- What is Transition
- Key Concepts
- Assistive Technology for Transition
- Accessible Reading Services
- Keywords for Searching Online
Transition is a term used in the special education field to describe the process a student with disabilities undergoes to move to from one educational setting to another (e.g. middle school to high school or high-school to a higher education institution), or to leave the educational system entirely and prepare for independent living and enter the work force.
Transition planning is important because each new stage in the process represents unique challenges for the students and those who support them. There are many aspects to successful transition planning. This reference guide will address some of the key concepts related to transition and provide additional resources for those with an interest in the topic. While this resource is meant to be as inclusive as possible, it is not comprehensive and should not be used as the sole resource for those interested in the subject.
This document begins by listing the common terms used in the transition field. It will then discuss transition programs and assistive technology students can use to help with transitions. It will also discuss legislation relating to transition. Because access to reading material is important for independent living, accessible reading services are listed as well. Finally, it concludes with resources and a bibliography. All topics within each section are listed in alphabetical order.
If we have omitted anything from this publication that you believe should be included, please contact the NLS Reference Section at: [email protected] or (202) 707-9275.
The Expanded Core Curriculum teaches a set of skills that complement the skills that students with visual impairments learn in school. These skills are necessary for students to be more successful, self-reliant adults. Skills include orientation and mobility instruction, , career education, personal finance and budgeting, social interaction, independent living.
The Individualized Education Plan (IEP) is mandated by law for all public schools who serve students with disabilities. They are plans, drafted by a team, which are customized to suit the unique needs of each student. IEPs are drafted by teachers, school administrators, and, in some cases, the students themselves. IEPs spell out the educational goals for the students, milestones for meeting those goals, the responsibilities of members of their IEP team, and any resources they may need, such as assistive technology.
The IEP team sets the goals and parameters for the student’s IEP. Included in the IEP team are the parents of the student, the student’s special education instructor (if applicable), the student’s traditional education instruction (if applicable), a member of the school system who has the authorization to make financial commitments for the student’s IEP needs, an individual with special knowledge of the student, and in some cases the students themselves.
Independent living is a general term referring to one’s ability to perform daily tasks without assistance such as: financial management, cooking, cleaning, and recreation.
O & M instruction is the practice of teaching an individual with a visual disability ways to independently navigate their environment. Instructors teach their students to use a cane, find destinations, cross a street, and apply problem solving while navigating.
PFP is the concept of tailoring the transition planning process to meet the unique, individual needs of the student. Planning involves the key people in the student’s life, and considers the student’s career goals, strengths, available resources, and attempts to identify potential obstacles. Plans take into consideration on the student’s abilities, asking what they “can do” and not stating what they “can’t do.” Instead of written reports, PFP encourages regularly scheduled discussions with the student’s transition team. In addition, assessments are not standardized and are likewise tailored to the specific needs of the student.
Vocational assessments are used by the transition team to identify the needs, strengths, and interests of the student. These assessments are used to plan educational and vocational opportunities (such as internships) that will prepare the student for life outside of school.
Vocational rehabilitation is a service where participants are individually instructed in how to be successful members of the workforce. Individuals are paired with a specialist who determines their unique needs and makes recommendations.
Listed below are programs designed to assist students and their families with the transition process. The programs listed below are available on-campus, online, and via correspondence modes of learning. There is a link to the program below the each paragraph. Further contact information for the institution hosting the program is located in the directory section of this reference guide.
The Carroll Center for the Blind is a residential vocational rehabilitation center that offers independent living skills courses for people with visual impairments. Specific programs include assistive technology training, orientation and mobility instruction, employment training, senior services, and recreation.
The Center for the Visually Impaired teaches braille literacy, braille music, and Nemeth (braille math) code. The Center’s programs include employment opportunities, assistive technology instruction for youth and adults, travel and mobility training, early intervention programs for children. The center also offers instruction in the classroom environment through its Social, Therapeutic, Academic, and Recreational Services (STARS) program and a summer camp, support groups for adults and children, and has a retail store on the premises selling material of interest to people with visual impairments and their families.
The Colorado Center for the Blind maintains multiple programs to teach students with visual disabilities how to live independent lives. The center has a summer youth program where, while housed in apartments, students learn basic independent-living skills. Learning activities include: travel, personal finance, leadership, career exploration, and using assistive technology.
