Click here to view this message as a web page. February 2018, Vol. 4, No. 1
The RAISE Standard Newsletter
Raising the Standard for Young Adults with Disabilities
Technical Assistance and Resources for RSA-funded
Parent Training and Information Centers
“The soft skills are the hard skills.”
- Amy Edmondson,
professor of Leadership & Management,
Harvard Business School

According to the Leadership Insights Survey by the Center for Creative Leadership, business leaders say the most important competencies among young workers are:

  • Self-motivation/discipline: 44%
  • Effective communication: 40%
  • Learning agility: 29%
  • Self-awareness: 26%
  • Adaptability/versatility: 22%

In this Valentine’s Day edition of The RAISE Standard e-news, we will look at the importance of these and other soft skills, and how to teach them so young people are ready to go to work.
A Closer Look magnifying glass icon
What ARE Soft Skills?

  • Communication
  • Enthusiasm and Attitude
  • Teamwork
  • Networking
  • Problem-Solving and Critical Thinking
  • Professionalism
(from U.S. Department of Labor)

Youth with these skills are MORE likely to be hired, and less likely to be fired, so we love this detailed curriculum guide designed by the Department of Labor to help teach young people soft skills.

Don’t want to read? Watch instead. This short summary offers an overview of key soft skills.

And for some fun, here is a student-friendly video about enthusiasm and attitude.
In this TEDxYouth presentation, advocate Dylan Alcott talks about growing up with a disability and reflects on his 14-year-old self, offering insight about the need for positive role models.

Tools that Work icon with hammer and screwdriver
Students spend MOST of their time out of school, so getting parents and caregivers involved is vital. This Info Brief produced by the National Collaborative on Workforce and Disability (in English and in Spanish) offers research-based tips and strategies for parents to help them teach and reinforce soft skills.

Point to Make icon - pushpin with human face
Knowing how to apologize at work is a superpower! Here are 5 steps to teach students so they can learn how to plan and structure an apology.

1. Really be sorry
Understand your role in the problem or situation. Try not to be defensive, but rather, try to understand how the other person might feel.

“I am so sorry you got the wrong order.”

2. Validate the person’s feelings
You don’t have to agree with everything, but you can certainly listen to HOW the other person feels.

“I know it can be really frustrating
not to get the food you ordered.”

3. Explain what happened
Do not offer an excuse, but rather, try to give your best summary of what led up to the problem.

“I had a lot of orders that day and I must
have been working too fast and not
paying enough attention.”

4. Admit the mistake
Take ownership for the error.

“I made a mistake packing your order,
and that is my fault.”

5. Describe what you will do DIFFERENTLY
Describe your plan of action to help improve performance.

“Next time, even if the restaurant is very busy,
I will take the time to double-check every order.”

(From Help Scout)
Resources icon - three books on a shelf
This one is an oldie but a goodie! We like this 2010 guidance document from The Office of Disability Employment Policy on Teaching Soft Skills Through Workplace Simulations in Classroom Settings.

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The National Center for Educational Evaluation and Regional Assistance (NCEE) has published the report volume from the National Longitudinal Transition Study 2012 (NLTS 2012). It presents information on the changes over time in the characteristics and high school experiences of secondary students participating in special education. This volume compares survey data in 1987, 2003, and 2012 from the three NLTS, focusing on 15- to 18-year olds with an IEP overall and in 12 federal disability groups.

First, the good news: Findings suggest that students with disabilities have become more engaged in school and increased their use of school supports over the last decade.

Now, the bad news: they are less likely than before to take some key steps to prepare for their transition to adult life.

Among students with an IEP, youth with emotional disturbance and youth with intellectual disability experienced more positive changes over the past decade than youth in other disability groups.

Upcoming events calendar icon
Virtual Career Fairs are being held nationwide.

2018 National Self-Advocacy Conference
– The Next Steps
Thursday, June 7, 2018 - Saturday, June 9, 2018
Location: Birmingham, AL
In this issue, we feature RAISE Activist LeDerick Horne (right) joined by Dr. Ann Deschamps at the RAISE Summit held last September.

Labeled as neurologically impaired in third grade, LeDerick is an advocate for people with disabilities and an inspiring motivational speaker.
Ann Dechamp and LeDerick Horne
Ann Deschamp and LeDerick Horne
The grandson of one of New Jersey’s most prominent civil rights leaders, LeDerick uses his gift for spoken-word poetry as a gateway to larger discussions on equal opportunity, pride, self-determination and hope for people with disabilities.

He regularly addresses an array of academic, government, social, and business groups, including appearances at the White House, the United Nations, Harvard University, the National Association of State Directors of Special Education, and the Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Nevada, and Alabama State Departments of Education. His work addresses the challenges of all disabilities, uniting the efforts of diverse groups in order to achieve substantive, systemic change. You can learn more about LeDerick by visiting his website,

Check out LeDerick's Youtube essay for Black History Month about author Octavia Butler, who struggled with dyslexia.

Collaboration • Empowerment • Capacity-building

The Raise Standard enewsletter identifies and shares resources that the Rehabilitation Services Administration Parent Training and Information Centers (RSA-PTI) can use and share with families.
Executive Editor:
Peg Kinsell
Visit our Website:
RAISE, the National Resources for Access, Independence, Self-Advocacy and Employment is a user-centered technical assistance center that understands the needs and assets of the RSA-PTIs, coordinates efforts with the Technical Assistance provided by PTI centers and involves RSA-PTIs as key advisors and partners in all product and service development and delivery.
US Department of Education official seal
RAISE is funded by the US Department of Education to provide technical assistance to, and coordination of, the 7 PTI centers (RSA-PTIs). It represents collaboration between the nation's two Parent Technical Assistance Centers (PTAC) and the seven Regional PTACs.