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Disability Rights of West Virginia

Transition Services for Students and Youth with Disabilities

Article by Sherill Hoffman, DRWV Advocate

Transitioning into adulthood can be an exciting and stressful time for all students. Plans for post-secondary education, living arrangements, and career planning are on the minds of students, parents, and educational professionals throughout a student's high school career. For students with disabilities, there can be an additional layer of planning that can become overwhelming. Understanding a student's rights and the process of proper transition planning can help ease minds and help prepare individuals with disabilities for a successful transition into adult life.

Transition Plan

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 require transition services be available to students and youth with disabilities (OSERS, 2020). Transition services are coordinated and collaborative activities with a person-centered, outcome-driven process that depends on student and family involvement, the local vocational rehabilitation agency, and the school. A transition plan is to be included in a student's individualized education program (IEP) by the time they turn sixteen and can begin earlier if deemed appropriate by the IEP Team. The plan should include post-secondary goals based upon assessments related to training, education, employment, and, if needed, independent living skills such as self-advocacy and finance management. Additionally, a list of services, including courses of study, will assist the individual with a disability in obtaining post-secondary goals (OSERS, 2020).


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The student should be at the center of transition planning. The team should consider interests, strengths, needs, and preferences throughout the transition process. Students should attend IEP meetings. If a student cannot participate, efforts should be made to ensure the student is at the center of the conversation. Understanding what a person hopes to achieve after high school is essential, increasing chances for success.

Questions to think about
when Creating a Transition Plan

  • Does the student want to attend college or a vocational program?

  • Which career path does the student want to take?

  • How can the team ensure integrated work (including supported employment)?

  • What are the student’s goals for independent living, and which services and supports may be needed?

  • What additional support and services will be required to create a successful transition plan?

Agencies that offer Transition Services

In West Virginia, the Division of Rehabilitation Services (WVDRS) is the vocational rehabilitation agency for individuals with disabilities who want to work. Each school in West Virginia has assigned counselor(s) to assist in identifying students who would benefit from transition services. It is also vital for the IEP team to invite WVDRS to the conversation as WVDRS can provide a wide range of services, such as:

  • Vocational and educational planning

  • Career counseling and guidance

  • Work-related training and education

  • Workplace assessments and accommodations

  • Job coaching

  • Supported employment

  • Assistive technology assessments and equipment

WVDRS is also able to provide pre-employment transition services (pre-ETS). Pre- ETS are collaborative efforts between the school and WVDRS. These services are available for ages 14 to 21 and include job exploration and counseling, which helps students learn about potential careers and the necessary training. Participating in work-based learning experiences helps transition youth to learn about a workplace, including job shadowing and mentoring opportunities. Pre-ETS include counseling on programs that assist a student in planning post-secondary education and training. This can include workplace readiness which helps to develop independent living, social, and self-advocacy skills, which allow a person with a disability to learn how to represent themselves (WVDRS, 2023). Pre-ETS can help create the framework for a successful transition plan.

Disability Rights of West Virginia (DRWV) is West Virginia's federally mandated protection and advocacy system for people with disabilities.  DRWV advocates for transition services and employment for individuals with disabilities. The Client Assistance Program (CAP) advocates for individuals who receive or need services from the WVDRS.

Examples of CAP advocacy include assistance with applying for vocational rehabilitation services, issues related to a counselor and client relationship, and working to ensure a person receives appropriate support and services from WVDRS to help them achieve their goals for employment.

To learn more about DRWV please visit our website at  or request additional information or support regarding transition services, call us for an intake at 304-346-0847 or 1-800-642-8207.


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