The Envision Rehabilitation Center provides vocational rehabilitation services and job placement and employment assistance to people with visual disabilities. In addition, they offer assistive technology products and instruction on how to use them as well as training in independent living skills and orientation and mobility. The Center provides recreational programs, including camps for children and teens. They provide early intervention assistance for children and support groups for parents. They also coordinate training opportunities for paraprofessionals who work with people with visual disabilities.
A program from the Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired, the EXIT program is for students, ages 18 to 22, who have just completed high school. The program incorporates the Expanded Core Curriculum and also focuses on the individual transition needs of the student.
A program that pairs participants with a mentor to experience life outside of school and to learn about different career paths.
The Hadley Institute for the Blind (formerly the Hadley School for the Blind) is a distance education institution. The institute provides programs on topics that pertain to transition such as braille literacy and independent living, orientation and mobility, socializing and dining, managing personal finances, and personal care.
The Perkins School for the Blind’s PEP program is to help students with visual impairments acquire job skills specific to their chosen career path. The program uses hiring professionals and disability specialists from around the greater Boston area to teach students job interview skills, and how to disclose their disability to potential employers.
A program of BLIND Inc., the Star Program is a summer program for adolescents with visual disabilities between the ages 14 and 21. The program teaches students independent living skills such as cooking, shopping, and managing finances. Participants also have the opportunity to learn what it is like to prepare for college by visiting local campuses and meeting with blind college students. In addition, students learn how to enter the workforce by drafting résumés, participating in mock interviews, and advocating for workplace accommodations.
A program from the Louisiana Center for the Blind, the STEP program is an eight-week summer program where teenagers with visual disabilities work fifteen to twenty hours a week at a local business near the center. The goal is for participants to learn skills necessary to participate in the workforce while also giving them job experience they can place on their résumés.
Ticket to work is a program from the Social Security Administration that matches participating employers with job seekers with disabilities. The program provides career counseling, vocational rehabilitation, and training.
The ADA is one of the most expansive civil rights laws in the country. It prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in employment, government programs, public facilities, private facilities, transportation services, and telecommunication services. Under the ADA, it is unlawful for educational institutions and employers to discriminate, or restrict services for, people with disabilities.
The Assistive Technology Act awards federal grant money to the states to provide assistive technology to their residents throughout the course of their lifetimes. This is usually done in the form of loans of assistive technology products to the individuals. In addition, these programs may also provide financial assistance to individuals seeking to purchase assistive technology. A listing of Assistive Technology Act Programs is available from the following link: http://www.atconnects.com/at-act-programs/state-at-act-programs.
For more information on assistive technology, please refer to the Assistive Technology for Transition section of this publication.
The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) ensures that children with documented disabilities are entitled to educational opportunities in public schools throughout the U.S. without creating an additional financial burden on their parents or guardians.
IDEA 2004 has six main principles:
- Free and Appropriate Education: Students with disabilities are entitled to a free and public education that fits their needs.
- Least Restrictive Environment: Students with disabilities are educated with peers without disabilities as much as possible.
- Comprehensive Evaluation: The formal documentation process used to determine the scope of the student’s special education needs.
- Individualized Education Program (IEP): this plan is developed by members of an educational team based on the results of the comprehensive evaluation.
- Parents’ and Students’ Input into Educational Decisions: This ensures that the parents and students are able to fully participate in the educational planning for the student.
- Procedural Safeguards: These are safeguards established by the student’s school district, or other similar entity, in order to enforce the student’s educational rights.
Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act (herein referred to as Section 504) is a federal law to protect the rights of people with disabilities in the public education system. Any educational program receiving funding from the Department of Education, must comply with Section 504. Such institutions include public school systems and higher educational institutions.
For more information on Section 504, please visit the Department of Education’s website: www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/504faq.html
Assistive technology is technology designed for people with disabilities to help them perform tasks they would otherwise be unable to perform because of their disability. Examples of assistive technology include screen readers that allow people who are blind to access to the information on a computer screen, text-to-speech devices that are able to take the text from a page and render it back into speech for a user, and products such as hearing aids.
Listed below are some examples of assistive technology that may aid students with disabilities.
In addition to what is listed below, the Reference Section of the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped has compiled a listing of assistive technology products, which may be viewed from the following link: www.loc.gov/nls/reference/guides/assistive.html.
