Like most young people, Angelina Hernandez, Dan Harris and Harry Goulart (Goo – LART) have hopes and dreams for their personal and work lives after finishing with school. All three have been students in the public education system. The only differences in reaching their aspirations has been in their everyday struggle in living with disabilities. Their efforts to find schooling or work after their public education years have led them to a growing Massachusetts non-profit organization called the Disability Law Center.

On February 12, Temple Street caught up with the students at an Educational Transition Conference run by the Disability Law Center. Children and parents gathered at the Metropolitan Community Room in Chinatown to listen to the stories, trials, and advice of family members and advocacy lawyers who have all had experiences in the field of special education, and specifically the area of “transition services.”

Alan Kerzin, the Executive Director of the DLC, gave a moving speech about the importance of DLC’s work, including its commitment to advocating for young people with disabilities approaching graduation age.

ALAN KERZIN speaks

The main focus of the conference, Kerzin said, was educating students and parents about their rights to receive, during high school years, training in work, independent living and social skills. DLC also spoke about a bill called “Bridges to Success” a proposal to create an opportunities for students with disabilities by providing them with services from various government agencies once they graduate. The bill would help students with disabilities move on to college or work.

ALAN KERZIN speaks

Dan Harris, a freshman at Quincy College, spoke about why developing skills in self-advocacy, highlighted during the conference, is so important as students are moving from school to work or independent living.

DAN HARRIS speaks

This special education conference is developed to benefit parents like Liz and Rosia, whose children Harry and Angelina will face challenges as they leave high school for adult life, including college or employment.

LIZ GOULART speaks

Pamela Coveney (COVE-a-nee), a staff attorney from the Disability Law Center, which has represented hundreds of special education students, including Harry and Angelina.

PAMELA COVENEY speaks

Thanks to the DLC, the fight for this equality movement continues for so many students seeking opportunities through special education. Ultimately, this battle will be fought by DLC on many fronts, including community trainings, legislative advocacy, and promoting and supporting self-advocacy by people with disabilities.
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