Transition to Adult Life

Under federal law, “transition” services means a coordinated set of activities for a student, designed within a results-oriented process, that promotes 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.

Transition must be based on the student’s needs, taking into account his/her strengths, preferences, and interests. It 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.

For students eligible for special education services, the law requires schools to take specific actions describing annual transition goals and to detail the services and supports needed to meet those goals. By the time student is 14, the IEP must reflect the student’s post-school goals in a “statement of transitions service needs.” When the student turns 16, the IEP must also include a “statement of needed transition services.” This describes the coordinated set of activities and strategies that will lead to the desired post-school outcomes and identifies those responsible for providing them.

Taken together, these two steps help ensure that a student is able to achieve long-term goals and is effectively linked to supports, services and programs needed for adult life.

The attorneys of Hinkle, Fingles & Prior can advise you and your family regarding your child’s specific rights and procedural protections regarding appropriate special education transition services.

Higher Education for Students with Disabilities

For students preparing for college or other post-secondary education options, individual rights and procedural protections are quite different from those available to them in their local high schools.

While school districts must provide a free appropriate public education (FAPE) to all of their students who have been identified as having a disability that impacts their ability to be educated — provided under IDEA — those protections do not transfer to college and beyond.

Students with disabilities in post-secondary education settings are entitled to accommodations designed to “level the playing field.” These institutions must provide appropriate accommodations to ensure they are not discriminating based on a student’s disability. Post-secondary institutions and higher education entrance testing services (ETS, GRE, LSAT) have certain obligations under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and the American’s with Disabilities Act to provide reasonable accommodations for students with disabilities. Accommodations may include extra time on tests, a reader, large print or digital textbooks, note takers and other supports. It’s important to note that the individual student is responsible for making requests for these accommodations to appropriate offices within the institution, and it is appropriate to consider this “self-advocacy” as a needed skill during transition planning in high school.

The attorneys at Hinkle, Fingles & Prior can provide advice regarding these accommodations and specialized legal representation in securing them when necessary.