NY State Education Department Office of Vocational and Educational Services for Individuals with Disabilities

Transition Services:

A Planning and

Implementation Guide

January, 1993

Dear Colleague:

The inclusion of transition services in Article 89 of the Laws of New York State, as amended by Chapter 699 of the Laws of 1993, affirms the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Educators, parents and students are now provided with the opportunity and methods to prepare secondary students with disabilities for living, learning, working, and participating much more successfully in the community as adults.

This booklet contains guidelines for helping you to implement a planning process that enhances the results of the individualized education program (IEP) for each student with a disability in your district. The process enables parents, students, adult agency representatives, and other members of the school and community to work together in new ways to develop and carry out services that help students make successful transitions to adult life.

Transition principles parallel the initiatives of the Board of Regents as stated in the New Compact for Learning and the Policies on Linking Services for Individuals with Disabilities. We look forward to working with you to reexamine and strengthen the services that are provided to students with disabilities with a focus on preparing them to achieve their goals for integrated employment, post secondary education and community living.


Thomas Neveldine
Executive Coordinator
for Special Education Services
Office of Elementary, Middle
and Secondary Education
Edmund Cortez
Assistant Commissioner
for Policy and Program Development
Office of Vocational and Educational
Services for Individuals With Disabilities


  1. Introduction

    What does this handbook cover?
    Why plan for transition?
    What are transition services?
    What students receive these services?
    When must districts comply?
    How consistent are federal and State requirements?
    How can districts initiate the process?
    What is the intent of this requirement?

  2. Laws, Regulations and Policies

    Special Education Definition
    Transition Services Definition
    Federal Comments and Interpretations
    Related Services Definitions
    Content of the Individualized Education Program (IEP)
    Participants Involved In Planning for Transition Services
    Notification Requirements

  3. Student and Family Participation
  4. Steps in the IEP Process When Transition is Discussed

    Creating the Climate
    Before the Meeting
    During the Meeting
    After the Meeting

  5. Transition Planning Timeline
  6. Vocational Assessment
  7. Confidentiality Release Process
  8. Roles and Responsibilities of School District
  9. Creating Collaborative Interagency Arrangements
  10. Questions and Answers
  11. Resources
  12. Referral for Vocational Rehabilitation Services Provided by State Agencies
  13. Appendices

    A.1 Sample Parent/Guardian Orientation Letter A.2 Sample Student Orientation Letter B. Transition Questionnaire: A Tool for Transition Planning
    C. Sample Notice Letter
    D. Confidentiality Release Form
    E. Transition Planning Inventory
    F. Level I Vocational Assessment
    G. Sample Work Experience Progress Report Form
    H. Sample Individualized Education Program (IEP)
    I. Sample Transition Goals and Objectives
    J. VESID or CBVH Referral Form and Contacts

  14. References


What does this handbook cover? The purpose of this guide is to summarize the key components of transition services and to assist districts with planning and implementing the new federal and State requirements under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and Article 89 of New York State Education Law. The handbook highlights applicable law and regulations and provides a logical process that addresses the requirements for transition services for special education students. Boxed material contains State and/or federal requirements that pertain to transition, with new language highlighted in bold print. The appendices provide sample documents to assist with this process.

Why plan for transition? Transition into the adult world can present challenges for all young people. The process of transition is more difficult for many youth with disabilities and requires unique strategies to enable each student to achieve the maximum possible independence in working, living and participating in the community as adults.

What are transition services? The IDEA and Article 89 define transition services as a coordinated set of activities which are designed to prepare the student for outcomes that are envisioned for the student in adult life. Outcomes may include postsecondary education, employment, vocational training, adult education, adult services, independent living, and community participation. The set of activities for each student needs to be based on the student's individual needs, preferences, and interests. The activities must include instruction, community experiences, and development of employment or other post-school adult living objectives.

What students receive these services? As part of their Individualized Education Program (IEP) all secondary education students with disabilities, ages 15 through 21, and younger if determined appropriate, who are eligible to receive special education services must be provided with transition services. For students younger than age 15 who are considered to be at risk of dropping out of school, or who could benefit from transition services, this process should be initiated earlier. The transition planning process must be delivered in a manner that is sensitive to the participation of students and their families from all cultural and linguistic backgrounds.

When must districts comply? School districts are currently required to provide transition services for all students with disabilities aged 15 to 21. Key laws and regulations are summarized below:
  • The New York State Board of Regents, through its Policies for Linking Services for Individuals with Disabilities (1990) required transition planning and services for students with disabilities, including both those who are served in special education and those served through regular education.
  • The IDEA amendments became effective in 1990 and included a requirement for districts to provide transition services for all students with disabilities age 16 and older. (20 USC 1401(a)(19))
  • The federal regulations implementing the IDEA, which were published on September 29, 1992, require districts to provide transition services to all students with disabilities aged 16-21, or younger if the student is thought to be at risk. (34 CFR 300.18 and 300.346 (b))
  • In August, 1993, Article 89 of NYS Education Law was amended to include transition services. (NY Educ. L. Sec 4401 (2)(7) and (9))
  • In September, 1993, the NYS Board of Regents passed State regulations conforming with federal requirements for transition services. (8 NYCRR 200.1 (rr), 200.4 (C)(2)(V), and 200.4 (f)(2)(iv)(b)(4))

Are federal and State requirements for transition services consistent?

Federal and State requirements defining transition services for students with disabilities are consistent. The key difference is that New York State requires that transition services be provided by age 15 rather than 16, as federal law provides.
How can districts initiate the process? Districts are advised to develop a strategic plan for incorporating transition services within the Individualized Education Program (IEP) process. To implement transition planning and services, the CSE will need a method for identifying post-school outcomes for each student and for incorporating activities in the IEP that prepare the student to fully participate in adult life in the community.

What is the intent of this requirement? The transition planning and service process encourages Committees on Special Education to look beyond the traditional educational focus of the IEP. The intent of transition planning is to enable youth with disabilities to live, work, and continue to learn in the community with supports if necessary as adults. The process of developing transition plans involves the following quality components:
  • Students are actively involved in transition planning and are supported in achieving their desired adult goals.
  • Family members and other community service agencies, as appropriate, are informed, involved, and invested in transition planning.
  • Transition planning addresses services and supports across all areas of one's life.
  • A documented, sequential process is followed.
  • Services and supports are provided in a timely manner as specified in the IEP, as agreed to by the student and family.
  • Unmet needs are identified and addressed through an ongoing commitment to each person.
  • The accomplishment of outcomes is measured in terms of students successfully achieving their post-school living, learning and working goals.
  • Services provide maximum inclusion for students from linguistically and culturally diverse backgrounds.

Paragraph adapted from Onondaga Council, 1992


Special Education Definition.
"Special Education" means specially designed individualized or group instruction or special services or programs, as defined in subdivision 2 of section 4401 of the Education Law, provided at no cost to the parent, to meet the individual needs of students with disabilities.
  1. Such instruction included but is not limited to that conducted in classrooms, in homes, hospitals and institutions, and in other settings.

(8 NYCRR 200.1(kk); see also 34 CFR 300.17)

"Special services or programs" include:

  1. Special classes, transitional support services, resource rooms, direct and indirect consultant teacher services, transition services..., home instruction, and special teachers to include itinerant teachers as provided by the schools of the district of residence with such terms and services to be defined by regulations of the commissioner.

