Skip to main content

Transition Home

The Transition Process

What Are Transition Services For Students In Special Education?

Transition services for students in special education are services that help students move from school to work and adult life. They should reflect the student's own goals for his/her future.

The law defines transition services as a coordinated set of activities for a student with a disability 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, or community participation;

Is based upon the individual student's needs, taking into account the student's preferences and interests; and

Includes instruction, related services, community experiences, the development or employment and other post-school adult living objectives, and, when appropriate, acquisition of daily living skills and functional vocational evaluation.

[20 U.S.C. Sec. 1401(30); C.F.R. Sec. 300.29(a).]

  • The completion of high school is the beginning of adult life. Entitlement to public education ends, and young people and their families are faced with many options and decisions about the future. The most common choices for the future are pursuing vocational training or further academic education, getting a job, and living independently.

    For students with disabilities, these choices may be more complex and may require a great deal of planning. Planning the transition from school to adult life begins, at the latest, during high school. In fact, transition planning is required, by law, to start once a student reaches 15 years of age, or younger, if appropriate. This transition planning becomes formalized as part of the student's Individualized Education Program (IEP).

    Transition services are intended to prepare students to make the transition from the world of school to the world of adulthood. In planning what type of transition services a student needs to prepare for adulthood, the IEP Team considers areas such as post-secondary education or vocational training, employment, independent living, and community participation. The transition services themselves are a coordinated set of activities that are based on the student's needs and that take into account his or her preferences and interests. Transition services can include instruction, community experiences, the development of employment and other post-school adult living objectives, and (if appropriate) the acquisition of daily living skills and functional vocational assessment.

    The student and his or her family are expected to take an active role in preparing the student to take responsibility for his or her own life once school is finished. Where once school provided a centralized source of education, guidance, transportation, and even recreation, after students leave school, they will need to organize their own lives and needs and navigate among an array of adult service providers and federal, state, and local programs. This can be a daunting task one for which the student and his or her family need to be prepared.

    For more information or any questions regarding Transition, please contact Caroline Wills, Mattituck Transition Coordinator at (631) 298-8471, extension 1501 or at


    The Harvard Family Research Project's April 2010 FINE Newsletter focuses on family engagement from birth through young adulthood. Featured articles highlight effective family engagement strategies for parents of adolescents and a Cincinnati, Ohio cradle-to-career system of support that includes family and community engagement. The newsletter can be found by clicking on this link.


    Ready, Set, Fly is a companion tool for the Casey Foundation's Life Skills Guide. It covers things such as money management, social skills, nutrition, self-care, work skills, housing and transportation, community resources, and learning about candidates in elections. This guide will help families help their young adults gain the skills they need to live as independently and as well as possible. 


    If you are providing care to an aging family member or friend who may have a disability, the Family Care Navigator website can help you find government, nonprofit and private programs in your state that can assist you. Simply select your state on the map or scroll through the list of states located at the bottom of the page. This website also includes information on government health and disability programs, legal resources, disease-specific organizations and more. For more information go to the Family Care Navigator website.


    Written by Robin Cooper, NASDDDS Director of Technical Assistance, this study of the practice of paying family members to provide support in state Developmental Disabilities Systems provides an over view of federal policy on paying relatives, includes the results of a national survey of state DD agency policies and practices, summarizes and analyzes key issues and offers guidance on quality assurance practices.

  • REFERENCE POINTS is administered by PACER Center as a technical assistance activity of the TATRA Project.

    The TATRA Project is funded by the Rehabilitation Services Administration.

    Readers are invited to send information about new resources on secondary education, transition and vocational rehabilitation topics to

    Reference Points received initial support from the National Center on Secondary Education and Transition.

    Visit their web site for a wealth of information related to secondary education and transition for youth with disabilities.

    Note: There are no copyright restrictions on this document. However, please credit the source and support of federal funds when copying all or part of this material.

  • Please click on the link for important and timely information regarding graduation requirements for students with disabilities. Examples include a summary chart of the Diploma/Credential Requirements. This chart is also translated into five languages.

  • Suffolk County Accessible Transportation (SCAT)

    Director for People with Disabilities

    North County Complex, Bldg. 158
    725 Veterans Memorial Hwy.
    P.O. Box 6100
    Hauppauge, NY 11788-0099

    (631) 853-8333 (voice)
    (631) 853-8339 (fax)
    (631) 853-5658 (TTY)

    Link to SCAT website

    To apply for Suffolk County Accessible Transportation (SCAT), call (631) 853-8333, and ask for a SCAT application. They will mail you a paper copy of the application, which you will then mail back.

  • Guide to Understanding NYS OPWDD Supports & Services

    Developed by Parent to Parent of NYS to inform families about the wide range of services available to qualified individuals and to assist them in accessing those services for their loved one with a developmental disability.

    Will your child need OPWDD services and supports in the future? Learn about transition planning now