AT and Transition
Post Secondary Transition:
From High School to College or Employment
The transition services requirements in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) 2004 (P.L. 108-446) are intended to improve the quality of life of young adults with disabilities. The basic purpose of IDEA legislation is to ensure that all children with disabilities have available to them a free appropriate public education (FAPE) that emphasizes special education and related services designed to meet their unique needs and prepare them for further education, employment and independent living. [601(d)(1)(A)]
It also enables children to gain access to the services that are necessary for them to accomplish the outcomes they desire and to have services in place before they leave school. The first Individualized Education Plan (IEP) addressing transition is to be in effect when the child with a disability turns 16 and it is updated annually thereafter. Children, parents, and agency representatives are all active participants in developing, reviewing, and revising the transition components of the child's IEP. The public education agency has the primary responsibility to organize, initiate, and conduct these meetings.
The first IEP contains suitable measurable goals based on age-appropriate transition assessments related to training, education, employment, and, if appropriate, independent living skills. Development of independent living skills is appropriate and necessary if they are required for the child to receive a FAPE.
Assistive technology must be considered for every child with an IEP. An assistive technology (AT) device is any item, piece of equipment, or product system, whether acquired commercially, off-the-shelf, modified, or customized, that is used to increase, maintain, or improve a person's functional capabilities. An assistive technology service is any service that helps an individual select, acquire, or learn to use an AT device. For children who need assistive technology to receive a FAPE, its continued use after transitioning out of high school is a critical component of success.
Transition services are described in the IEP regarding development and implementation of transition programs, including coordination of services with agencies involved in supporting the transition of a child with a disability to postsecondary activities and the transition services (including courses of study) needed. If the IEP team determines that services are not needed in one or more of the areas specified, the IEP must include a statement to that effect and the basis upon which the determination was made.
The term “transition services” means a coordinated set of activities for a child with a disability that:
- Is designed to be a results-oriented process, that is focused on improving the academic and functional achievement of the child with a disability to facilitate the child’s movement from school to post-school activities, including post-secondary education, vocational education, integrated employment (including supported employment), continuing and adult education, adult services, independent living, or community participation;
- Is based on the individual child’s needs, taking into account the child’s strengths, preferences, and interests; and
- Includes instruction, related services, community experiences, the development of employment and other post-school adult living objectives, and when appropriate, acquisition of daily living skills and functional vocational evaluation. [IDEA 2004, Section 300.43(a)].
Schools must provide a "Summary of Performance," not necessarily based on a re-evaluation, to children with IEPs upon graduation from secondary school with a regular diploma or due to exceeding the age for special education services. The summary includes information about the child’s academic achievement and functional performance. The summary provides specific, meaningful, and understandable information to the child, the child's family, and any agency, including postsecondary schools, which may provide services to the child upon transition.
A successful and meaningful transition process results from planning done by a comprehensive team which is driven by the child’s the dreams, desires, and abilities. A transition plan provides the basic structure for preparing an individual to live and work in the community as fully and independently as possible.
The Dept. of Education's IDEA Website allows you to examine the bill and other official documentation surrounding IDEA 2004, as well as keep track of any updates.
National Collaborative on Workforce and Disability provides information on employment and youth with disabilities.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission's Youth@Work website contains information explaining the different types of job discrimination that young workers may encounter and suggested strategies they can use to prevent, and if necessary, respond to such discrimination.
Wells Fargo Bank offers training with modules for youth and adults. A free copy of the CD can be requested by calling Wells Fargo at (866) 650-6228. It is also on the web if your computer will allow you to download the Macromedia Flash Player program.
The Funding Your Education: The 2012-13 Guide to Federal Student Aid has information about all the federal aid programs available for students planning to attend college. Page 6 of the guide has information specifically for students with intellectual disabilities. You'll find more information about federal student aid programs at www.studentaid.ed.gov. For information about scholarships please visit the Disability.gov list of scholarships.
The following articles cover updates to IDEA with explanations of how they have affected transition planning.
- IDEA 2004 Close Up: Transition Planning
- IDEA 2004: Improving Transition Planning and Results
- Transition Requirements in IDEA (PDF)