Audio players allow users to record material to take notes, download audiobooks or podcasts, and convert text to speech. There are currently several types of audio players on the market which are designed for use by people with disabilities. The NLS Reference publication Digital Audiobook Players lists the available devices at www.loc.gov/nls/reference/guides/audiobkplayers.html.
Braille notetakers are portable devices that allow users to interface with information via a refreshable braille display. Many of the braille displays and notetakers on the market allow users to navigate the Internet, draft word processing documents, and download documents and books written in braille. This NLS Reference guide lists available braille notetakers: www.loc.gov/nls/reference/guides/brailledisplays.html
Magnifying devices are used to enlarge text. These devices can be used to magnify the text on textbook, class handouts, or other coursework. In many cases, these devices are portable and come with an adjustable arm that may be used to magnify the image of text on display from across a room (such as during a presentation). This NLS Reference guide lists available magnifying devices: www.loc.gov/nls/reference/guides/magnifying.html
Screen readers take the information that is on a computer screen or mobile device and convert it to speech for the user. Screen readers also allow the users to interact with the links, buttons, and other controls on the screen. Common screen readers include: Job Access With Speech (JAWS), Non-Visual Desktop Access (NVDA), Voiceover, and Window Eyes.
Text-to-speech devices will convert printed materials into audible speech. These devices may be used by people with a visual or reading disability. These devices may be provided as hardware solutions like stand-alone scanners or as software solutions. Some of them allow for users to follow along with text as it is read to them by highlighting the words on a computer screen.
When transitioning from school to independent life, or to higher education, access to reading materials is essential. Students in college will need to know where to obtain accessible textbooks for classes and independent adults will want to know how to continue to be well-informed members of society. Listed below are resources for accessible reading materials for people with print disabilities. They include resources for textbooks, pleasure reading, newspapers and magazines. Additional contact information can be found in the directory section of this publication.
The AccessText Network is a partnership between publishers of educational materials and educational institutions. Publishers offer their materials through the network in accessible formats for students with disabilities which are shared through the student’s college or university. A student with a qualifying disability approaches the disability services coordinator in their educational institution to request a book in accessible format. That coordinator has login credentials to the AccessText Network and is able to download the item in a format that the student can read.
Bookshare collects the digital files provided to them by publishers and makes these files available to their members in accessible formats. Eligible users then download the files and read the material on their computers, through a digital audiobook player, or via Bookshare’s mobile app. Bookshare’s material is offered in audio format via synthetic speech and is free for students.
The HathiTrust is a partnership of more than a dozen member research libraries that scan their collections to make them available over the Internet. Full texts of materials in the public domain are available. The HathiTrust recently partnered with the National Federation of the Blind (NFB) to make their collection accessible to people with print disabilities.
IAAIS is a volunteer-driven membership organization of services that uses volunteers to record materials for people with print disabilities. They primarily record information from newspapers and other periodicals. Their recordings are transmitted on a secure FM signal that is able to be received by a user with an authorized device.
Learning Ally offers their members reading material in both synthesized and human speech. While Learning Ally does offer material for pleasure listening, they are also a primary source for access to instructional materials, such as textbooks. Materials can be accessed via a mobile app, through a computer, or on an audiobook player.
NLS is a free library service from the Library of Congress for people unable to read standard print or use printed materials because of a physical disability. Service is provided to eligible U.S. residents and American citizens living abroad by their local cooperating library. Free braille and talking books and magazines are available. Hundreds of thousands of popular books are offered: including best sellers, classics, historical fiction, mysteries, romances, westerns, and many others. NLS uses human voice actors to record some talking books. Books are delivered by mail, download, and mobile app for iOS and Android devices. Digital talking-book players—with high-quality sound and easy navigation—are loaned free.
NFB-NEWSLINE provides its subscribers access more than 300 newspapers and magazines from a touchtone phone, computer, portable digital audiobook player, or mobile app.
Listed below are additional resources on the subject of transition. They include organizations who work with students with disabilities, support groups for parents and students, and web guides with information.
The ACVREP certifies professionals who provide services to people with visual disabilities. These professions include: Orientation and mobility instructors, assistive technology training specialists, low-vision specialists, and rehabilitation training specialists. Their website allows users to search for certified professionals in one of the aforementioned fields.