(NY Educ L 4401 (2)(a)

Transition Services Definition.
"Transition Services" means a coordinated set of activities for a student with a disability, designed within an outcome oriented process, that promotes movement from school to post-school activities, including, but not limited to, postsecondary education, vocational training, integrated competitive employment (including supported employment), continuing and adult education, adult services, independent living, or community participation. The coordinated set of activities must be based on the individual student's needs, taking into account the student's preferences and interests, and shall include needed activities in the following areas:
  1. instruction;
  2. community experiences;
  3. the development of employment, and other post-school adult living objectives; and
  4. if appropriate, acquisition of daily living skills and functional vocational evaluation.

(8 NYCRR 200.1(rr); see also 34 CFR 300.18)

As a result of these changes in definition of special education in federal and State law and regulations, transition services in community settings may be funded as special education services.
Federal Comments and Interpretations Notes to federal regulations (34 CFR 300.18) indicate that:
  • Transition services may be special education if they are specially designed instruction, or related services, if they are required to assist a student with a disability to benefit from special education.
  • The list of "activities" is not intended to be exhaustive but are only examples of different types of post-school activities.

The Secretary of Education defines key terms in the provision of transition services as follows:

  • The term "coordinated" means both
    1. the linkage between each of the component activities that comprise transition services, and
    2. the interrelationship between the various agencies that are involved in the provision of transition services to a student.
  • The term outcome as used in the phrase "outcome-oriented process", refers to the results, or intended effect, of the activities on a student.

Related Services Definitions

The definition of related services has been amended to incorporate rehabilitation counseling services. In addition, social work services in schools has been redefined. These changes expand the options for transition services. Key sections are highlighted below.

Related Services Definition. "Related Services" means speech pathology and audiology, psychological services, physical therapy, occupational therapy, counseling services, including rehabilitation counseling services, medical services as defined in this section, parent counseling and training, school health services, school social work, other appropriate developmental or corrective support services, appropriate access to recreation and other appropriate support services.

(8 NYCRR 200.1 (gg); see also 34 CFR 300.16)

To define specific related services for New York State students who are classified as having a disability, the State relies on the wording found in the federal regulations. The definitions for rehabilitation counseling and social work services are provided below.

Rehabilitation Counseling is a new Related Service. "Rehabilitation counseling services" means services provided by qualified personnel in individual or group sessions that focus specifically on career development, employment preparation, achieving independence, and integration in the workplace and community of a student with a disability. The term also includes vocational rehabilitation services provided to students with disabilities by vocational rehabilitation programs funded under the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended.

(34 CFR 300.16)

Social Work as a Related Service has been expanded. "Social work services in schools" includes preparing a social or developmental history on a child with a disability; group and individual counseling with the child and family; working with those problems in a child's living situation (home, school, and community) that affect the child's adjustment in school; and mobilizing school and community resources to enable the child to learn as effectively as possible in his or her educational program.

(34 CFR 300.16)

Note additionally that in New York State, rehabilitation teaching and orientation and mobility training for students with legal blindness are considered related services.

Content of the Individualized Education Program

The federal and State regulations describe how the content of the Individualized Education Program (IEP) must address needed transition services, including district and other participating agency responsibilities. In addition, New York State law and regulations reinforce the decision of the New York State Board of Regents, as stated in the 1990 Policies for Linking Services for Individuals with Disabilities, to provide transition planning and services for all students with disabilities beginning at age 15. The effect of this change in New York State is that at age 15, or earlier if appropriate, a shift should occur in the focus of a student's IEP to holistically address transition throughout the student's educational program. The IEP should include long term adult outcomes from which annual goals and objectives are defined.

IEP Content Shall Indicate...
  1. ... present levels of performance and ... the individual needs of the student...
  2. ... classification of the disability;
  3. ... annual goals that are consistent with the student's needs and abilities and short-term instructional objectives and evaluative criteria, evaluation procedures and schedules to be followed during the period beginning with placement and ending with the next scheduled review by the committee. Such short-term instructional objectives shall be measurable, intermediate steps between present levels of educational performance and the annual goals that are established for a student with a disability;
  4. ... the recommended program ... the class size, if appropriate, and the extent to which the student will participate in regular education programs, including:
    1. physical education or adaptive physical education;
    2. occupational education, if appropriate; and
    3. the regular education classes in which the student will receive consultant teacher services.
  5. ... for those students age 15 (and at a younger age, if determined appropriate) a statement of the needed transition services ... including, if applicable, a statement of the responsibilities of the school district and participating agency for the provision of such services and activities that promote movement from school to post school opportunities, or both, before the student leaves the school setting. Activities shall be provided in each area (instruction, community experiences, and the development of employment and other post-school living objectives) or the recommendation shall state the reasons upon which the determination was made that such activities are not needed in each area;
  6. ... projected date for initiation of special education and related services, the amount of time per day the student will receive such services, whether the student is eligible for a twelve-month special service and/or program and the identity of the provider of services during the months of July and August, and the projected date of the review of the student's need for such services;
  7. ... any specialized equipment and adaptive devices needed for the student to benefit from education;
  8. ... those testing modifications to be used consistently by the student in the recommended educational program; and
  9. ... the recommended placement.

(8 NYCRR 200.4(c)(2); see also 34 CFR 300.346)

Participants Involved In Planning for Transition Services

Whenever transition services are discussed at Committee on Special Education (CSE) meetings, the school district must ensure participation of students and families, as well as participation of those agencies that may provide transition services.

Composition of the Committee on Special Education The board of education or trustees of each school district, shall establish committees on special education, as necessary to ensure timely evaluation and placement of pupils.... Such committees shall be composed of at least the child's teacher as defined by applicable federal regulations, a school psychologist, a representative of such school district who is qualified to provide or administer or supervise special education, a school physician, a parent of a handicapped child residing in the school district, provided such parent shall not be employed by or under contract with the school district, and such other persons as the board of education or the board of trustees shall designate. The school physician need not be in attendance at any meeting of the committee on special education unless specifically requested.... The committee shall invite the appropriate professionals most familiar with a child's handicap or handicaps to attend any meeting concerning the education program for such child.

(NY Educ L 4402(1)(b)(1))

CSE Participation Such (IEP) recommendations shall be developed in meetings of the committee on special education. The student's parent and, where appropriate, the student shall be given an opportunity to attend the meeting. Meeting locations must be physically accessible. The committee shall ensure that the parent understands the proceedings of the meeting and shall arrange for the presence of an interpreter, if necessary.

Placement shall be based on the student's individualized education program and determined at least annually....

If the recommended placement is to be in a school operated by an agency or school other than the school district in which the student would normally attend if the student did not have a disability or if the education of a student residing in a facility operated or supervised by a State department or agency is the responsibility of the school district, a representative of that agency or school shall be given the opportunity to attend. In the event that such persons are unable to attend such meetings, the committee shall attempt alternative means allowing for their participation, such as individual or conference telephone discussions, and such attempts shall be documented....

(8 NYCRR 200.4(c)(3))

IEP meeting participants if the IEP meeting will discuss transition. If a purpose of the meeting is to consider the need for transition services, the school district shall invite the student and a representative of the agencies likely to be responsible for providing or paying for transition services.
  1. If the student does not attend, the district shall take steps to ensure that the student's preferences and interests are considered.
  2. If an agency invited to send a representative to a meeting does not do so, the district shall take steps to involve the other agency in the planning of any transition services.

