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Education | Employment | Health | Legal & Advocacy | Transportation | Recreation | Social Development | Independent Living | Government | Technology


What are DCPS' requirements for a high school diploma?

Requirements for earning a high school diploma in DC are laid out as follows on the DCPS website:

To receive a DCPS diploma, students who enroll in 9th grade for the first time in school year 2007–2008 and thereafter must earn 24.0 credits (or Carnegie Units) as follows:

Subject Credits
Art 0.5
Electives 3.5
English 4
Health and Physical Education 1.5
Mathematics (including Algebra I, Geometry, Algebra II) 4
Music 0.5
Science (including three laboratory sciences) 4
Social Studies (including World History I and II, D.C. History, U.S. Government, U.S. History) 4
World Languages 2
Total 24

Students must also meet the following requirements:

  • At least 2 credits of the 24 required credits must be earned through courses that appear on the approved "College Level or Career Prep" list
  • 100 hours of community service
  • individual graduation portfolio
  • culminating composition or project

What is the difference between a certificate and diploma?

The two most important differences between a certificate and diploma are (1) that to go on to post-secondary education, a student must earn a diploma, and (2) perspective employers also prefer to see that a diploma has been earned rather than a certificate. A student completing a certificate track has acquired basic skills in high school that they may or may not be able to get by with. A diploma, on the other hand, shows a student to be more well-rounded.

What is an IEP?

An IEP (individualized education program) is an education track laid out with specific goals for a student with disabilities. At least once a year, the student's teachers, parents, guidance counselor, and the student meet to address the student's progress and make changes to the IEP if need be. Everyone present at the meeting is encouraged to contribute to the discussion. Every public school student in the United States with a disability that entitles him/her to special education is required to have an IEP.

How do I apply for financial aid?

To become eligible for federal and state financial aid, a student must fill out a FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid). FAFSAs can be filled out online at www.fafsa.ed.gov. Once in the Department of Education's system, FAFSAs are examined, and aid is given to students based on their content.

What are the different types of financial aid available to me or my child?

The most common types of financial aid available to those looking to pursue post-secondary education are loans, which must be repaid, and scholarships/grants, which typically do not have to be paid back. (In some cases, scholarships have stipulations that must be fulfilled in order to avoid having to pay them back.) Both types of aid are available through the local and federal government, but private organizations give aid as well. A simple Google search will yield hundreds of privately given aid for which one may apply. Other good places to check are the high school's college/career center or the colleges of interest.

How can I tell whether or not an organization offering financial aid is legitimate?

There is a simple way to separate scammers from those offering legitimate aid. Anybody asking for money up front is a scammer and should be avoided. Many people fall for Internet scams such as these on a regular basis.

How do students with disabilities acquire services and supports in college?

Services for students with disabilities in college are obtained through the college's disability support services office. After enrolling into a school, students with disabilities undergo an intake process during which their necessary accommodations are laid out. Students must then take the initiative to notify their instructors/professors of their disabilities/accommodations. This process differs from that in high school in that there are no IEPs in college. Students are expected to know what services they need and advocate for themselves.

What are the requirements for attaining a GED? Where can I complete a GED program?

To earn a GED, one must pass the GED examination. One can register either in person or online at the DC GED Testing Center (www.dcged.org). Organizations that offer GED preparation classes are also listed on the testing center site.


Are there organizations that will help me find employment?

One objective of the RSA (Rehabilitation Services Administration) is to help people with disabilities find employment. Job searches are done on a case-by-case basis for those who are registered for services from RSA. It also provides necessary accommodations to help people with disabilities to their jobs to the best of their ability. RSA can be reached online at http://dds.dc.gov/dds/cwp/view,A,3,Q,496870,ddsNav_GID,1492,ddsNav,|31535|,.asp.

Do I have to mention my disability when applying for a job?

You are free to disclose any information you feel comfortable disclosing during a job application/interview process. If you do not feel comfortable talking about your disability, you do not have to do so.