The AFB maintains an extensive website of articles, research document and resources for people with visual impairments. They publish books and magazines of interest to people with visual disabilities, their families, and those that work with them. The AFB has published several online resources on the subject of transition. Including:
The Expanded Core Curriculum for Blind and Visually Impaired Children and Youths: www.afb.org/info/programs-and-services/professional-development/teachers/expanded-core-curriculum/the-expanded-core-curriculum/12345
Transition Happens, Ready or Not!: http://www.afb.org/info/living-with-vision-loss/for-job-seekers/for-family-and-friends/transition/1235
APH creates educational and independent living products for people with visual disabilities of all ages. They have guides and product recommendations for the user’s specific age group or situation.
AER is a professional association of educators of students with visual disabilities. The organization maintains a listing of recommended degree programs for orientation and mobility instructors, vision rehabilitation instructors, and teachers of the visually impaired. AER offers continuing educational opportunities for educators such as conferences and online courses.
A resource from BestColleges.com, this guide offers advice and resources for students with disabilities to use as they prepare to enter the work force post-graduation. It provides strategies students with disabilities can use when seeking employment; defines several of the challenges people face when searching for jobs; and offers resources to be used in the job search process.
The Center for Parent Information and Resources is a central repository for people who offer resources for people with disabilities and their families and educators. Their mission is to be a resource for the network of Parent Technical Assistance Centers, a network of advocacy and training centers who serve parents of children with disabilities in each state. Their website includes archived webinars, guides, a curated listing of websites, and other topical information.
College Resources for Students with Disabilities is a resource from Affordable Colleges Online. It lists several of the disabilities that require accommodations and also lists suggestions for assistive technology solutions.
This collection of resources from the Center for Online Education is meant to aid high school students with visual impairments as they move on to post-secondary education. The resource gives details on scholarship opportunities, campus services, pertinent legislation, and information on assistive technologies.
This guide, from the Center for Online Education, provides an overview of what students with disabilities should be aware of when searching for and enrolling in an higher education institution. It provides an overview of the legal rights for the students, disability services offered by colleges, advice on how to make the transition to a college setting, and offers several assistive technology solutions for college students.
This guide, from AccreditedOnlineColleges.org, is meant to assist students with disabilities who are considering attending an online higher education institution. It advises students on the process of selecting a school that will meet their needs. It addition, it provides background information on their legal rights when applying for and attending school. It also provides information on potential scholarships for students with disabilities.
This resource from the U.S. Department of Education describes the process of establishing and working with a student’s IEP. It is a step-by-step guide describing what the IEP is, how it is written, who is involved, and how it is implemented for the student.
This resource explains on-campus tools available to students with visual disabilities. It also describes scholarships for students and provides access to other online resources. It describes in detail different visual acuities and what assistive technologies could be used for each. It provides insight into the college search process with special considerations for the students with visual impairments.
The IRIS Center is funded by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP). IRIS provides resources on best practices for educators who work with children with disabilities.
The National Center on Accessible Materials writes standards and provides resources for educators and employers who are required to make their learning resources accessible to people with disabilities.
The NDPC–SD provides technical assistance to help states develop dropout prevention programs for students with disabilities. In addition, the center researches the causes of why students with disabilities prematurely leave school.
The NFB maintains a resources page that includes resources for learning and working. Resources listed include assistive technology, adapted appliances, and braille literacy programs.
A division of the NFB, NOPBC is a membership organization of parents of children who have visual disabilities. The organization seeks to provide support and resources for parents throughout their child’s adolescence.
Funded by the U.S. Department of Education, NTACT assists local education departments and vocational rehabilitation educators with implementing effective transition programs for students with disabilities.
The National VR Transition Network provides a forum for transition practitioners to connect with and learn from one another. They host monthly conference calls and maintaining an email list where practitioners can post resources, questions, and ideas.
By offering federal grant funding, OSERS supports the efforts of state and local municipalities to meet the needs of students with disabilities. It has two main components, the Office of Special Education Programs and the Rehabilitation Services Administration.
This resource from the Perkins School for the Blind includes detailed explanations of transition concepts and offers tools such as assessment templates, as well as independent living activities for parents to use to prepare their children for life on their own.
A resource provided by the U.S. Department of Education, the Tool Kit offer the latest resources and research to aid educators in assessing the educational progress of students with disabilities.
Transition Resources A–Z
A listing of resources compiled by the Association on Higher Education and Disability
Transition Services is a multiple chapter resource guide from the National Association of Special Education Teachers. It describes the transition process and has detailed sections covering what educators should do when implementing a transition plan for their students. It covers the basic topics, such as the IEP, while also providing guidance on less discussed topics such as social and sexual issues in the transition plan.