    (8 NYCRR 200.4(c)(4); see also 34 CFR 300.344)

Definition of Participating Agency "Participating agency" means a State or local agency, other than the public agencyresponsible for a student's education, that is financially and legally responsible for providing transition services to the student.

(8 NYCRR 200.1 (ss))

Prior to the CSE meeting to determine transition planning, CSE members should have knowledge of the services provided by any participating agency expected to send a representative. This will enable the CSE to invite appropriate agencies to participate in discussions regarding the provision of transition services for each student.

Existing provisions of State and federal regulations provide that in addition to annual reviews, if the parent, teacher, school administrator, or agency administrator believe that a placement or program recommended in the IEP is no longer appropriate, the individual may refer the student to the CSE for a review. The student's current placement remains the same pending the development of a new recommendation, unless other arrangements are mutually agreed upon by the board of education and the parent. Similarly, the CSE must reconvene to consider other strategies to meet the transition objectives, should the participating agency fail to deliver agreed upon services.

What if the participating agency fails to provide services as planned? If a participating agency fails to provide agreed-upon transition services contained in the student's IEP, the district responsible for the student's education shall, as soon as possible, initiate a meeting to identify alternative strategies to meet the transition objectives, and if necessary, revise the student's IEP. Nothing in this Part shall relieve any participating agency of its responsibility to provide or pay for any transition service that the agency would otherwise provide to students with disabilities who meet its eligibility criteria.

(8 NYCRR 200.4 (3); see also 34 CFR 300.347

Notification Requirements

Under existing regulations, the committee on special education must notify parents when an initial evaluation, review or reevaluation is being conducted. Notices must be received by parents at least five days prior to a meeting of the CSE and must indicate the date, time, location and the name and title of people expected to attend the meeting. Parents must be informed of their opportunity to participate, and that they have the right to request an interpreter, translator or reader at the meeting and to be accompanied by such individuals as they wish to invite. The notice must notify the parents of their rights to review records and to appeal if they disagree with the CSE's recommendations. The notification letter must be written in the primary language of the parents, and alternative steps must be taken to ensure the parent understands the content of notices if the parent's principal mode of communication is not a written language. All due process procedures under Section 200.5 of the Regulations of the Commissioner apply to transition planning and the provision of services.

When the purpose of the meeting is to discuss and plan for transition services, the notice to the parents must also specify this purpose, and indicate that the student and participating agencies have been invited. The student must be invited separately. A sample notice letter to the parent and the student is included in the appendix.

Notice requirement when transition will be discussed. If the purpose of the meeting is to consider transition services, the notice must also:
  1. indicate this purpose;
  2. indicate that the district will invite the student; and
  3. identify any other agency that will be invited to send a representative.

(8 NYCRR 200.5 (1)(a)(xii); see also 34 CFR 300.345)

Federal regulations indicate options if parents can't attend the meetings.
  • If neither parent can attend, the district shall use other methods to ensure parent participation, including individual or conference telephone calls.
  • A meeting may be conducted without a parent in attendance if the district is unable to convince the parents that they should attend. In this case the district must have a record of its attempts to arrange a mutually agreed on time and place such as: detailed records of telephone calls made or attempted and the results of those calls; copies of correspondence sent to the parents and any responses received; and detailed records of visits made to the parent's home or place of employment and the results of those visits.

(34 CFR 300.345)


Effective planning for transition services necessitates involving the student and family to the greatest degree possible in determining what the IEP should address. Involvement is critical for developing transition services that truly meet the needs of the student. Listed below are steps that families can take to assist the process at home and in conjunction with the school.

What are the roles of students and families in transition generally?
  • Help school and other personnel to increase their awareness of how to work effectively with families.
  • Explore and let others know about useful community resources.

    Advise the CSE regarding community values and opportunities that should be considered in the planning process.

  • Inform other families about transition options.
  • Providing peer support to other parents.

Adapted from California Transition Guide

What is the role of the student in planning for transition services?
  • Look for information about occupational, educational and living options; talk with people; and try new experiences to develop awareness of student needs, preferences and interests for the future.
  • Work with the school and the family to find ways to increase student academic, career, and personal independence skills.
  • Make informed choices and set achievable goals.
  • Develop the ability to communicate needs, preferences and interests to the family, school staff, and other professionals.
  • Learn the kinds of things a student can do independently and the kinds of things where assistance is needed. Develop the ability to explain to others the kinds of help which are useful.
  • Participate actively in meetings with the school and other professionals. Learn to contribute ideas as well as to listen to the ideas of others. Follow through on plans that have been agreed upon. Ask questions or share information with the teacher or guidance counselor throughout the student's program.

Adapted from California Transition Guide

What is the role of families in planning for transition services?
  • Plan and prepare for future financial, medical and housing resource needs, as appropriate by: (a) assisting with application for Social Security Disability or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits; (b) developing a will; (c) determining guardianship; (d) applying for financial aid for post-secondary education or training.
  • Assist the student to obtain key identification documents, as appropriate: e.g., a social security card; driver's license or non-driver identification card.
  • Help the student develop independent decision-making and communication skills, by helping the student explore options, set realistic goals for the future and developing the ability to communicate these to school staff.
  • Support positive self-esteem and assist the student to develop independence, including self-reliance, self-advocacy and self-management skills.
  • Use home-life opportunities to assist in teaching the student daily living skills: e.g., banking, shopping, cooking, cleaning, laundry. Promote good money management, budgeting, and saving by the student.
  • Encourage the student to become aware of the world of work, such as by talking with neighbors and family about their job experiences or by helping the student to locate and obtain a part-time job.
  • Reinforce work-related behaviors at home (grooming, etiquette, following directions, completing chores, etc.).
  • Provide opportunities for leisure time activities such as participation in sports, daily exercise, or hobbies, and encourage student social activities with peers. Teach the student how to access community-based resources (library, recreation, transportation, stores, etc.)
  • Work actively with the CSE to plan and monitor the effectiveness of the student's transition program. Attend CSE and other meetings and communicate with school personnel to contribute information about the student's life skills, interests, aptitudes, progress and needs. Follow up and complete activities for which the student and family are responsible. Contact the student's teacher with any questions or to share further information as the program unfolds.

Adapted from California Transition Guide


To assist school districts in coordinating transition planning and services, following is an outline of actions recommended at key points in the process.

Creating the Climate

  1. Identify resources, programs, and options available within the school and the community.
  2. Identify and orient potential participants to the process, roles, responsibilities, and purpose, including:
  3. District Staff (e.g., teachers, guidance personnel, CSE members and others).
  4. Parents and Students.
  5. Community Service Providers and Representatives of local and State agencies.

Before the Meeting, the CSE should:

  1. Send letters to parents, students, appropriate staff and public and private agencies explaining how the meeting will address transition services. Include a checklist for student and family to identify needs, preferences and interests for discussion at the meeting.
  2. Schedule meetings and send notices.
  3. Compile and review information regarding: student needs, preferences and interests; previous evaluation information (including vocational assessment); teacher recommendations; annual guidance reviews; student aptitudes and accomplishments, plus any other information, including family and student goals.
  4. Prepare a suggested list of service options to address skill development or resource planning concerns. Consider which of the following activities will be useful in meeting the student outcomes noted in the IEP.
    1. Instruction;
    2. Community Participation;
    3. Development of Employment/Postsecondary Education Objectives;
    4. And if appropriate,
      • Activities of Daily Living (ADL) development, and
      • Functional Vocational Assessment.

