A-B Tech to Receive State Funding to Expand Support for Students with Disabilities

A-B Tech is poised to expand its support for students with disabilities. The college was one of 15 NC community colleges approved by the State Board of Community Colleges on February 16 for participation in the Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (IDD) Student Workforce Training Program.

Participating in the IDD program will enable A-B Tech to hire a full-time coordinator to support students with intellectual and developmental disabilities with the development, access, and achievement of their college plans. The coordinator also will support the growth of programs and services accessible to these students across the college.

In November 2023, the NC Community College System received $4 million in recurring funds to create a regional support network for job training and employer networking for IDD students. It is an expansion of a successful pilot program at Catawba Valley Community College and Brunswick Community College that helped IDD students earn credentials and skills for the workforce.

A-B Tech’s current IDD program includes Successful Occupational Achievement Readiness (SOAR), a free two-year program launched in fall 2023, that helps students build skills, fine-tune goals, and earn micro credentials that align with their chosen life and career paths. A group of eight SOAR students just completed a class in January called Working Smart that focused on skills such as problem-solving, communication, and time management.

Through another existing program, Project SEARCH, A-B Tech students work with the Biltmore Estate in internships that prepare them for jobs with local employers. Graduates have found employment at businesses, including Lowes, Mission Hospital, and MOD Pizza.

Coordinator of Adult Basic Education Dr. Barbara Fedock presently oversees the SOAR program, coordinating with instructors across campus and designing a curriculum that caters to students’ specific interests and needs. Fedock said that being able to hire a new IDD coordinator will help A-B Tech expand programs such as SOAR and SEARCH.

“We can do wider recruiting, coaching and mentoring,” she said. “Right now, we’re doing it on a small scale. Now it can be a larger scale.”

The new coordinator position will allow Fedock to focus on additional program development, advocacy, and promotion for the college’s IDD programs. “[The coordinator] and I will work together to identify clear pathways for in-demand occupations,” she said. “This will enrich the program we already have.”

Learn more at Successful Occupational Achievement Readiness (SOAR) or Project SEARCH or call (828) 398-7131.

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