Do any DC-based organizations offer employment opportunities to the developmentally disabled?

Yes. There are many opportunities for supported employment for people with developmental/ intellectual disabilities in DC. Access to supported employment providers is given through the Developmental Disabilities Administration.

What is the difference between employment, supported employment, and day programs?

Employment is having a basic job in which a person has certain tasks to accomplish as well as certain responsibilities. Supported employment is employment in which people with developmental disabilities are given a certain task to perform. In a day program, people with developmental disabilities perform tasks that may be recreational or therapeutic and are not paid, as opposed to employment and supported employment, where people are paid.


What is health care transition?

Transition is a planned process to help teens become more independent and move from pediatric health care (or seeing a children's doctor) to adult health care. This takes time, so starting at age 12 or 14 is helpful. Most young people switch to an adult doctor when they are 18 to 21 years old.) Age 14 (or before) is a great time to start talking with a teen's health care provider about their readiness for transition to prepare them for adult care.Transition planning and successful transfers of care are rooted in partnership and collaboration between families, teens, and their health care providers.

Why is transitioning to adult health care important for teens?

  • Becoming more independent about your health care and involved in decision-making
  • A sense of responsibility and control over your own life
  • Finding and treating your health problems
  • Successful health transitions positively impact other areas of life

  • What does transition involve for teens?

  • Learning more about your diagnosis, symptoms, and treatment
  • Learning how to deal with health risks and the challenges of your condition
  • Managing your medications and carrying a list of your medications with you
  • Carrying a portable medical file and your health insurance card
  • Making and keeping your doctors' appointments
  • Knowing when and where to get help for an emergency
  • Asking your doctor questions about ways to improve your health
  • Working with your doctor to find an adult doctor who can care for you
  • Please view the resources designed for teens on this website to take care of your own transition process.

    What is a parent’s or caregiver’s role in their child's transition process?

    Part of the transition process is a child taking increased responsibility for his or her own care, but a child still needs support from parents or caregivers as they enter this process. Parents and caregivers can talk with a child's doctor about the ways they can help their child and doctors smoothly transition. Please view the resources designed for parents and caregivers on this website for supporting teens.

    What can health care providers do to support patients' successful transition?

    Tools and resources for health care providers are available to assist their patients and their patients’ families through this process. Things like transition plans, readiness checklists, and developing and using a transition policy may help health care providers and their patients ease their health care transition.

    What insurance programs might be available for me?

    Individuals who are qualified for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) are eligible for Medicaid in the District of Columbia. Learn more about Medicaid services and qualifying for its services.

    Can young adults stay on their parents' or caregivers' insurance past 18?

    If an adolescent has private insurance through a parent's or caregiver's employer, he or she can stay on that insurance plan well past age 18. Learn more about new laws to help young adults stay insured as they get older.

    How do I go about acquiring medical insurance and a doctor?

    If you don't have a private health insurance provider, the first thing you should do in DC is contact the Income Maintenance Administration (IMA), which will determine what type of insurance, if any, you are eligible for. From there, you will be able to choose a physician from a list given to you by your insurance provider.

    What is the difference between Medicare and Medicaid?

    Medicare is a federal insurance program for the elderly (ages 65 and older) and the disabled. Medicaid is a state-funded health insurance program for those who have low incomes. The Income Maintenance Administration determines which you would qualify for, if any, based on your financial status, age, and disability.

    How are DC teens with special health care needs and their families faring when it comes to transition from pediatric to adult health care?

  • Only 34% of DC adolescents with special health care needs are receiving the support they need to transition to adult health care, work and independence, according to the National Survey of Children with Special Health Care Needs.
  • Adolescents least likely to receive needed transition support are Black, in families with incomes below 200 percent of the federal poverty level, publicly insured, and without a medical home.
  • For more information, see our DC Health Care Transition Fact Sheet.

    What are teens' and parents' perspectives on health care transition?