During the Meeting

  1. Make introductions.
  2. Select Priority Student Outcomes.
  3. Identify Opportunities to Achieve Adult Outcomes.
  4. Identify Transition Services and Incremental Annual Goals and Objectives.

    Develop transition services and the annual goals and objectives that guide the provision of special education. This will incrementally build toward long term adult outcomes.

  5. Identify Supports.

    Identify resources, programs, services, or supports to achieve both long term outcomes and annual goals.

  6. Develop Individualized Education Program (IEP).

After the Meeting

  1. Implement IEP.
  2. Monitor Outcomes.


From an individual student perspective, the following is a series of events that may need to be considered during the student's transition process. All items will not be applicable to all students. The list is provided to serve as an optional planning tool.


Suggested Age Range

_____ Administer initial vocational assessment


_____ Discuss the following curriculum areas at IEP meetings:
  • Academic
  • Social
  • Language/communication
  • Occupational
  • Self-help skills
  • Self advocacy skills


_____ Develop and implement strategies to increase responsibilities and independence at home.


_____ Complete periodic vocational evaluations.


_____ Introduce & discuss Transition Services


_____ Notify parents that transition services will be incorporated into the IEP beginning at age 15


_____ Assure that copies of work-related documents are available:
  • Social security card
  • Birth certificate
  • Obtain working papers (if appropriate)


_____ Obtain parental consent so that the appropriate adult agency representative can be involved


_____ Develop transition component of IEP and annually thereafter


_____ Discuss adult transition with CSE


_____ Consider summer employment/ volunteer experience


_____ Explore community leisure activities


_____ Consider the need for residential opportunities, including completing applications, as appropriate.


_____ Obtain personal ID card


_____ Obtain driver's training & license


_____ Develop Transportation/Mobility Strategies:
  • Independent Travel Skills Training
  • Public or Paratransit Transportation
  • Needs for Travel Attendant


_____ Investigate SSDI/SSI/Medicaid programs


_____ Consider guardianship or emancipation


_____ Develop & update employment plans


_____ Involve VESID/CBVH, as appropriate, within 2 years of school exit


_____ Research possible adult living situations


_____ Investigate post-school opportunities (further educational vocational training, college, military, etc.)


_____ Seek legal guardianship


_____ Apply for post-school college & other training programs


_____ Male students register for the draft. (No exceptions)


_____ Register to vote


_____ Review health insurance coverage: inform insurance company of son/daughter disability & investigate rider of continued eligibility


_____ Complete transition to employment, further education or training, and community living, affirming arrangements are in place for the following

1. Post-Secondary/Continuing Education

2. Employment

3. Legal/Advocacy

4. Personal Independence/Residential

5. Recreation/Leisure

6. Medical/Health

7. Counseling

8. Financial/Income

9. Transportation/Independent Travel Skills

10. Other:



Assessment is an ongoing responsibility for the district special education program, beginning with assessing referrals for special education services and continuing throughout subsequent annual reviews. The planning and delivery of transition services includes the CSE's development of post-school employment objectives based on student needs, preferences and interests. These can be identified through an effective, student-centered vocational assessment process.

Transition services are defined on the basis of student needs, preferences, and interests.
The coordinated set of activities must be based on the individual student's needs, taking into account the student's performance and interests; and shall include need activities in the following areas:
  1. Instruction;
  2. Community experiences;
  3. The development of employment and other post-school adult living objectives; and
  4. If appropriate, acquisition of daily living skills and functional vocational evaluation.

(8NYCRR 200.1 (rr))

Vocational assessments are integral to the special education process in the State.
Students age 12 and those referred to special education for the first time who are age 12 and over, shall receive an assessment that includes a review of school records and assessments, and parent and student interviews to determine vocational skills, aptitudes and interests.

(8NYCRR 200.4(b)(4)(vii))

What is vocational assessment? Vocational assessment involves the systematic collection and analysis of information about a student's vocational aptitudes, skills, expressed interests, and occupational exploration history (volunteer experiences, part-time or summer employment, club activities). The collection of this information should also take into account the student's language, culture and family. Based on the student's age, abilities, expressed interests, and needs, an appropriate vocational assessment may include the review of existing school information and the conduct of informal interviews (a Level I type of assessment), the administration of one or more formal vocational evaluations (Level II), or job and student performance analyses made in real or simulated work settings as reported by the student, employer, job coach or vocational evaluator (Level III).
How does vocational assessment relate to transition planning during the student's school career? The vocational assessment process yields information needed by students, families, schools, participating agencies and employers to identify appropriate options and plan for each student's successful post-school transition to integrated employment or post-secondary education. The process should not be used to limit student's educational or career options, but should be designed to allow districts to begin providing developmental opportunities at an earlier age than traditionally has been done. If planned effectively, the cumulative record of vocational assessments and vocational experiences over time will reflect a portfolio of career exploration and the development of a resume of skills and experiences upon which the student can build a viable career.
How does it ease the transition to other services ? The clarity and comprehensiveness of documents reporting vocational assessment and experiences can smooth the transition to adult services and employment by making it unnecessary for such service agencies to request further, duplicative assessments of students as a prerequisite for sponsorship in further training after exiting school. The CSE's early identification of needs, preferences and interests for post-school life can enable adult service agencies to get to know the student prior to school exit and develop appropriate services that will begin on a timely basis, and be coordinated with the student's exit from school.
Who is responsible for vocational assessments? Vocational assessments as needed to plan appropriate transition services are the responsibility of the CSE and the school district. The CSE is responsible for completing a Level I assessment that includes a review of school records, teacher assessments, and parent and student interviews to determine vocational skills, aptitudes and interests of all students with disabilities beginning at age 12 and, as appropriate, annually thereafter. As a result, by the time transition services begin at age 15, the school, family and student should be familiar with the results of Level I vocational assessments and be able to discuss the student's emerging aptitudes, skills and interests at the CSE meeting. The use of different types of vocational assessment depends upon the student's needs determined by the CSE, and may include such additional options as situational assessments, work experience progress reports, or postsecondary education assessments. For students with limited English proficiency, assessments should be conducted in the student's primary language, with preference given to situational types of assessment.
Level I Assessment is conducted at age 12, then annually, as appropriate. The Level I assessment does not require any specialized testing or vocational evaluation instruments, but rather takes a look at the student from a vocational perspective. A trained vocational evaluator, a special education teacher or a guidance counselor knowledgeable of the world of work and the functional implications of disabilities should be assigned by the local school district to collect the Level I assessment data. That individual should gather and analyze existing information: e.g., interview student, parent/guardian, and teachers; review special education eligibility data; and review cumulative records. Assessments could include a review of student aptitudes, achievements, interests, learning styles, behaviors, and occupational exploration activities. The informal student interview might consider vocational interest, interpersonal relationship skills, and adaptive behavior.
Level II Assessment is conducted at any age, as deemed appropriate by the CSE. Based upon the information gathered from a Level I assessment and the student's needs, a Level II assessment may be recommended by the CSE at any time to determine the level of a student's vocational skills, aptitudes, and interests. Though it is recommended that a trained vocational evaluator or rehabilitation counselor administer or supervise this level of assessment, an experienced guidance counselor, special education teacher, or occupational education instructor can also be trained to conduct the assessment. Collected data should include: interest inventory, perception (visual/auditory/tactile), motor (dexterity, speed, tool use, strength, coordination), spatial discrimination, verbal (reading, writing, speaking, numerical (measurement, money skills), comprehension (task learning, problem solving), attention (staying on task), and learning styles. This should be accomplished through standardized or functional assessment techniques with emphasis placed on the techniques which prove to be most meaningful to the student and acurately reflect ability.
Level III Assessment is conducted at any age, as appropriate. This is a comprehensive vocational evaluation that uses work, real or simulated, as the basis for assessment and vocational counseling. A trained vocational evaluator should administer or supervise this level of assessment. Level III assessment options include:

