Transitioning Youth

Transition Planning —the development of a formal transition plan in high school that includes the need for continued therapy, if appropriate; career goals and educational needs; academic counseling (including discussion about requirements for admission to post-secondary schools); career counseling; opportunities for work experience; housing; and community networking.

Secondary school personnel can assist the student in transition by

  • including students and parents in planning,
  • being sensitive to culture and values of the student and family,
  • educating students about their rights and helping them develop self-advocacy skills,
  • helping the student and family in the selection of appropriate post-secondary school and vocational settings and assisting with application processes,
  • informing students and families about services in post-secondary settings (e.g., disability support services and academic counseling),
  • providing current documentation needed to access services (including academic accommodations) in a post-secondary setting,
  • informing students and families about vocational support services,
  • helping students identify the need for supports and any accommodations and assistive technologies in academic and vocational settings.

Based on recommendations of the National Joint Committee on Learning Disabilities (ASHA, 1994).

    Transition Goals—goals for successful transitioning to post-secondary school or employment that can include preparing a résumé, completing a job or college application, effectively presenting skills and limitations during an interview, expressing concerns to authority figures about academic or job performance, and stating or restating a position to effectively self-advocate in academic and employment settings.

    Disability Support Services—individualized support for post-secondary students that may include accommodations, such as extended time for tests, the use of assistive technology (e.g., to help with reading and writing tasks), accommodations for oral speaking assignments, and methods and devices to augment oral communication, if necessary.

    Vocational Support Services—services that include testing to identify vocational strengths, career counseling, vocational training, job search assistance, and and on-the-job supports such as job coaching and reasonable workplace accommodations.

    Housing—services that support transition from the family home to semi-independent or independent living environment; includes continued collaboration between individual, family members, and others (e.g., residential staff, case manager, speech-language pathologist, and job coaches).

    Community Integration—services that provide opportunities for social involvement and the development of friendships, with peer mentoring as appropriate.  

    The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act—laws that provide protections for students with disabilities transitioning to post-secondary education and work settings to ensure that programs and employment environments are accessible and to provide aids and services necessary for effective communication in these settings.


    U.S. Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights. Transition of Students With Disabilities to Postsecondary Education: A Guide for High School Educators

    U.S. Department of Education. Protecting Students With Disabilities

    National Parent Center on Transition and Employment

    Section 504: Eligibility and Employment Provisions

    Fact Sheet: Your Rights Under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act


    American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. (1994). Secondary to postsecondary education transition planning for students with learning disabilities [Relevant Paper]. Available from

    ASHA Corporate Partners