Bridge

A young man with a white cane wearing a cap and gown at graduation ceremony.

COLLEGE PREPARATORY PROGRAM

Helping students bridge the gap between high school and college

 

Washington State Department Services for the Blind (DSB) offers Bridge – a five-week summer program to assist blind or visually impaired students in their transition from high school to post-secondary education. We work closely with DSB’s Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) program to offer a “Bridge” between high school and college. 

Bridge is held at Eastern Washington University (EWU) in Cheney, Washington – near Spokane – from mid-July to mid-August each year. A residential program, students live in a dorm and learn about campus life in preparation for entering Running Start, college or university in the future.

The non-college credit Bridge course runs during the week prior to the start of EWU course work. Each session is specifically designed to address the unique needs of blind students. Bridge classes consist of lectures and assignments focusing on college life, study and social skills, and independence taught by DSB and EWU Disability Support Services staff. Students also learn campus and community Orientation and Mobility, including tours of the library, bookstore, cafeteria, and computer lab. There is also time for field trips and recreational activities. 

At the conclusion of the first week, Bridge students participate in a five-credit university course from the EWU summer session catalog. This academic course presents a traditional ten-week curriculum in a compressed, four-week class. Throughout the five weeks of the Bridge program, students receive academic, social, and independence support – including mentorship – from DSB and EWU staff. 

 

ABOUT BRIDGE

 

IS BRIDGE FOR YOU?  

Prior to making the important decision to attend Bridge, please look over the following objectives and expectations.  If you believe the Bridge program will benefit your upcoming college experience, please submit a Bridge application.

The Bridge curriculum was developed around your needs as a blind/visually impaired college student, to survive and thrive in college.  The program includes aspects of academics, independence, self-advocacy, and social situations traditionally encountered in college settings.

Bridge Course Training (Week 1)

Training specifically designed to address the unique needs of blind students.  These sessions are taught by DSB and EWU staff and is a non-credit course. The Bridge short-course is presented the first week of the five-week program, Monday through Friday, four hours per day.  Class time consists of lecture; orientation and mobility; tours of the campus to include the bookstore, cafeteria, computer labs, housing, library, and Eastern Washington University’s Disability Support Services (DSS).  Bridge also invites guest speakers from DSB and EWU. 

Topics covered include:

Paperwork and task completion 

Students receive, complete, and return necessary paperwork for program applications, college registration and housing.  Communications will be made via phone, email, and postal mail in alternate format.

Orientation & Mobility on campus and in community

DSB’s O&M staff will teach and monitor safe travel routes from residence hall to university campus and cities of Cheney and Spokane.  Destinations include the EWU classrooms and other essential locations, such as cafeteria, library, grocery stores, recreation center, etc.

College major, scheduling classes, advising

EWU Student Advising will conduct a tour and guest lecture.  They will chat with participants about General University Requirements (GUR’s), spacing of class time and class intensity, and linking college degrees to future employment and job market. 

Financing college, scholarships, & SSI

DSB explains the process of financial aid and unmet financial need for college; help obtaining scholarships; and how SSI works if you are a student working part-time.

Computer literacy and Assistive Technology

Students learn about college-level expectations for typed papers, email communications, internet research and hybrid classes.  They will tour-and gain familiarity with-the university’s many computer labs and DSS’s access equipment. 

Several Bridge students gather around a table in the Eastern Washington University Student Cafeteria.

Recreation, Social Life, Support Groups

Bridge students live in a modern co-ed residence hall on EWU campus.  DSB Staff will lead a presentation and discussion about the social aspects of college life.  Both the lighter side—how to make friends, live with roommates, attend events, join clubs and balance school/work and social life—andthe stressful and problematic side—loneliness, sex, drugs, drinking, relationship difficulties, and how to deal with it.

Disability Support Services

Bridge class is taught by DSB and DSS staff. Students individually meet with DSS staff to articulate their accommodation needs.  They learn about the reasonable accommodations typically offered in colleges.  Students also introduce themselves to their professor.

Coordination with DSB’s Vocational Rehabilitation

A DSB VR Counselor will give a presentation on the importance of working with your VR counselor, describing the Individual Plan for Employment, the need for quarterly contact, and keeping counselor informed of your progress and situations.

Note-taking, college-level writing, and test taking skills.

Students will learn about efficient note-taking skills at a college-level pace, expectation of paper-writing and oral presentations, and effective test-taking strategies through lectures and exercises lead by DSB staff. 

University Coursework (Weeks 2 - 5)

The remaining four weeks students will participate in a 5-credit college class at EWU and practice the skills learned from the Bridge classes.  This academic course presents a traditional ten-week curriculum in a compressed, four-week class. Students passing the class can transfer the credits to any other college or university.

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A graphic of a road-type sign stating “College Bound”

ELIGIBILITY

To be eligible for Bridge, students must: 

  • Be a participant of DSB’s Youth or Vocational Rehabilitation services
  • Be college bound in fall quarter after high school graduation; or be a high school student entering Running Start.
  • Have age-appropriate levels of Orientation & Mobility (O&M) and Daily Living Skills. 
  • Be proficient with alternate reading formats such as e-text files, large print, scanned materials, etc.
  • Possess computer literacy skills, such as basic keyboarding, email, virtual meeting formats and internet, etc.

A minimal level of competency in activities of daily living (ADL) and O&M skills is required and may be assessed prior to enrollment.  Refinement of ADL and O&M skills will be provided on an individualized basis, if needed.

Students planning to attend college – either this year or in years to come – can start building their Bridge to collegiate success by contacting a Youth Services Specialist or their VR counselor for details.

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COSTS AND FEES

DSB does not charge any fees for participation in its summer programs.

DSB Youth Services will cover tuition, textbooks, and Room and Board.  Students will be housed in EWU dormitories. Room and Board also includes a cafeteria plan, laundry facilities, recreation center access, computer lab fees, and bus passes.

Students will want to bring their own funds for incidentals, social activities, snacks, etc.  

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APPLICATION INFORMATION 

Registration Opens: January 1
Registration Deadline: February 28

If you meet the above eligibility criteria, and Bridge can benefit you in terms of college preparation, please complete the online statement of interest below no later than February 28. 

For more information, please contact Jazmin Rials at 509-306-8464. 

Registration Requirements

Online Registration

Completion of the online registration form indicates interest in participation in the Bridge College Preparatory Program. Responses to all questions (including the Student Essay) are required. Online Registrations must be received by the Registration Deadline.

Student Essay

A Student Essay describing what you hope to gain by participating in the Bridge program (300 words minimum. 500 words maximum) is required at time of online registration submission. It is recommended that students complete the essay before beginning the the online registration process.

Student / Parent Interview

Additional application information will be gathered during a 45-minute telephone or online interview with student and parent/guardian. The DSB Youth Services Specialists will discuss the program details, explain the program commitments, and complete the student registration.

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Registration Opens: January 1

 

CONTACT INFORMATION

For more information on the Bridge College Prep Program, please contact Jazmin Rials at 509-306-8464.

 

Request DSB services for children, youth, or students online. Or contact us at 800-552-7103 or info@dsb.wa.gov for more information.

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