Vocational Evaluation - Acquired abilities, aptitudes and interests are compared with specific performance criteria to predict potential vocational success. Work samples must be valid and reliable.

Situational Vocational Assessment - Real work settings are used to enable the student to explore vocational aptitudes, to demonstrate the types of support services needed to enhance optimal performance, or to assist the student to acquire specific skills and abilities. This on-the-job assessment considers what has been learned and how, what aptitudes are demonstrated and what training and support strategies are necessary for developing competencies.

Adapted from Vocational Assessment Guidelines, 1989

How do reports from work study experiences fit in? A standard reporting mechanism for work-related experiences should be used in vocational assessment and transition planning. This is the responsibility of individuals who supervise students with disabilities in work settings (e.g., rehabilitation counselors, work study coordinators, occupational education personnel, job coaches, employers). The standard mechanism should include a structured observation of performance and behavior, including work behaviors, independence, self-advocacy (rights and responsibilities) and social skills. Progress reports from supervisors or mentors provide information similar to that derived from work samples. But, as with situational assessments, reports reflect student skills and adjustment observed in real work situations. A sample form is attached in Appendix G, and will be especially helpful to forward to adult agencies who may need to build subsequent employment services based on what the district has initiated.
What types of assessments are helpful for students who plan postsecondary educational outcomes? Students who plan postsecondary educational outcomes may benefit from two types of assessments:
  1. General Assessments of Postsecondary Education Skills - These assessments determine general needs, directions, requirements for reasonable accommodations, academic skills, critical thinking skills, social behaviors, interpersonal skills, self-advocacy and self-determination skills, learning strategies, time management or organizational skills. Options to obtain this information may consultation with peers or teachers, or a self-evaluation.
  2. Assessments Specific to Field of Study or Setting - Assessments of the student's needs in relation to campus or class settings may identify additional skills or accommodations that must be planned for the student to participate effectively in the specific post-secondary education settings or fields of study (continuing education course vs. two- or four-year college levels, dormitory living vs. commuting, lab work, large lecture vs. seminar courses). Options may include visiting campuses or meeting with experienced students or postsecondary education personnel to obtain advice and information.


How is confidentiality related to transition planning? Schools are required to invite adult service representatives to participate in transition planning meetings, or otherwise participate in the planning process when the other agencies will provide or fund transition services. This must be accomplished while preserving rights of confidentiality of personally identifiable information under the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), (aka the Buckley Amendment).
What is the purpose of a confidentiality release? The parents or guardians may give permission to the school to disclose student information to others by signing a consent to release information form. Disclosure means the release, transfer or other communication of education records, or the personally identifiable information contained in those records. Disclosures covered by the Act include those released by any means including, oral, written or electronic.
Discuss confidentiality at orientation. To involve the expertise of non-school personnel in the planning process, it is recommended that confidentiality be discussed with families during the orientation phase, and that parents or guardians have sufficient information to give written consent to release student information prior to scheduling the initial transition planning meetings. The expertise, benefits and resources available from the particular agency should be considered in determining whether or not to sign a release permitting other agencies to help with the planning process. It is important that parents understand that signing the release allows for dialogue and consultation, it does not commit the individual or the family to particular services if they later decide they don't want them.
Points to keep in mind. A sample consent form is contained in the Appendix of this document. Points to keep in mind in completing it include the following:
  • Specify the records to be released;
  • State the purpose of the disclosure;
  • Identify the parties or class of parties to whom the disclosure may be made;
  • State that the permission can be withdrawn and indicate how;
  • Give the parent or eligible student access to a copy of any records disclosed; and
  • Note on all confidentiality release forms that once a student turns 18, it is the student and not the parent who is authorized to sign for the release of educational records unless appropriate letters of guardianship have been awarded to the parents by the courts.
Acknowledge student and family concerns. In discussing the release of information process with students and parents, be sure to discuss and acknowledge their concerns about confidentiality of information. The discussion below addresses typical areas of concern about how adult agencies use information and suggests responses.

In regard to privacy protection, publicly-funded service agencies, including schools, are required to protect the confidentiality of personally identifiable information being discussed. Personally identifiable information cannot be released without the person's or their parent's consent. Once the adult agency has the information, their confidentiality rules limit access to personally identifiable information to only authorized personnel, such as case managers or program overseers. The general public does not have access to personally identifiable information.

In regard to any possible stigma associated with disclosing to adult service programs, information pertaining to the student's disability, confidentiality rules for adult service programs require that information be used in the best interests of the person being served. Permitting the district to share information with the adult service program may enable the student to be found eligible for needed services where services are targeted for assisting individuals with specific disabilities. Also, understanding the nature of the disability can help the adult agency case manager to more effectively plan for programs and services, including arranging for accommodations that will help the student participate successfully in spite of his or her disability.

A part of the initial discussion between the student and the case service representative should include the student asking about how information will be used and confidences protected. Ideally case service personnel in adult service agencies are trained to value the individual's confidences, interests, goals, abilities, and needs. In practice, they should involve the individual actively in planning his or her own services in accordance with the person recognizing his or her own needs, preferences, and interests. Where an individual believes that he or she is not being treated fairly or if the person disagrees with recommendations for services, each system should have informal and formal processes for resolving concerns.


The implementation of transition may impact on the way that district staff define their roles. Following is a summary of how roles may be different:

What can special education teachers and other school staff do? Acquire detailed knowledge about community service agencies by obtaining resource guides, attending resource fairs and other public presentations, or calling individually to inquire about service options.

Provide a supportive atmosphere for the student and family to communicate with school staff, enabling the ready exchange of information between school and home that will help all parties to be working together toward mutually agreed upon adult outcomes.

Assist the student and family to clarify desirable outcomes, and encourage their active participation in transition planning and transition activities. Help the student to understand assessment information and be able to discuss that information as it applies to planning adult outcomes.

Provide information on the student's language proficiency and recommend strategies to improve learning opportunities for second language learners.

Provide ongoing assessment of functional levels related to transition, i.e., academic skills, work behaviors, social skills, independent living, self-advocacy skills and vocational skills. Provide assessment information in a form that is as readily understood by the student and family as by other professionals.

Design new or revise existing curriculum to teach the skills needed for obtaining desired student outcomes. Include assignments that apply knowledge to adult life roles, and consider community experiences as a teaching tool.

