New SOAR Program Builds Occupational Skills for Intellectually and Developmentally Challenged Adults

A two-year program beginning this fall at A-B Tech aims to empower adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities to master the skills needed for occupational goals. Successful Occupational Achievement Readiness (SOAR) is an integrated literacy project-based vocational training program that meets Monday through Thursday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Enrollment for SOAR is open from July 31 to August 4.

Dr. Barbara Fedock, Coordinator of Adult Basic Education, explained, “This program appeals to a broad range of students, and they will be introduced to a wide variety of careers. For example, one current applicant said, ‘I need to be able to get the skills I need to become an auto mechanic, to do autobody work.’ I have two other students interested in cosmetology. So, we will design courses to align with their career development. What math skills will you need to become a mechanic? How do you read the text for cosmetology classes?”

SOAR is designed to build both academic and career success and includes activities ranging from public speaking to how to write work-related memos and formal emails. Fedock said the program will work with A-B Tech’s Human Resources Development (HRD) and Continuing Education departments to match students with classes such as typing or computers that will enhance workforce skills. SOAR is broken up into two parts: The first year is dedicated to surveying strengths and building critical thinking, literacy, and math skills; the second is to building employability skills. Fedock emphasized that classes are designed to flexibly accommodate a variety of levels and abilities.

“If a student applies tests at a higher level, they might be ready to start our second year in January,” she said. “We’ll find out what’s available to them and meet them where they are.”

She added that the ideal SOAR student is an adult who has the motivation to work towards long-term employment goals. “We’re not getting them the job, we’re giving them the skills they need to get the job,” she said. “They’re learning what the college has to offer, what their talents are, and what skills they need for the workplace.”

Students will receive a badge for each section of the program they complete and will be awarded a certificate upon finishing the program. If students need special accommodations, she added, Student Services will work with them to make sure they’re supported. The program also includes access to Bloom Fitness, a physical fitness program geared especially toward adults with disabilities. If students opt-in, they’ll be able to partake in yoga, walking, or dance classes and utilize workout equipment in a safe, supportive environment.

To learn more about application requirements and to apply, visit Successful Occupational Achievement Readiness (SOAR). For questions about enrollment, contact Dr. Barbara Fedock, coordinator of Adult Basic Education, at (828) 398-7131 or email

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