  • Health care transition is a new topic for the teens and parents interviewed in our recent focus group study. Although most appeared to be informed about education transition, few teens and parents reported that they talked to the teen's doctor or nurse about transitioning to an adult doctor.
  • Both teens and parents indicated an interest in receiving more information from their child's doctor about adult doctors and health insurance. They preferred face-to-face discussions, but also internet-based information, text messages, and interactive approaches for teens and group meetings or transition kits for parents.

  • Legal & Advocacy

    Are there attorneys who specifically handle disability law?

    Yes. University Legal Services (ULS) is a private, nonprofit organization that provides legal advocacy for the human, legal and service rights of people with disabilities in DC. All services are offered free of charge to eligible individuals in accordance with ULS' available resources and policies. Services provided include the following:

    • Information and referral to community resources
    • Education and training about legal rights
    • Investigation of reported or suspected instances of abuse or neglect
    • Legal counsel; technical assistance, and litigation services
    • Technical assistance regarding legislative and policy concerns

    Are there groups that will help me learn to advocate for myself, if necessary?

    Yes. Quite a few self-advocacy groups exist to aid people with disabilities in DC. A few of them are The ARC of DC, DC Quality Trust, AJE (Advocates for Justice and Education), and YEARC (Youth Empowerment and Advocacy Resource Center.

    What is the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA)?

    It's a federal civil rights law that states public or private institutions cannot discriminate on the basis of disability. It helps to implement and enforce Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and also outlines additional protections for people with disabilities.


    What is Metro Access?

    Metro Access is a curb-to-curb paratransit service available to people in the DC area who have disabilities. You can download a Metro Access application from the website at www.wmata.com/accessibility/metroaccess_service/. If accepted, you will receive a Metro Access card, which will also enable you to use public transportation such as Metro rail and buses free of charge.

    Does Metro offer travel training? If so, whom do I contact to receive it?

    Yes. Metro recently started a two-year pilot program that offers travel training to people who have significant disabilities. For more information, contact the DC Center for Independent Living, 1400 Florida Ave., NE, Washington, DC 20002, 202-388-0033.

    I've heard of a wheelchair cab service. Does this exist? If so, how do I contact them? What else should I be aware of when using taxicabs?

    Royal and Yellow cabs have teamed to conduct a federally funded two-year pilot wheelchair cab program. There are 20 cabs currently in use throughout the city. Fares are equal to those of regular cabs, but those who order wheelchair cabs are asked to wait a little longer on average for them. More information about the program can be found at http://newsroom.dc.gov/show.aspx/agency/$agency/release/19004. In all other instances involving cabs, make sure you have a rough idea as to how much you should be paying to get to your destination, or ask the driver/dispatcher how much he or she thinks it may cost. Most cab drivers are trustworthy, but it pays to be careful.


    What types of community recreation programs are available specifically for people with disabilities?

    A great many organizations/programs offer recreational activities for people with disabilities. They range from the arts (Art Enables, WVSA Arts Connection) to Theater (Imagination Stage) to physical activities (DC Center for Therapeutic recreation), just to name a few.

    Social Development

    What types of community recreation programs are available specifically for people with disabilities?

    A great many organizations/programs offer recreational activities for people with disabilities. They range from the arts (Art Enables, WVSA Arts Connection) to Theater (Imagination Stage) to physical activities (DC Center for Therapeutic recreation), just to name a few.

    Independent Living

    What is the difference between assisted and independent living?

    Assisted living facilities offer those with disabilities living quarters of their own but have staff on site to aid with tasks that tenants may have trouble with. These can include but are not limited to cooking, cleaning living quarters, and washing laundry. Independent living means living completely on one's own in an apartment, condo, house, etc.

    Are there people or organizations that can help me find a disability-friendly place to live? Are there places that teach basic independent living skills?

    The DC Center for Independent Living does both of these. DCCIL is a community-based, private, nonprofit organization that promotes independent lifestyles for persons with significant disabilities in DC. It has four core independent living services:

    • Independent living skills training
    • Peer counseling
    • Advocacy and legal services
    • Information and referral to community services


    What government benefits are available to people with disabilities?