Document the process through the IEP.

Adapted from California Transition Guide

What can district administrators do? Provide or facilitate district-wide staff development on transition services. Enable access to technical assistance, and disseminate information on implementation of law and regulations. Increase staff awareness about fiscal and programmatic resources and flexibility of options.

Implement a comprehensive functional curriculum focusing on vocational/occupational training, personal management, and recreation/leisure skills for all students with disabilities.

Encourage regional, state, and national networking of district staff, students, families, service providers, post-secondary education programs, and employers. For example, facilitate the development of regional or local memoranda of understanding with other community agencies. Facilitate development of local interagency transition policy/planning teams.

Develop a database of information about student needs during the years prior to graduation and inform adult agencies about potential needs for services.

Follow-up with those who leave school to determine the effectiveness of transition services in preparing them for participation in integrated employment, postsecondary education, and community living.

Include special education administrators and personnel on career pathways projects and other curriculum and occupational education task forces and projects.

Provide leadership to staff in examining existing CSE process to determine better ways to fulfill student planning and service requirements.

Adapted from California Transition Guide


School districts are not expected to work alone in developing and delivering transition services. Districts are encouraged to network with other service systems and formalize relationships that can be called upon for advice, provision of services, and resources, as appropriate. This section summarizes some methods for establishing or participating with interagency planning groups on transition, as well as summarizing key points of State and federal level interagency agreements that may be of help to schools in accessing services.

What factors contribute to successful collaboration? Decisions are made jointly by consumers, families, and professionals who are involved with the student.

There is increased emphasis on innovativeness and flexibility.

A clear commitment for local cooperation comes from the top administrative levels of collaborating agencies.

Written policies describe ongoing roles and responsibilities to sustain organizational relationships even when personnel changes occur within one or more of the agencies.

Local agreements are kept current and there is a concerted effort to keep lines of communication open by maintaining active participation at regular meetings.

One agency serves as a team leader to facilitate local programming.

There is coordinated analysis of needs assessment data from each agency.

Sufficient time is allocated by agency administrators for staff to participate. Agency representatives meeting with the group are empowered to recommend policy. Participation is driven by interest in improving interagency linkages to enhance services.

Evaluation criteria are identified when planning activities are initiated (measurable short- and long-term goals).

There is ongoing follow-up of students who leave school to indicate program effectiveness.

What are the purposes of an interagency planning group? An interagency transition planning council is one mechanism to increase the availability, access, and quality of transition services through the development and improvement of policies, procedures, systems, funding, and other mechanisms for providing services to youth with disabilities and their families. It is recommended that the council focus on the successful transition of all students with disabilities with sub-groups addressing specific topics. It is helpful to develop formalized relationships with written agreements.
What are goals for interagency councils? Coordinate services to ensure nonduplication and cost-effectiveness of service delivery. This includes combining resources to maximize funding.

Share responsibility for assisting students through the maze of services.

Provide a quality, local service delivery system that includes providing more effective services to students and families.

Provide information on the services needed as predicted by aggregate data forms.

Increase positive student outcomes in adult living, learning, and working roles.

Develop a pool of adult service agency representatives who can attend CSE meetings and act as resources regarding the variety of service options available from different systems to aid in the transition process.

How can interagency linkages be built? To facilitate the coordination of services, schools should collaborate with other public and private schools and agencies and the Regional Transition Coordination Site on forming interagency transition planning councils. Potential members include:

District Offices

Educational Institution

Linkages Unit of VESID

NYS Office of Mental Retardation & Developmental Disabilities

NYS State Employment Service

NYS Office of Mental Health

NYS Division for Youth

County Mental Health

County Department of Social Services

County Probation Department

Family members


Independent Living Centers

Local, County, and State Support Groups

Board of Cooperative Educational Services

Vocational and Applied Technology Education Act (VATEA) coordinators

Special Education Training & Resource Centers

Special Education Administrator Leadership Training Academies

Bilingual Education Technical Assistance Centers (BETAC's)

Two-year and four-year colleges Job Training Partnership Act

(JTPA) Private Industry Councils (PIC)

Local employers

Adult and Continuing Education Programs

What are the roles and responsibilities of members of interagency planning councils? Identify local needs and develop local solutions. This includes identifying and addressing conflicts and gaps in services and service delivery patterns.

Share information about eligibility requirements for services and establish a local referral-eligibility process for students.

Provide information about, and advocate for, local options for living arrangements, transportation, employment, leisure activities, case management, and financial resources.

Be informed about the IEP and IWRP processes.

Enter into formal and informal interagency agreements or understandings to coordinate service delivery to students.

Review aggregate data to determine current and future needs for services, and develop plans for providing services.

Develop service directories to clarify/describe organizational structures, including:

  • Goals, objectives and agency responsibilities
  • Referral process
  • Confidentiality process for exchanging individual student information
  • Services and programs provided
  • Due Process and appeal
  • Program evaluation
  • Eligibility
  • Methods of assessment
  • Staff profile: experience, professional training, functions
  • Community access.

Adapted from California Transition Guide

Are there existing statewide interagency agreements that schools should know about? Specific agreements, whose terms are summarized below, affect the practice of transition at the school district level:

Joint EMS-VESID Agreement on the Provision of Transition Services (1992), which was amended to include CBVH (1993), describes how the state and local level education, special education and vocational rehabilitation systems will be working together in a new relationship on behalf of transition.

SED-OMRDD Memorandum of Understanding describes how the systems providing education and developmental disabilities services will interact around lifelong learning issues, including transition.

SED-OMH Memorandum of Agreement describes how the systems providing education and mental health services will interact around lifelong learning issues, including transition.

What is the EMS-VESID-CBVH Joint Agreement on the Provision of Transition Services? The Joint Agreement establishes the basic principles under which the New York State Education Department and vocational rehabilitation service systems are implementing federal and State requirements for transition services. The parties involved are the Office of Elementary, Middle and Secondary Education (EMS) and the Office of Vocational and Educational Services for Individuals with Disabilities (VESID) and the New York State Department of Social Services Commission for the Blind and Visually Handicapped (CBVH). The agreement covers the four areas of:
  • Increasing successful transition outcomes;
  • Enhancing vocational assessments;
  • Implementing transition planning procedures; and,
  • Implementing functional referral criteria for schools to refer students to VESID and to CBVH.
What are key provisions of the EMS-VESID-CBVH Joint Agreements? Provisions describe the respective roles of EMS, VESID, CBVH schools and counselors, including the following:

On a systems basis, VESID continues to be responsible to develop and coordinate access for individuals with disabilities to lifelong learning systems, including adult and higher education beyond high school.

EMS, VESID, and CBVH will jointly work with schools and other State agencies to coordinate approaches for providing transition services, including removal of duplicative assessment, services and reporting procedures.

District transition planning and services are expected to produce outcomes that reflect preparation for students in employment, further education and community living when they leave schools.

Districts have the primary planning, programmatic, and financial responsibilities for the provision of transition services as mandated by federal or State laws and regulations.

VESID and CBVH counselors are responsible for providing consultation regarding planning, on request, and for providing eligible individual students with vocational rehabilitation services not otherwise mandated through special education requirements.

Referrals to VESID and CBVH counselors for case opening will be made on the basis of consistent, functional criteria defined in the text of the agreement, including a projected school exit within two years.