U.S. Department of Education
Ideas that Work Page
The Ideas that work page is designed to help facilitate access to information on and from programs supported by the U.S. Department of Education Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP). The website has a listing of resources for students, parents, and others with an interest in the education of students with disabilities.
Office of Civil Rights (OCR)
The OCR’s mission is to enforce anti-discrimination laws in institutions receiving federal funding from the Department of Education. They enforce legislation by reviewing the institutions and collecting complaints from one of their twelve offices throughout the U.S.
Office of Special Education Programs’ (OSEP’s) IDEA website
A website that is designed to be a one-stop resource for people with an interest in the IDEA Act and special education for students with disabilities.
Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS)
OSERS works to support educational programs in the U.S. for students with disabilities to help them achieve their educational goals and become productive members of society.
The Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice enforces the nation’s civil rights laws. The Disability Rights Section works to implement the provisions of the ADA. Through enforcement, certification, as well as mediation, the Section works to ensure that entities remain compliant with the ADA. Interested parties can call the Section with ADA questions.
Here are several terms you may want to consider using when researching transitions online:
College students with disabilities
Independent living skills for the blind
Orientation and mobility
Post-secondary transition for students with disabilities
Students with disabilities—Life skills guides
Students with visual disabilities—Life Skills
People with visual disabilities—Education (Higher)—United States
Transition to college
Academy for Certification of Vision Rehabilitation & Education Professionals (ACVREP)
4732 N. Oracle Rd., Ste. #217
Tucson, AZ 85705
(520) 887-6826 fax
PO Box 961
Seattle, WA 98101
Affordable Colleges Online
Association for Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired
1703 N Beauregard St., Ste. 440
Alexandria, VA 22311-1744 USA
Center for the Visually Impaired
739 West Peachtree St. NW
Atlanta, GA 30308
National Dropout Prevention Center for Students with Disabilities
209 Martin St.
Clemson, SC 29631-1555
866-212-2775 toll-free TDD
(864) 656-0136 fax
National Library Services for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS)
1291 Taylor St. NW
Washington, DC 20542
Social Security Administration
Office of Public Inquiries
1100 West High Rise
6401 Security Blvd.
Baltimore, MD 21235
800-325-0778 toll-free TTY
Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired
1100 W 45th St.
Austin, TX 78756
(512) 206-9453 fax
U.S. Department of Education, Office of Civil Rights (OCR)
Lyndon Baines Johnson Department of Education Bldg.
400 Maryland Ave. SW
Washington, DC 20202-1100
800-877-8339 toll-free TDD
U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services
400 Maryland Ave. SW
Washington, DC 20202
U.S. Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Ave. NW
Civil Rights Division
Disability Rights Section–NYA
Washington, DC 20530
800-514-0383 toll-free TTY
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Duffy, M.A. (2016). Making life more livable: Simple adaptations for living at home after vision loss. New York: AFB Press.
Ellen T. (2nd ed.)(2016). College bound: a guide for students with visual impairments. New York: AFB Press.
Expanded Core Curriculum: Resources for you from AFB Press. (n.d.) American Foundation for the Blind. Retrieved from www.afb.org/info/programs-and-services/professional-development/teachers/expanded-core-curriculum/ecc-resources/12345 .
Getting ready for when your teen reaches the Age of Majority: a parent’s guide. (2015, October). Center for Parent Information and Resources. Retrieved from www.parentcenterhub.org/repository/age-of-majority-parentguide/ .
Helping students with visual impairments: Resources, tools and technology to foster school success. Accredited Schools Online. Retrieved from www.accreditedschoolsonline.org/resources/helping-students-with-visual-impairments/ .
Kauffman, J. M., & Hallahan, D. P. (2011). Handbook of special education. New York: Routledge.
Page A. et al. (2016). O&M for independent living: Strategies for teaching orientation and mobility to older adults. New York: AFB Press.
Parental rights under IDEA. (2014, January). Center for Parent Information and Resources. Retrieved from www.parentcenterhub.org/repository/parental-rights/ .
Sacks, S.Z. (ed.) & Zatta, M.C. (ed.) (2016). Keys to educational success: Teaching students with visual impairments and multiple disabilities. New York: AFB Press.
Sitlington, P.L. (2007). Assess for success: A practitioner’s handbook on transition assessment. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.
Compiled by Christopher Corrigan