Chapter 17 - Transition Services

A. RSB’s Mission in Transition Services: Rehabilitation Services for the Blind (RSB) plays a key role in the transition process for students with disabilities who are still in the secondary school setting.  RSB’s role is important in the overall transition process because as a Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) provider it is often able to continue to provide necessary supports and services after the student graduates or exits the secondary school setting.  This involvement prevents delays or gaps in the student’s movement from school to post-secondary education, training, or employment.

Successful transition planning for students with disabilities involves looking ahead, into the student’s future, preparing not just for graduation but for life after graduation. One of the most important aspects of a student’s future involves employment; however, students often do not have any idea what type of work they would like to do, or what type of career options are available. It is imperative that students learn about different careers and employment prior to graduation or exit from school, both to provide direct exposure to and hands-on exploration of a variety of careers as well as assisting them in defining vocational choices and setting employment goals that actually seem attainable.

RSB’s mission in transition is to provide students with the opportunities, training and supports necessary to prepare them for life after their secondary school experience, whether that involves employment, post-secondary education, technical training or independent living.  By providing these services, it is expected that these students will be better prepared and more successful in their post-secondary education, employment and in society. 

B. Transition Is...: Transition is an all-inclusive process that focuses on improving a student’s employment outcomes, housing options, and social networks after leaving school. The transition planning process focuses on the unique needs and goals of the student. The transition plan, documented in the Individualized Education Program (IEP), Individualized Plan for Employment (IPE) and Independent Living Plan (ILP), provides the framework for identifying, planning, and carrying out activities that will help each student make a successful transition to adult life. It identifies the types of skills to be learned, which transition services will be needed, and when they will be provided. It also documents those responsible for providing related transition services. Transition planning involves a team of people drawn from different parts of the student’s life such as family, school personnel, and community and agency personnel who are or may be involved with the student. If students have the knowledge, skills, services, and supports to deal effectively with the various demands of adulthood, it is more likely they will succeed in adult life.

  1. Legislative Foundation:

    1. IDEA (as amended in 2004): Transition is defined in the IDEA (2004, section 300.29) as:

      .....a coordinated set of activities for a student with disabilities that is designed within an outcome-oriented process, which promotes movement from school to post-school activities, including post-secondary education, vocational training, integrated employment (including supported employment), continuing and adult education, adult services, independent living, and/or community participation.

    1. IDEA further states that transition services are based upon the following:

    The individual student’s needs, taking into account the student’s preferences and interests; and includes instruction, related services, community experiences, the development of employment and other post-school adult living objectives, and if appropriate, the acquisition of daily living skills and functional evaluation.

    1. Rehabilitation Act: (as amended in 1998): Under Title 1 of the Rehabilitation Act 1998 Amendments any student with a disability who receives special education services or who is enrolled in regular classes, and who may need Vocational Rehabilitation services to prepare for, obtain or maintain employment may be referred to Vocational Rehabilitation.  Students with disabilities are eligible for VR services if they meet the following criteria:

      Student has a physical, learning, or mental impairment;

      • which substantially limits their ability to be employed;
      • andthe student requires VR services to prepare for, obtain, or maintain employment 361.5(b)(55), Sec.6(37)

C. Vocational Rehabilitation Overview:

Local school districts are responsible for providing transition services to students with disabilities who are still in the secondary school system. However, RSB may also provide VR transition services that involve planning and preparing for the student’s vocational future after he/she exits school. Quality transition planning, therefore, involves local school districts working collaboratively with vocational rehabilitation to provide a continuum of services for students with disabilities. In an effort to minimize gaps and delays from school to post-school activities, vocational rehabilitation’s role in the transition planning process focuses on:

In response to the need for developing a coordinated services system that links students to vocational rehabilitation prior to graduation from school, the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, Divisions of Vocational Rehabilitation, Special Education, and Vocational and Adult Education prepared a "Joint Memorandum of Understanding". This memorandum, and the following "Cooperative Work Experience Program Agreement" which included Missouri Rehabilitation Services for the Blind, outlined the general parameters in which vocational rehabilitation agencies may be able to participate in the transition planning process for students with disabilities who are still in school.

As stated in the Rehabilitation Act, Vocational Rehabilitation is a program operated with federal and state funds, designed to assist persons with a physical or mental impairment to become employed. In Missouri, the following two agencies provide VR services:

The Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR) operated by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. DVR provides services to persons [students] with all types of physical or mental impairments (except visual disabilities).

Rehabilitation Services for the Blind (RSB) operated by the Department of Social Services, Family Support Division. RSB provides services to students with visual disabilities (including those who have visual in addition to other disabilities)

  1. Referral Process

Appropriate referrals to RSB may include:

Referral does not automatically result in the individual’s eligibility for vocational rehabilitation services. Although students with disabilities are entitled to a free appropriate public education (FAPE), they must be determined eligible for VR services through an individualized assessment process. 

