AT and Transition

AT and Transition fact sheet in Word format

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.

Other Resources:

Transition Law

The following articles cover updates to IDEA with explanations of how they have affected transition planning.

Transition Fact Sheet from Protection and Advocacy for People with Disabilities.
You can also visit the Protections and Advocacy website.

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.

Wright’s Law: Making the Transition from
School to Work or Future Education by Sue Whitney, Research Editor

Schools exist primarily to provide academic instruction, they must also address the transition needs of children with disabilities. Look at these issues separately, starting with these definitions, then we will move on to how you can use No Child Left Behind.

Transition Planning in High School

Transition Planning for Students with IEPs
The Greatschools website is devoted to providing parents the resources they need to get their kids the best education. This is a guide to help parents with children who need an Individualized Education Program.

FAAST Resources on Transition and Assistive Technology (PDF)
General Self-Help Resources To Promote Effective Transition Planning with Students with Disabilities under IDEIA of 2004 and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as Amended.

Protection and Advocacy Fact Sheet (P&A)
Fact sheet about school transition law so parents and schools can know obligations and options.

SC High School/High Tech
High School/High Tech (HS/HT) promotes technology-based careers and education for youth with disabilities. It creatively exposes students to a variety of technology-based career opportunities, encouraging them to achieve long-term success.

South Carolina HS/HT projects incorporate research-based design features that focus on what youth with disabilities can do to prepare for their future. This research is important because of the increasing pressure to invest public dollars in projects that show results and incorporate promising practices. A typical South Carolina HS/HT project includes:

  • Preparatory Experiences: Services conducted in environments where youth feel accepted and nurtured and include career assessment, opportunity awareness, and work-readiness skills.
  • Connecting Activities: Activities featuring in-project and post-project support designed to benefit each individual participant.
  • Work-based Experiences: Experiences which build on-the-job experiences.
  • Youth Leadership and Development: Activities that assist the young person to become self-sufficient and productive.

Youth Leadership Forum
The South Carolina Youth Leadership Forum (YLF) for young adults with disabilities is an annual career leadership program who have leadership potential in both their school and community. Young adults selected each summer to attend the YLF learn about disability history, community and academic resources, career options and resources that can help them face challenges that arise in becoming participating members of their communities. They take part in activities enabling them to network, learn from each other and build lasting friendships.

Vocational Rehabilitation
Vocational Rehabilitation is dedicated to helping those with disabilities about to graduate achieve a smooth transition from education to employment, with the same employment opportunities as people without disabilities.

If you’re eligible for VR services, VR will provide a counselor who will help you develop a plan to achieve successful employment. The plan will include helping you explore different career opportunities, giving you information about the work skills, abilities and training you need for a specific job, and arranging for you to use the nearest Vocational Rehabilitation Training Center during the summer before your senior year to strengthen your ability to meet work requirements.

Wisconsin Assistive Technology Initiative (WATI) Portfolios
The Teacher and Student Transition Portfolio is a two-portfolio system designed to help teachers assist students in developing a personally tailored portfolio of the student's transition information. Together, teachers and students begin preparing the student portfolio at age 14. This portfolio moves with the student year to year. The teacher houses the portfolio and adds information as it is developed. Upon graduation, the teacher wraps it up and gives it to the student for graduation to bring to their post school setting. The intent is for the student to use the portfolio as a framework for pursuing post secondary goals, adding materials under each category as needed.

Transition to College

Prospective college students with disabilities now have countless resources available to make their transition to postsecondary education less stressful. Specific information and resources on a variety of different disabilities and information about your legal rights on campus are can be found at Support, Advocacy and Assistive Technology to Facilitate the Transition to Higher Education.

Find information about federal student aid programs at Federal Student Aid.

Tech Preparation: New Challenges and Opportunities for College-bound Teens with LD and/or AD/HD
This guide is targeted at the special considerations parents should give to children who have learning disabilities and are heading to college.

Teens with Learning Disabilities (LD) and/or
Attention Deficit/Hyper Activity Disorder (AD/HD): Shopping for College Options

Another article offering advice on what to look for in a future college for a child with learning disabilities.

College planning for Students with Learning Issues offeres specific lifestyle considerations for a child with learning disabilities when transitioning to college.

