learn Progress Succeed academy, also known as A.L.P.S, academy, teaches disabled students skills like time management, note taking, how to understand their disabilities and how to use assistive technology like speech and reading software that best fits their needs.

“The whole goal is to ensure that there is a smoother transition so that when students actually get into the campus, they know how to access different resources,” said Lataria Hall, associate dean of Categorical Programs.

The program started on July 25 and is held from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Mondays-Thursdays until Aug. 4.

“This is huge for students with disabilities especially students coming from high school,” Hall said. “In high school everything is done for the students.”

Hall said once students get to college it is their responsibility to seek the services that they need but many of them do not know where to start.

Hall said students in the program will be better prepared on accessing needed resources and how to contact their instructors if they have questions or concerns.

Hall said students are also learning about the different clubs offered on campus so they can be involved not only academically but socially.

“We are teaching them social skills because a lot of times students with disabilities have this stigma and they have been labeled so there is a fear there,” Hall said. “People perceive them as being different.”

Hall said she sees common learning disabilities in reading, auditory processing and visual learning disabilities.

“Our whole goal at West Hills College is — no matter who you are, what type of disability you have and what your background is — to create equity and make things equitable and give the opportunity to be successful,” Hall said.

Disabled Students Program and Services counselor Maria Gonzalez said the schools High Technology Access Center has services and assistive technology geared for students with disabilities. She also contributed to the program's curriculum.

The center has a type of software called Kurzweil that reads textbooks out loud and shows words on a monitor for students to follow.

“It’s really a popular software,” she said. “That’s one of the most requested services we offer to students [at the center].”

Gonzalez said the center has another type of software called Dragon Dictation which allows students to speak and see the text content on the screen. The software is great for students with upper body mobility impairments who cannot physically write a research paper, she said.

Students in the program were taught how to use the center's technology, Gonzalez said.

“I am hoping students are going to be more comfortable for college and they are going to have more success,” she said.

Hanford West High School graduate Justin Dias was one of five students who were enrolled in the program this summer.

He said the program is better preparing him for his first semester of college next month.

“It basically gives you all sorts of great training,” he said. “I am excited.”

Students who attended were able to receive a free SMART Pen which can record lectures while taking notes.

If the program is brought back again next summer, Gonzalez said they hope to reach out to local high schools earlier to get more students to attend.

“Our long-term goal is to actually make it a class so students can earn credit for attending,” she said.

This reporter can be reached at csandoval@hanfordsentinel.com or 583-2422. 

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