Referral does not automatically result in an application for VR services.  In some cases, the student may be served by RSB without opening a vocational rehabilitation case; in others it will be necessary to apply for vocational rehabilitation services.  The criteria used in determining whether a VR case must be opened are found in "(E) Services Prior to Application" and "(F) Application for " below. 

Referral to RSB’s VR program typically occur two or more years before the student graduates or exits the secondary school system. In some instances however, the student’s IEP may establish an earlier time for referral based upon the student’s individual transition needs. Students who may be able to benefit from VR services may be referred as early as age 14.   

Students with disabilities may be referred to RSB’s VR program by:

  1. Services Prior to Application

Once a referral has been made, some services may be provided by RSB without opening a VR case.  Those transition services which may be provided as early as middle/junior high school by the Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor/Children’s Specialist without opening a vocational rehabilitation case may include:

Consultation to Students and Families: General information is provided regarding the basic VR program, general eligibility guidelines, and services. This may also include information on employment/training opportunities, career exploration, and/or referral to other agencies. Consultation may be provided via the telephone, in person to a small group of students, or one-on-one with the student and/or family member(s); depending upon the individual needs of the student.

Technical Assistance To Schools: Specific information is provided regarding various aspects of the vocational rehabilitation program as it applies to students with disabilities served within the secondary school setting. This information may be personally presented during in-service training or more formal presentations at the school, or local career fairs. Technical assistance may also be provided via the telephone or through written information.

Participation in IEP meetings: This may also be a form of consultation. While VRCs will not be able to attend all IEP meetings, the VRC or Children’s Specialist will make a determination regarding participation based upon their schedule, the needs expressed by the school district, and the student’s individual needs. For student’s who are not yet determined eligible for services, the VRC will consider the student’s year in school, the student’s age, and the complexity of their disability.

Independent Living Rehabilitation Services/Children’s Services: The following services may be provided by RSB’s Independent Living or Children’s Services staff:

  1. Application for Vocational Rehabilitation

A student who has been referred to RSB who meets the following criteria should complete an application for vocational rehabilitation services (with parental consent for students under age 18).  If a student is over 14 years of age, and;

  1. Eligibility for Vocational Rehabilitation

The person from RSB who will work directly with the student in establishing VR eligibility is called the Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor (VRC). Eligibility for services will be established based upon the following:

It is important to remember that RSB’s eligibility standards are based upon the student’s vocational limitations as a result of their impairment, not just the existence of a physical, learning, or mental impairment alone. Therefore, a diagnosis of ocular albinism by itself, for example would not be enough to establish eligibility.

  1. Identification of an Employment Outcome and VR Services

Once eligibility has been determined, the VRC will schedule a meeting with the student and parent/guardian and, as appropriate, the school to discuss the student’s possible post-school outcomes or vocational plans.  It is at this time that VR transition planning and the determination of appropriate services are reviewed and discussed.

If the student and parent/family are not sure what type of employment or career options would be best, and together they are unable to identify a vocational goal through general career counseling and exploration, then the VRC may offer the student an opportunity to participate in a vocational evaluation, transition or supported employment assessment through a local Community Rehabilitation Program (CRP), Supported Employment Service Provider (SESP) or other entity.

In determining which type of evaluation or assessment might be most beneficial to the student, the VRC should review the student’s medical, psychological, and vocational/educational history.  Although the exact type of evaluation or assessment will need to be based upon the individual student’s interests and needs, informed choice, and the availability of services in the area, the following general types of evaluation may be considered:

  1. The Individualized Plan for Employment (IPE)

Once the student is determined eligible for VR services and an employment outcome has been identified; the student and VR counselor or RSB staff member will develop a plan outlining specific services needed for the student to reach their employment goal. This plan is called the "Individualized Plan for Employment" (IPE). (It should be noted that if the student is under the age of 18, his/her parent or guardian should be involved in developing this plan for services, and would be required to sign the plan as well.)

The IPE indicates the specific services to be provided, list service providers, and include any special services or assistance the student may require in order to successfully achieve their goal. In addition, the IPE is an outcome-oriented plan developed with the student, based upon their interests, abilities, and choices.

The student’s IPE and IEP should be coordinated to ensure a seamless transition from school-based services to post-school activities/services. Every attempt should be made by RSB to develop the IPE before the student graduates or exits from the secondary school setting.

  1. Services After Eligibility Determination

After the student has been determined eligible, transition services may be provided based upon the individual student’s needs and in accordance with RSB policy guidelines. While many of the services provided by RSB are considered to be "no-cost", RSB may also "purchase" services for eligible students with disabilities who are still in school.

Examples of "no-cost" services may include:

 Examples of "purchased services" may include:

Transition services which require RSB to authorize the expenditure of funds, are considered to be "purchased" services. The VRC should only purchase services when they are beyond the scope of the special education program or 504 guidelines and are required for the student to reach an employment outcome or participate in the VR program.  Both no-cost and purchased services may be provided at any time after the student has been determined eligible for the VR program.

  1. Purchasing Services

    1. Vocational Rehabilitation and the Purchase of Diagnostics
  2. The IEP team may consider providing updated testing/diagnostics as part of the transition planning process, especially when the student’s post-school outcome involves college or vocational training. 

