What is ACCESS?

ACCESS is a program for high school age special education students that is designed to help students obtain vocational and employability skills. ACCESS provides local districts within the Mississippi Bend Area Education Agency (AEA 9) service area with an additional option to meet the vocational needs of students with disabilities.

Who is Eligible to Participate in ACCESS?

Only students enrolled in high school and receiving special education services are eligible. In addition, students need to identify an appropriate career goal. In order to identify a career goal, they should have completed career exploration activities, as well as any high school vocational courses related to his/her career interest. Students who enroll in ACCESS must be able to perform the essential skills of the selected coursework with reasonable accommodations. ACCESS  students MUST remain enrolled at the high school while they are in the program. This enables the school to continue receiving funding, which off-sets the cost of the program. Most schools allow ACCESS students to walk with their graduation class, but they do not give them their diploma until they exit ACCESS.


What are the Benefits of Participating in ACCESS?

ACCESS students receive a higher level of individualized support than typically provided in a community college setting. While students are enrolled in ACCESS, they receive one-on-one assistance with coursework, and assistance in developing skills for success in college (time management, study skills, self-advocacy skills). The ACCESS Specialist meets with each student on a regular basis to set goals and review progress. As students prepare to exit the ACCESS program, they will be transitioned to support services offered at the college. Throughout the enrollment in ACCESS, each student's progress will be tracked in order to assist the school district in documenting progress in the IEP.


Who Pays for ACCESS?

Participation in ACCESS is paid for by the student's school district. The approximate cost of the program is $3,000 - $3,500 per student per semester. This amount varies depending upon the number of students enrolled in ACCESS and the amount of credits the student takes. The cost includes the student's tuition, books, and the services provided through the program. Since students remain enrolled at the school district while in ACCESS, the school continues to receive funding to cover the cost of ACCESS.


What is the Referral Process?

  1. The IEP team explores multiple options for vocational and employability skill development. If the IEP team determines that the needs of a student cannot be met in the local high school, a referral to ACCESS can be made. Referrals should be made at least one semester before the student intends to participate in ACCESS.

  2. The IEP team then invites an ACCESS representative to attend a planning meeting. During this planning time, meetings with students and parents to discuss options at the college and tours of the selected campus would be appropriate. To invite ACCESS to a meeting, contact  563-441-4355

  3. If the IEP team determines that ACCESS is the best route, the IEP should be revised to reflect that decision.

  4. ACCESS Program staff will then coordinate the college application process and provide the support services indicated in the student's IEP.

For more information about ACCESS, contact 563-441-4355.