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Voices of Experience

The Voices of Experience video series features the personal stories of parents, youth, employers, and others and lessons they learned throughout the transition process. These videos, created by PACER’s National Parent Center on Transition and Employment, highlight a range of topics, including high expectations, transition planning, assistive technology, and cultural implications.

Meet Sue Pratt

Watch - Meet Sue Pratt

Meet Sue Pratt

Meet Sue Pratt, well respected leader in the parent advocacy movement and mother of an adult with autism. In her series of videos Sue shares stories and insights about understanding autism and being a strong advocate for her son as he made the transition from school to living in the community.

  • Topics: Autism, Intellectual Disability, Supportive Adults, Perseverance, Impact of Disability on Family
  • Date Posted: 4/4/2016
  • Duration: 2 min
Watch - Sue Pratt on Understanding Autism

Sue Pratt on Understanding Autism

Sue discusses the importance of understanding the communication and verbal processing challenges persons with autism may experience.

  • Topics: Autism, Communication Challenges, Celebrating Differences
  • Date Posted: 4/4/2016
  • Duration: 2 min
Watch - Sue Pratt on the Importance of a Transition Plan

Sue Pratt on the Importance of a Transition Plan

Sue shares about the power of high expectations and the role a well-constructed transition plan plays in success for transitioning youth.

  • Topics: Finding Strengths, High Expectations, Perseverance, Transition, Special Education
  • Date Posted: 4/4/2016
  • Duration: 2 min
Watch - Sue Pratt on Finding a Housing Solution

Sue Pratt on Finding a Housing Solution

Sue discusses how perseverance and understanding her son’s wants and needs led to finding a housing situation that was right for him.

  • Topics: Community Supports, Connecting Youth, Family Support, Housing
  • Date Posted: 4/4/2016
  • Duration: 3 min
Watch - Sue Pratt on Parents Being the Experts

Sue Pratt on Parents Being the Experts

Sue discusses the fact that when it comes to their own children, parents are the experts.

  • Topics: Family Support, High Expectations, Collaboration, Special Education
  • Date Posted: 4/4/2016
  • Duration: 2 min

Meet Hassan Samantar

Watch - Meet Hassan Samantar

Meet Hassan Samantar

Meet Hassan Samantar, a parent advocate at PACER Center who serves Minnesota’s Somali population. In this series of videos, Hassan provides historical context for why Somali families came to America, discusses the challenges many Somali families face when having a child with a disability, and offers advice to Somali families who have transition-age youth.

  • Topics: Somali Parents, Community Supports, Perseverance
  • Date Posted: 4/8/2015
  • Duration: 5 min
Watch - Hassan Samantar on Somali Families and Disability

Hassan Samantar on Somali Families and Disability

Hassan Samantar discusses how Somali culture impacts families and their experience with having a child with a disability.

  • Topics: Somali Parents, Impact of Disability on Family, Family Support
  • Date Posted: 4/8/2015
  • Duration: 6 min
Watch - Hassan Samantar on Advice to Somali Families

Hassan Samantar on Advice to Somali Families

Hassan Samantar offers advice to Somali families about youth transitioning to adulthood.

  • Topics: Somali Parents, Special Education, Family Support
  • Date Posted: 4/8/2015
  • Duration: 4 min

Meet Dao Xiong

Watch - Meet Dao Xiong

Meet Dao Xiong

Meet Dao Xiong, a parent advocate at PACER and father of an adult daughter with intellectual disabilities. In this series of videos, Dao speaks about maintaining high expectations for his daughter, how his culture has impacted those expectations, and offers advice to other Asian-American families with youth with disabilities.

  • Topics: Asian-American Parents, Intellectual Disability, Impact of Disability on Family, High Expectations
  • Date Posted: 4/8/2015
  • Duration: 4 min
Watch - Dao Xiong on How Culture Impacted Expectations

Dao Xiong on How Culture Impacted Expectations

Dao Xiong discusses how his cultural beliefs and traditions have impacted his expectations for his daughter’s future.

  • Topics: Asian-American Parents, Intellectual Disability, Family Support
  • Date Posted: 4/8/2015
  • Duration: 4 min
Watch - Dao Xiong on Advice to Asian-American Parents

Dao Xiong on Advice to Asian-American Parents

Dao Xiong shares advice for other Asian-American families who have youth with disabilities.

  • Topics: Asian-American Parents, Intellectual Disability, Community Supports, Family Support, Preparing for Employment
  • Date Posted: 4/8/2015
  • Duration: 5 min

Meet Jesus Villasenor

Watch - Meet Jesus Villasenor

Meet Jesus Villasenor

Meet Jesus Villasenor, a parent advocate at PACER Center and father of a young adult with learning disabilities. Jesus tells his story, and offers advice to other Latino parents on helping their youth with a disability through the transition years.

  • Topics: Learning Disability, Family Support, Latino Parents, ADD/ADHD, High Expectations, Finding Strengths
  • Date Posted: 4/8/2015
  • Duration: 7 min

Meet Jonathan Mooney

Watch - Meet Jonathan Mooney

Meet Jonathan Mooney

Meet Jonathan Mooney, prolific author, sought-after national speaker, and a young man with significant learning disabilities.

  • Topics: Learning Disability, Supportive Adults, Celebrating Differences
  • Date Posted: 3/11/2015
  • Duration: 3 min
Watch - Jonathan Mooney on Strategies to Thrive

Jonathan Mooney on Strategies to Thrive

Jonathan Mooney shares strategies to help youth thrive in life.