A Practical Guide for Students with Disabilities Who Want to Go to College
This guide has information about finding the right school, paying for college, and locating supports relating to your disability while at school. Includes information about things to keep in mind after college and where you can get help finding a job.

The NIDRR-funded Great Lakes and Southwest ADA National Network Centers offer Quality Indicators for Assistive Technology (AT) in Post-Secondary Education (QIAT-PS), interactive tools to help improve service delivery and use of AT in college and university settings. The Campus Self-Evaluation Matrix measures the effectiveness of AT delivery within an institution. The Student Self-Evaluation Matrix is intended to measure and improve AT transfer to higher education settings. provides guides that include an outline of student rights, strategies for success, a listing of assistive technologies, and a curated list of scholarships.

SC College Programs for Students with Intellectual and Other Disabilities

CarolinaLIFE™ Program, USC
CarolinaLIFE is a two-year post-secondary program for students with intellectual or cognitive disabilities. It offers students with intellectual or cognitive disabilities the opportunity to experience college life through inclusive participation in academic, social, vocational and independent living activities.

Coastal Carolina University LIFE™ Program
The University LIFE™ Program is a four year post-secondary education program for students with intellectual disabilities. The LIFE Program is designed to promote a smooth and effective transition from secondary schools to a four-year higher education institution, as well as provide post-secondary opportunities on a college campus. The program will allow students with intellectual disabilities the educational and social development opportunity to address four key primary areas: (1) academic enrichment, (2) socialization, (3) independent living skills, and (4) competitive or supported employment.

ClemsonLIFE™ Program
The ClemsonLIFE™ Program at Clemson University is designed for students with intellectual disabilities who desire a postsecondary experience on a college campus. The mission of the program is to provide a coordinated course of study that includes career exploration and preparation along with self-awareness, discovery, and personal improvement through a framework of courses, job internships, and community participation.

College of Charleston R.E.A.C.H. Program
(formerly called LIFE*)
The R.E.A.C.H. (Realizing Educational and Career Hopes) program at the College of Charleston is a four-year inclusive program for students with mild to moderate intellectual disabilities.  The purpose of the program is to provide the opportunity for all students to realize their intellectual and personal potential, and to become responsible, productive members of society.  REACH students will participate in the academic, residential, social, and cultural experiences offered by the College, with appropriate support for success.

Winthrop Think College Program
The Winthrop Think College (WTC) Program offers post-secondary education opportunities for students with intellectual disabilities (ID). The program creates customized schedules for each student using a person-centered planning approach. The schedules include traditional courses, internships, and specialty courses to support student development of specific skill sets. The focus of the WTC is to build and strengthen skills in the areas of employment, self-determination, health and nutrition, social networking, and independent living.

Transition to Work

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.

Transition to Work: Helping Teens Prepare for Typical Employer Questions
Offers considerations for when a child wants to work, such as concepts of self and whether to disclose learning disabilities to an employer.

Getting a job, getting a life: The workplace and young people with LD artice with advice on moving from school to the workplace, with lessons from adults with LD who successfully transitioned.

The Job Seeker’s Toolkit
A service provided by the American Foundation for the Blind to help the blind and visually impaired develop job skills. The course covers self awareness, career exploration tools, the preliminary employment process, the interview, and maintaining employment.

A new self-directed Employment Assistant that is geared for young adults with disabilities seeking to enter the workforce.

Transition for Youth with Disabilities
Employment, Housing, Post Secondary, Rehabilitation Services and Technical Assistance

Transition for Individuals with Autism

Autism Speaks Transition Toolkit
Resources for adolescents with autism and their families to navigate the transition into adulthood. Highlights various issues such as employment, post-secondary education, and housing, and options to consider in each of the areas, as well as links to helpful resources.

Personal Financial Management

Transition to Personal Financial Management
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.

Transition of Personal Care

The National Health Care Transition Center Launches New Website
Tips and tools for navigating towards the care and services needed in adulthood. Families can anticipate and plan to support their youth’s independence. Pediatric and adult primary care and specialty care teams can assess transition needs and support a seamless and coordinated transfer to adult care.

Making the Move to Managing Your Own Personal Assistance Services (PAS):
A Toolkit for Youth with Disabilities Transitioning to Adulthood

The National Collaborative on Workforce and Disability provides a downloadable guide to help young people entering adulthood in managing their long-term supports.

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