What is IDEAL?

Goal: To implement an inclusive postsecondary program for students with mild intellectual disabilities at Georgia State University begin in Fall 2016.

The Inclusive Digital Expression and Literacy (IDEAL) Program offers a 2-year course of study where the students’

  • Enroll in or audit courses offered by GSU colleges and academic departments;
  • Complete work-study and internship experiences related to media, communications, and/or the arts; and
  • Participate in a variety of extracurricular activities on campus.

Need: Each year there are approximately 2000 high school graduates with intellectual disabilities in Georgia who might qualify for a participation in postsecondary education, but there currently are only 30-35 annual openings in the state’s inclusive postsecondary programs (at Georgia Tech, Kennesaw State, Columbus State and East Georgia State).

Program Focus: IDEAL will leverage GSU’s resources in media and the arts as well as our location in a global hub for journalism, music, art and design. The program will be novel in its focus on digital/media literacy, technology use, and communication skills.

Curriculum: Students audit two courses per semester for five consecutive semesters (including two summer sessions).

  • Audit courses from a core curriculum (six courses) that focuses on technology use, digital/media literacy, communication skills, success in the college environment, self-determination, and career development.
  • Audit an additional four elective courses to build knowledge and skills in their selected areas of interest (e.g. film/TV, music, art and design).
    Both core and elective courses will be part of the general undergraduate curriculum and students with mild intellectual disabilities will participate in the classes alongside their peers with and without disabilities.

Participate in a weekly (non-credit) IDEAL program seminar which will focus on a variety of topics

  • identifying learning strategies and supports,
  • career development and job-related “soft skills,”
  • awareness of and involvement with existing campus activities, organizations, and resources, and
  • development and promotion of the self-determination and self-advocacy skills.

Work Experiences: During the first 12 months (i.e. spring, summer, and fall semester) of the program, IDEAL students will participate in an on-campus, part-time work experience. ] During the spring and summer semester of their second year in the program, each IDEAL student will be take a capstone experience that will include two components:

  • Participation in an internship in a local business or arts organization related to his or her identified career goals; and
  • Development of a digital portfolio of his or her work. The internship will provide an opportunity for on-going experiences and mentoring/coaching in an aspirational work context.

Potential supports provided to IDEAL students:

  • Accommodations (note takers, tutors, readers, scribes, extended time on assessments, etc.)
  • STAR (ongoing development and tracking of academic and career goals)
  • Peer Mentors (GSU students who volunteer to assist students on campus, in class, or with social activities/outings)
  • Workshops (Agency sponsored workshops on a variety of topics: APD, VR, Medicaid, Social Security, Career Expos, Financial Literacy/RealSense)
  • Social Events (GSU cultural and sporting events, community/neighborhood festivals, student-planned community outings, etc.
  • Work Experience (on and off-campus internships, employment placement assistance)
  • Health & Wellness Activities (structured opportunities for students to exercise and/or learn about healthy living habits)