Article on Representational Portfolios

The theory of the Portfolio is that a customized visual presentation on behalf of a student will assist either the job developer or the student themselves as they speak with employers. A Representationl Portfolio will assist job developers with the flow of their presentations in describing what they do and in assisting the employer to have positive images of students with significant disabilities working in a variety of jobs.

The Prototype Representational Portfolio
The Portfolio information is in a binder that is hinged to fold back and form a tabletop easel. The prototype of the Representational Portfolio is in two parts: 1) general school information and photographs; and 2) specific information and photographs of the student looking for a job.

The general information begins with the page, “We match individual employee skills with specific employer needs.” A photograph that represents the narrative follows this page. The remainder of these pages follows this flow – all of the photographs represent the narrative of the proceeding page. These photos depict students with different disabilities, in different employment situations.

The next section is of a particular student, the focus of the person for job development. Pictures of the student should showcase them in many of the activities they currently enjoy, with different people and in different settings. The narrative that is included speaks to the individual’s preferences and contributions. This sections flows like the preceding section – a photograph represents narrative.

Both the text and the photos are carefully chosen. The text supports the idea that as job developers we begin the process by doings things the “natural” way. This means that we work with an individual employer to hire and train an applicant with a disability in the same manner they would use for an applicant without a disability. Only the key points of the text are highlighted, not read, for the employer. In the same manner, it is not necessary to tell the entire story of the student who is pictured.