TSTC’s Access and Learning Accommodations office celebrates the contributions of TSTC students with disabilities who strive in their educational journeys toward employment during National Disability Employment Awareness Month.

(HARLINGEN, Texas) – At Texas State Technical College, the Access and Learning Accommodations (ALA) office serves as a resource for students who may experience barriers due to a disability — especially when students are striving in their educational journeys toward employment.

Every October, National Disability Employment Awareness Month celebrates the contributions of America’s workers with disabilities. It is led by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy to highlight the importance of ensuring that individuals with disabilities have equal opportunity in the workplace.

“The ALA statewide team provides community referrals such as the Texas Workforce Solutions Vocational Rehabilitation Services, which provides resources through financial sponsorship for individuals who are seeking training to get hired in the Texas workforce,” said Corina De La Rosa, TSTC’s ALA statewide consultant in Harlingen. “ALA specialists meet with students and determine services on a case-by-case basis to remove barriers so they can participate in the educational experience.”

Heather Bocanegra, a vocational rehabilitation counselor for Texas Workforce Solutions Vocational Rehabilitation Services in Harlingen, said their program assists with placement in all types of occupations and industries that best fit the needs of the workers.

“After receiving individualized services and tailored vocational counseling and guidance, customers learn how to address and manage their disability-related needs,” she said. “Self-esteem is increased, soft skills are gained, and customers are empowered to make informed choices in all aspects of their future.”

Bocanegra added that individuals can gain the self-advocacy skills and professionalism required to obtain and maintain employment.

“Our customers learn how to ask for accommodations and become knowledgeable about their local community resources and long-term support,” she said.

In 2022, about 21 percent of people with a disability in the United States were employed, up from about 19 percent in 2021, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Delia Salazar, a TSTC ALA specialist, said students with disabilities are provided with information about resources such as the Job Accommodation Network, which according to its website, askjan.org, is “the leading source of free, expert and confidential guidance on job accommodations and disability employment issues.”

To learn more about National Disability Employment Awareness Month, visit https://www.dol.gov/agencies/odep/initiatives/ndeam.

Registration for TSTC’s spring semester is underway. For more information, visit tstc.edu.

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