The building principal (or his/her designee) has been identified as a consistent point of contact with districts for VESID and CBVH counselors.

Each VESID and CBVH District office has identified a Transition Liaison to identify appropriate counselors and to work at the community level to coordinate local VESID and CBVH efforts with schools, families, other service systems and resources.

What are key provisions of the SED-OMRDD Memorandum of Understanding (MOU)? This interagency agreement describes the mutual commitment of the New York State Education Department (SED) and the New York State Office of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities (OMRDD) to carry out joint initiatives to assist families with young children to access appropriate services, enhance integration of services within schools, and broaden vocational as well as lifelong learning opportunities. Specific commitments include the provision of:
  • technical assistance for students, families, and school personnel;
  • collaboration in providing assistive technology;
  • enhanced integration of Medicaid services with school services;
  • expanded employment and independent living options;
  • support for family preservation through social and education supports to help children stay at home or in their home communities; and
  • streamlined access to lifelong support services.

This agreement was signed in February, 1992, and distributed to schools in April 1992. OMRDD's regional offices, called Developmental Disabilities Service Office's (DDSO's) or in New York City Borough Developmental Disabilities Services Office's (BDSO's) are working actively with schools and SED to identify and pilot local collaborative projects.

What are key provisions of the SED-OMH Memorandum of Agreement? This interagency agreement describes the mutual commitment of the NYS Education Department (SED) and the NYS Office of Mental Health (OMH) to jointly develop a complementary system of education, vocational rehabilitation, independent living and mental health services. Specific commitments to districts by OMH include the provision of:
  • cross agency training;
  • consultation or technical assistance;
  • mental health assessment and referral; and
  • help with service linkages.

Possible activities include development of mental health treatment and support services within the student's natural environment (e.g., classrooms and worksites) to eliminate duplication of services, and the provision of assistance in maintaining children in their homes and community-based school programs.

This agreement was signed in November, 1992, and distributed to schools and County Mental Health Directors in February 1993. School districts and County Mental Health Directors are encouraged to discuss current and needed mental health treatment and support services as may be required locally for students.


Q. When does the responsibility of the Committee on Special Education end regarding transition planning and services for students?

A. Districts are responsible for providing transition planning and services as part of the student's Individualized Education Program (IEP) beginning at age 15 and ending when the student either receives a local or Regents diploma or at the end of the school year in which the student turns 21.

Q. Does the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) specify whom the district must designate to coordinate transition planning and services?

A. IDEA does not require a district to designate an individual to coordinate transition planning and services. It is the district's responsibility to insure that transition planning and services are incorporated within the student's IEP and to ensure that these services are being provided appropriately to meet the student's needs, preferences and interests in the least restrictive environment.

Q. How frequently must CSE meetings be held to discuss transition planning and services?

A. Transition planning and services should be discussed at the CSE meeting for each student beginning no later than age 15. Transition services must be reviewed by the CSE at least annually.

Q. Should a student with a disability attend a CSE meeting in which transition planning and services are discussed?

A. Beginning no later than age 15, all students with disabilities must be invited to attend the CSE meeting and be given an opportunity to provide input regarding his or her preferences and interests before a decision about transition services is made.

Q. Does the IEP include only special education and related services or does it describe the total educational program for a student with disabilities age 15 or over?

A. The IEP should include all aspects of the student's special education and related services. At age 15 and older, students with disabilities will have transition planning and services incorporated within their IEP. The IEP must also include the coordinated set of activities and address the student's transition needs through instruction; community experiences; the development of employment and other post-school adult living objectives; and if appropriate, acquisition of daily living skills and functional vocational evaluation. If regular education and vocational education services, as well as any community or business experiences are part of these activities, then the IEP must include a statement that addresses such activities.

Q. Must the district directly provide all transition services described in the IEP?

A. No. However, the district is responsible for coordinating all transition services. The district may work with other State agencies, organizations, community groups, businesses, and colleges to ensure that appropriate transition services are provided to meet the needs of the student age 15 and older.

Q. Is the IEP a performance contract?

A. No. Section 300.350 of the federal regulations makes it clear that the IEP is not a performance contract that imposes liability on a teacher or school district if a child with a disability does not meet the IEP objectives. While the district must provide special education and related services in accordance with the IEP, the Act does not hold the district, the teacher or other persons accountable if the student does not achieve the growth projected in the written statement.

Q. Are secondary students with disabilities who are not classified by the CSE supposed to receive transition planning and services also?

A. Yes, all secondary students with disabilities, ages 15 through 21, and earlier as appropriate, should be provided with transition planning and services. Students who are eligible to receive special education services are served through the IEP process, as described in this guide. Students who have disabilities and who are not eligible for special education services must be provided with transition planning and services as part of their annual guidance review and planning process.


Regional Transition Coordination Sites

Regional Transition Coordination Sites have been set up in New York State to assist local communities to implement transition planning and services. The core objectives of Site activities are to:

Region & County Contact Staff Address
Long Island

Nassau, Suffolk.

Brian McIlvain
John Volonts
Valerie Krizel
John Volonts
Long Island Transition
Coordination Site
BOCES Suffolk 2
350 Martha Avenue
Bellport, NY 11713
New York City

Bronx, Kings,
New York,
Queens, Richmond.

Maureen Piccoli-Kerne
212-779-7200 ext 251
Sonia Braniff
Maureen Piccoli-Kerne,
Coordinator of Vocational &
Transition Services
NYC Board of Education
400 First Avenue, Room 62C
New York City, NY 10010
Hudson Valley

Albany, Columbia,
Dutchess, Greene,
Orange, Putnam,
Rensselaer, Rockland,
Schenectady, Schoharie,
Sullivan, Ulster,

Kerry McKenna
Kerry McKenna, Facilitator
Hudson Valley Transition
Coordination Site
BOCES Southern Westchester
26 Legion Drive
Valhalla, NY 10595
Southern Tier

Broome, Chemung,
Chenango, Delaware,
Otsego, Schuyler,
Steuben, Tioga,

Thomas Golden
Susanne Bruyere
TDD 607-255-2891
Thomas Golden Southern Tier Transition &
Technical Assistance Center
c/o Program on Employment & Disability
Cornell University
105 ILR Extension
Ithaca, NY 14853-3901

Cayuga, Clinton, Cortland,
Essex, Franklin, Fulton,
Hamilton, Herkimer,
Jefferson, Lewis, Madison,
Montgomery, Oneida,
Onondaga, Oswego,
Saratoga, Warren,
Washington, St. Lawrence.

Eric Bright
Robert Shepherd
Robert Shepherd
Coordinator for Northern Region
BOCES St. Lawrence/Lewis
Special Education Office
P.O. Box 330
Norwood, NY 13668

Allegany, Cattaraugus,
Chautauqua, Erie,
Genesee, Niagara,
Orleans, Wyoming.