    The two types of government benefits available to people with disabilities from the Social Security Administration are SSI (supplemental Security Income) and SSDI (Social Security Disability Insurance).

    Supplemental Security Income provides monthly payments to persons with disabilities that meet Social Security requirements. Some SSI facts to remember:

    • SSI payments are made to persons who are blind or have disabilities and have limited income and resources.
    • Persons who receive payments must meet living arrangement requirements.
    • Individuals who receive payments are able to get payments according to Social Security rules and policies.
    • Social Security will review your disability from time to time to make sure you meet requirements of the SSI program.
    • Paid for with U.S. Treasury money.

    Social Security Disability Insurance also provides monthly payments to eligible persons with disabilities. Some SSDI facts to remember:

    • SSDI is financed with taxes paid by workers, employers, and self-employed persons.
    • Workers earn a certain number of credits based on taxable work to be able to get SSDI payments according to Social Security.
    • The amount of monthly disability benefits is based on the worker's Social Security earnings record.

    The SSDI program pays benefits to adults who have a disability that began before they became 22 years old. Social Security considers this SSDI benefit as a "child's" benefit because it is paid on a parent's Social Security earnings record. For a disabled adult to become entitled to this "child" benefit, one of his or her parents (1) must be receiving Social Security retirement or disability benefits or (2) must have died and have worked long enough under Social Security. These benefits are also payable to an adult who received dependents benefits on a parent's Social Security earnings record prior to age 18, if he or she is disabled at age 18. Social Security makes the disability decision using the disability rules for adults. SSDI disabled adult "child" benefits continue as long as the individual remains disabled. The child does not need to have worked to get these benefits.

    How Social Security decides if one can receive SSDI benefits?

    If you are age 18 or older, Social Security will evaluate your disability the same way they would evaluate the disability for any adult. Social Security sends the application to the Disability Determination Services in DC to complete the application.

    Can I work while receiving SSI?

    Yes. However, if you do so, there are a few items listed on the SSA website that you must be aware of:

    • SSI payments are made to people age 65 who are blind or disabled and have little income or resources. If you are disabled and work despite your disability, you may continue to receive payments until your earnings, added with any other income, exceed the SSI income limits. This limit is different in every state. Even if your SSI payments stop, your Medicaid coverage usually will continue if your earnings are less than your state level.
    • Expedited reinstatement—If SSA stopped your payments because of your earnings and you become unable to work again because of your medical condition, you may ask them to start your payments again. You will not have to file a new disability application if you make this request within five years after the month your benefits stopped.

    What is the SSI appeal process?

    If Social Security makes a decision about your SSI payments that you do not agree with, you can appeal or ask Social Security to look at their decision again. When you ask for an appeal, Social Security will look at the entire decision, even those parts that were in your favor. If their decision was wrong, Social Security will change it.


    Are there places or organizations in DC that can offer me assistive technology or teach me how to use assistive technology?

    Yes; here are a few of them.

    • Enabled Access (www.enabledaccess.com) offers assistive technology training.
    • Assistive Technology Program (www.atpdc.org) provides assistive technology devices and services such as aid in purchasing devices.
    • DC Shares (www.dc-shares.org) provides assistive technology and durable medical equipment free of charge to people with disabilities that have no other means of obtaining such devices.

    Are there libraries in the city at which assistive technology may be available to me?

    Yes. The whole DC public library system should be equipped with assistive technology, but the MLK Public Library is your best bet: 901 G St. NW (the Assistive Technology Lab is in Room 215) and www.dclibrary.org/services/adaptiveservices.

    How do I use technology to connect with friends and family?

    There are many ways to get and stay in touch with friends and family with the aid of technology. One of the most popular now is social network sites, including Facebook and Myspace. Certain safety precautions should be kept in mind when using websites such as these, however. Other forms of technology that may be used to stay connected to loved ones include e-mail, instant messaging, and cell phones. All of these methods are modifiable with the aid of assistive technology.

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