Preparing Students With Disabilities to Join the Workforce

photo of UCF graduate Isfar Ali

IES for Students with Disabilities

Wheelchairs and stretchers don’t just appear in the hospital where they’re needed, someone must put them there. At Orlando Health, one of those people is Isfar Ali. Isfar graduated from the University of Central Florida’s Inclusive Education Services (IES) Professional Certification Program, which led to his current position at Orlando Health. Isfar, who has communication-based intellectual disabilities, joined the program to prepare for joining the workforce and utilizing his motor skills.

IES at UCF gives students with intellectual disabilities an academic experience to learn how to utilize their greatest skills in the workplace. 

Isfar’s father, Kaiser Ali, decided to help Isfar apply to the IES Professional Certification Program because he wanted his son to have the chance to find a job he could excel at. 

Benefits of the IES Professional Certification Program

“The main idea was that this is for students with a disability, you know, different kinds of disability, mostly intellectual,” Ali says. “So, the main idea was to basically ready them to put them into programs where they can have a job and employment.” 

The program is a two-year experience where students can choose to study social services, hospitality or education. Isfar chose to study both social services and hospitality during his program. He participated in classes that not only helped him learn about the area of concentration that he was interested in but in classes that taught professional skills.

According to the IES website, internship experience coordinators work with each student to secure an on-campus work experience and connect with an off-campus internship partner. Once students complete the program, they receive a professional services credential.

Interning at Orlando Health

Isfar worked at UCF Bike N Gold at UCF during the first semester of his program. His off-campus internship was at Orlando Health, where he interned for six weeks. 

“Orlando Health has an initiative to employ student interns who have some form of an exceptional learning ability and so we partner with them,” Alia Hall, Internship Experience Coordinator at IES says. “I work with Orlando Health to come up with ideas to develop our program and their program simultaneously.” 

After having Isfar as an intern, Orlando Health decided to hire him based on his exceptional work performance. Isfar has worked there for two years and has been recognized as a star employee ever since. 

Full-time Employment

Brandon Hardison, who trained Isfar and has been working as his supervisor at Orlando Health, recognized Isfar’s work ethic and reliability from day one. Isfar’s job is to properly position stretchers and wheelchairs around the hospital so they can be of use to transporters and not obstruct any hallways. He is also responsible for cleaning and sanitizing them.

“We didn’t know what to expect at first when we got Isfar, but he’s been an asset to the team and the entire team is happy to have him,” Hardison says. “If there are any more applicants like Isfar who are looking for a place to work, I know Orlando Health is happy to have all members of the community.” 

Hall is using Isfar’s success story and the feedback she’s gotten back from Orlando Health as part of the framework for IES’s program going forward. As she places future students in places UCF has partnered with to employ them, she pays attention to the skills and assets required in these workplaces. 

Isfar says that he really likes working at Orlando Health, even though it’s a lot of hard work. His father says that he would recommend the program to anyone like Isfar who is looking to utilize the skills they have outside of their disability.

“They find the appropriate scale for the development they can put. This is very important, to find the skill of the students when they’re in the programs and to transition them into the appropriate employment, job, or internship programs,” Ali says. “So that was definitely necessary, and I’d recommend this program.” 

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