  • Topics: Family Support, Finding Strengths, Connecting Youth
  • Date Posted: 3/11/2015
  • Duration: 4 min
Watch - Jonathan Mooney on the Role of Adults

Jonathan Mooney on the Role of Adults

Jonathan Mooney discusses the role of adults in his life.

  • Topics: Family Support, Supportive Adults, Perseverance, High Expectations
  • Date Posted: 3/2/2015
  • Duration: 5 min
Watch - Jonathan Mooney on Lessons Learned

Jonathan Mooney on Lessons Learned

Jonathan Mooney discusses the lessons he learned from his disability.

  • Topics: Learning Disability, Self-Advocacy, Accommodations
  • Date Posted: 3/11/2015
  • Duration: 4 min

Meet Rachel Magario

Watch - Meet Rachel Magario

Meet Rachel Magario

Meet Rachel Magario, an assistive technology specialist at PACER Center and a person who is blind. In her series of videos, Rachel shares her story, including the impact of assistive technology, parental support, and maintaining a positive outlook for the future.

  • Topics: Perseverance, Vision Disability
  • Date Posted: 3/11/2015
  • Duration: 2 min
Watch - Rachel Magario on Postsecondary Education

Rachel Magario on Postsecondary Education

Rachel Magario discusses success in postsecondary education.

  • Topics: Postsecondary Education, Employment, Self-Advocacy, High Expectations
  • Date Posted: 3/11/2015
  • Duration: 3 min
Watch - Rachel Magario on Assistive Technology

Rachel Magario on Assistive Technology

Rachel Magario shares how assistive technology has advanced her success.

  • Topics: Assistive Technology, Accommodations, Vision Disability
  • Date Posted: 3/11/2015
  • Duration: 3 min
Watch - Rachel Magario on Becoming Successful

Rachel Magario on Becoming Successful

Rachel Magario shares how attitude has helped her overcome difficulties.

  • Topics: Family Support, Self-Advocacy, Perseverance
  • Date Posted: 3/11/2015
  • Duration: 2 min
Watch - Rachel Magario on the Role of Parents

Rachel Magario on the Role of Parents

Rachel Magario discusses the role of parents for transition-age youth.

  • Topics: Family Support, High Expectations, Vision Disability
  • Date Posted: 3/11/2015
  • Duration: 2 min

Meet John

Watch - Meet John

Meet John

Meet John, an assistive technology specialist at PACER Center and a young adult with a cognitive disability. John discusses understanding his disability, finding his strengths, and the role high expectations played in his academic and career success.

  • Topics: Self-Awareness, ADD/ADHD, Family Support, Postsecondary Education, Finding Strengths
  • Date Posted: 3/11/2015
  • Duration: 5 min

Meet Brandon Ziemke

Watch - Meet Brandon Ziemke

Meet Brandon Ziemke

Meet Brandon Ziemke, a college student, employee and young man with an intellectual disability. Brandon talks about overcoming obstacles, the impact of caring adults in his life, and his hopes and dreams for the future.

  • Topics: Employment, Postsecondary Education, High Expectations, Perseverance
  • Date Posted: 3/11/2015
  • Duration: 3 min

Meet Danette Smith

Watch - Voices of Experience: Meet Danette Smith

Voices of Experience: Meet Danette Smith

Meet Danette Smith, a mother of a child with a disability and a Human Resources professional. Danette offers strategies for how young people can prepare themselves to meet the needs of employers. She highlights the importance of soft skills, making a good first impression, and being a “curious, passionate learner.”

  • Topics: Employment, Accommodations, Career Development, Disclosure, Soft Skills, Preparing for Employment
  • Date Posted: 8/10/2016
  • Duration: 3 min
Watch - Danette Smith: Job Search and Interview Tips

Danette Smith: Job Search and Interview Tips

Danette Smith discusses what employers look for in a resume, the importance of a cover letter, and ways youth with communication challenges can convey they skills and passion.

  • Topics: Employment, Accommodations, Career Development, Disclosure, Soft Skills, Preparing for Employment
  • Date Posted: 8/10/2016
  • Duration: 4 min

Meet Judge Donovan

Watch - Meet Judge Frank

Meet Judge Frank

The Honorable Donovan W. Frank is a Senior United States District Judge for the District of Minnesota. In this video he discusses his personal history with the inclusion of people with disabilities. The other videos in the series demonstrate how the value of inclusion has made a difference in his career as a judge.

  • Topics: Inclusion
  • Date Posted: 2/15/2018
  • Duration: 3 min
Watch - Judge Frank on People with Disabilities Serving on Juries

Judge Frank on People with Disabilities Serving on Juries

Judge Frank shares a story of a woman who was blind serving on a jury panel for a case in his courtroom and how it impacted others’ perceptions of people with disabilities.

  • Topics: Inclusion
  • Date Posted: 2/15/2018
  • Duration: 4 min
Watch - Judge Frank on Including Disability as Part of Diversity and Challenging Stereotypes

Judge Frank on Including Disability as Part of Diversity and Challenging Stereotypes

Judge Frank discusses the importance of including disability as part of diversity efforts and challenging stereotypes.

  • Topics: Inclusion
  • Date Posted: 2/15/2018
  • Duration: 3 min