    While it is clear that RSB can not purchase updated diagnostics/formalized testing for educational purposes or as a part of the re-evaluation process; if a student is referred to RSB, and the VRC determines that additional formalized testing is needed in order to establish eligibility or to determine appropriate nature and scope of services, RSB may purchase diagnostics.  The VRC is strongly encouraged to utilize existing medical records and testing information to establish a student’s eligibility for services and it should only be on a very rare occasion, based upon the individual situation that RSB would ever purchase updated testing.  Prior to purchasing any additional diagnostics for students with disabilities, the VRC is encouraged to review and discuss the student’s existing medical/educational records with their district office supervisor to determine if the purchase of additional testing is necessary.

    In an effort to save diagnostic costs, school districts and RSB are encouraged to partner closely with one another in the sharing and purchasing of diagnostic information for students during the transition planning process.  Schools and RSB district offices in Missouri may even split the costs of a diagnostic battery of tests, such as the school providing and purchasing the achievement testing (Woodcock Johnson, etc.) and RSB purchasing the McCarron-Dial comprehensive vocational evaluation battery of tests. 

    1. Vocational Evaluations and Supported Employment Assessments

      Two common types of transition services that RSB can provide for students with disabilities in the secondary school system are vocational evaluations and assessments and computer access evaluations and assessments.  These services are provided by RSB for students who need assistance in clarifying and/or identifying career, post-secondary education/training or employment options upon graduation.

      It should be noted that not all students need or want to participate in vocational evaluations and/or assessments.  Therefore, vocational evaluations and assessments should not be viewed as a “gate” that all students must pass through before accessing or receiving other RSB services.  For those students however, who have been determined eligible for RSB services, but do not have a clear understanding of the type of career/employment options that are available and have not been able to identify post-school outcomes that are in line with their interests, skills and abilities; vocational evaluations and assessments can play a major role in successful transition planning and identifying appropriate VR services. 

    2. Work Experiences During Transition

      One of the best ways that a student can learn about different careers and employment is to be exposed to and participate in work experiences prior to graduation or exit from school. Work experiences provide students with direct exposure to and hands-on exploration of a variety of careers; assisting them in defining vocational choices and setting employment goals that actually seem attainable.

      Work experiences also provide an opportunity to extend learning from the classroom into the community, utilizing the workplace as an active learning environment in which students can develop positive work attitudes, appropriate work behaviors, and an understanding of the concept of teamwork, in addition to learning job-specific skills. Through work experiences students are able to explore career interests, develop work skills based upon their strengths, and learn how to advocate for the supports and accommodations they need to be successful in a particular work environment or career.

      RSB will support work experiences, including job shadowing, job try-outs, vocational  mentoring and/or on-the-job training for transition students, paid or unpaid, subsidized or unsubsidized. RSB may provide these services in conjunction with the Cooperative Work Experience program (COOP) and local school district Work Experience Coordinator, or on an individual basis as fits the student’s identified needs and IPE goals. 

    3. Fiscal Responsibility for Transition Services

      When there is overlap of educational and rehabilitation goals and services, a cost sharing arrangement may be negotiated between RSB and the school district.  To know for sure who will pay for a service, the school district staff and the VRC must review the necessary services and determine whether the purpose of those services is educational or vocational in nature. The following are general guidelines to help understand how decisions can be made. These guidelines are NOT absolutes since individual situations are different from student to student.

      Test 1 - Will the service help to achieve educational goals found in the IEP? If the answer is yes, the school is primarily responsible for the service.

      Test 2 - Will the service help to achieve the employment goal found in the IPE? If the answer is yes, RSB is primarily responsible for the service.

      Test 3 - If the same service appears on both the IEP and IPE, and the service can help to achieve both educational and vocational goals, the school and RSB are responsible for negotiating a cost sharing arrangement.

  3. Services After Graduation/Exit from School

Once the student exits the secondary school setting, the VRC becomes even more directly involved with the student, and becomes the primary coordinator/provider of services. It is at this time that the VRC takes the lead role in helping the student reach successful employment. The VRC will work closely with the student to search career options and will provide guidance and counseling in the areas of disability awareness, accommodations, and self-advocacy.

Once the student exits the secondary school setting, RSB may also be able to provide assistance with the cost of formal training at a vocational technical school, community college or university; transportation to/from an evaluation or training program; and personal maintenance while participating in evaluation or training. Additional services may include interpreter and reader services, rehabilitation teaching services, orientation and mobility services, and adaptive computer technology and training.

It should be noted that the above services described in this section are not an exhaustive list of all of the different services VR may be able to provide, but rather a general outline of the types of services that may be provided based upon the unique needs of each individual student. In addition, the provision of some services may depend upon other types of financial aid such as the Federal Pell Grant or medical insurance, which may also be utilized to assist with financial costs associated with some VR services.

  1. Exceptions:

All service limitations expressed in this Chapter are subject to the exception provisions expressed in Chapter 26.


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