Sandy Smith
716-878-7282, or
Sandy Smith
Early Childhood Direction Center
Robert Warner Rehabilitation Ctr
Children's Hospital of Buffalo
936 Delaware Avenue
Buffalo, NY 14209

Livingston, Monroe,
Ontario, Seneca, Wayne,

Eileen Collins
Therese Zona
716-377-4660 ext. 273
Therese Zona
Regional Coordinator for Transition Services
BOCES Monroe I
41 O'Connor Road
Fairport, NY 14450

Statewide Information Regarding Transition

Special Education Policies

Lawrence T. Waite
Nancy Lauria
NYS Education Department
Special Education Services
One Commerce Plaza, Room 1610
Albany, New York 12234

Phone 518-474-5548

Vocational Rehabilitation and Related Services

Debra A. Colley
Doris Jamison
NYS Education Department
One Commerce Plaza Room 1613
Albany, NY 12234


Mary Ann Van Alstyne
Laurie Munro
40 North Pearl Street
Albany, NY 12243



What are the State vocational rehabilitation agencies? The Office of Vocational and Educational Services for Individuals with Disabilities (VESID) and the Commission for the Blind and Visually Handicapped (CBVH) are the State agencies that provide vocational rehabilitation services to eligible individuals in keeping with the federal Rehabilitation Act Amendments of 1992. VESID and CBVH are similar in purpose and scope of services. They differ in who they serve: CBVH provides vocational rehabilitation services to youth and adults who are legally blind, who may also have additional disabilities, while VESID provides vocational rehabilitation services to individuals from all other disability groups.
What are the roles of VESID and CBVH? Services provided through VESID and CBVH assist individuals with disabilities to prepare for, enter, engage in or retain gainful employment. Vocational rehabilitation services include evaluations, vocational planning and counseling, skills development training, adaptive equipment, occupational tools, support services while completing training, and employment services such as job seeking skills, employment referrals and on-the-job services including job coaching or planning work site modifications. The services that an individual receives will vary depending on what is needed to achieve the planned employment outcome. The Individual Written Rehabilitation Program (IWRP) is the planning document that guides the delivery of vocational rehabilitation services. This document describes long term goals, intermediate objectives and services to meet the objectives. The IWRP is developed jointly by the counselor and the individual and may be amended as needs or circumstances change.
What are examples of VESID or CBVH services that might be provided for in-school youth? While an eligible student is still in school, the IWRP will be written to coordinate closely with the district IEP or guidance plan. VESID and CBVH provide services to in-school youth that do not duplicate services or programs that are mandated for districts to provide. Examples of services that VESID or CBVH may provide to in-school youth may include vocational guidance and counseling, resource information, and the preparation of post high school vocational rehabilitation service plans. Also, depending on individual needs or resource considerations, VESID or CBVH may be able to provide job related occupational tools, to purchase low vision aids, to purchase adaptive equipment for a personal auto to commute to employment, to assist in obtaining employment, including preparing certifications for Civil Service set-aside placements, to facilitate referral to summer employment, and to assist with the transition into extended supported employment.
How is eligibility determined? Eligibility is based on showing that the person has a disability that is a substantial impediment to employment, has the ability to benefit from VESID or CBVH services, and will require VESID or CBVH services to enable the person to achieve an appropriate employment outcome. VESID or CBVH staff assist applicants with the eligibility process, including obtaining further clarifying evaluations as may be needed. Although not every student who has a disability is eligible for VESID or CBVH services, the school's referral of relevant documents will greatly expedite the process for determining eligibility and planning appropriate vocational rehabilitation services for students.
Is family income a factor in determining eligibility? Family income is not a factor in determining eligibility. However, once it is decided that a person is eligible for VESID or CBVH services, funding for some services may be based on financial need. As an example, a family may be expected to share in the cost of college expenses. Examples of VESID or CBVH services that can be provided without considering economic need include services related to eligibility determination, service planning, vocational guidance and counseling, vocational assessment/evaluation, identification and referral to community services, and employment services.
How can districts identify students who may be appropriate to refer? Potential student referrals may be identified when the district's individual assessment and planning processes reveal that VESID or CBVH services will be necessary to help the student successfully achieve employment, either immediately upon leaving school or following additional vocational training or post-secondary education. Indicators for VESID or CBVH participation in planning for transition include:
  • the student's need for an in-school vocational rehabilitation service that is not mandated for districts to provide;
  • the student's need for adult vocational rehabilitation services after he/she completes the district program.
What are the criteria for making referrals to VESID or CBVH? The Joint Agreements Between the Office of Elementary, Middle, and Secondary Education (EMS), VESID and CBVH identify criteria for referring youth with disabilities to VESID or CBVH. Referrals to VESID or CBVH of a student with disabilities should be made when:
  1. The student is expected to exit school within two years;
  2. The school, student, and/or parents (or legal guardians) jointly recognize that the student's disability will interfere with the student's ability to work in the community and that adult vocational rehabilitation services are necessary to help the student successfully achieve employment; and
  3. The vocational rehabilitation services that the student requires are not available through programs and services mandated for the school to provide.

It is critical that the referral be the result of an active transition planning and service process. This is evident when:

  • For a special education student, transition services are indicated in the IEP; or
  • For a student with disabilities who is not receiving special education services, the student's annual guidance plan reflects desired adult outcomes, transition planning and services.

Parents and students can apply directly for services from CBVH or VESID without a referral from the school. If the student is 18 or older and has no legal guardian, the student can make this decision independently.

What is the process for making referrals to CBVH or VESID? When referring students to VESID or CBVH, the school district must ensure that certain steps have been followed:
  • Referrals from Committees on Special Education, guidance personnel or other school staff should be routed consistently through the building principal or his/her designee who is assigned to be the liaison with CBVH and VESID.
  • The referral is the result of a thorough assessment and planning process (e.g., annual guidance review or IEP annual review) that recommends adult vocational rehabilitation services are necessary to assist students with disabilities to successfully achieve adult employment.
  • Consent for referral and for release of information has been obtained by the school from the parent, legal guardian or from the student, as applicable.

The CSE or guidance counselor transmits through the building liaison complete referral information including:

  1. A referral transmittal sheet (see Appendix J) or letter that explains the purpose for the referral; and,
  2. Selected documents that describe the student's disability, needs, preferences, interests, and skills (e.g., interpersonal, work, academic, independent living). Preferred documentation is that which describes the student's current abilities, work-related limitations and service needs in functional terms that are relevant to vocational rehabilitation and achieving employment.
What are examples of the kinds of school documents that CBVH and VESID will find useful? To the maximum degree possible, instead of asking students to go for new assessments, information that already exists among school records will be used by VESID and CBVH to determine whether the student's circumstances meet eligibility criteria. Examples of documents for schools to selectively include in referral packages are listed below:
  • the most current IEP or guidance plan containing information about transition planning and services;
  • language proficiency assessment reports;
  • student medical and health screening reports, including the most current psychological, psychiatric, or other specialist's disability assessment, if available and relevant;
  • reports from related services interventions (e.g., occupational therapy, speech therapy, physical therapy, orientation and mobility instruction, rehabilitation teaching, or social work.)
  • reports indicating special equipment or other accommodations and/or behavioral supports needed.
  • indicators of academic achievement, such as transcripts, grades, academic achievement testing;
  • career assessment information including: Level I, II or III vocational assessment reports, work experience or work study progress reports, career assessment portfolios, mentor or work supervisor evaluations, occupational education assessment reports.
Where are local VESID and CBVH offices? Appendix J contains the referral transmittal sheet that can be used to transmit information to the local VESID or CBVH office. The list of these offices, their addresses, and other contact information is also listed in this Appendix.

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