Secondary Transition Services for Students with Disabilities

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VDOE's Transition Services website provides support, information and resources designed to improve the outcomes of students with disabilities in transition from middle / secondary education to postsecondary education and employment.

The key to successful transition is careful planning. Students must be actively involved in the planning process.


  • I'm DeterminedThe I’m Determined Project, a state-directed project funded by the Virginia Department of Education, focuses on providing direct instruction, models, and opportunities to practice skills associated with self-determined behavior. This project facilitates youth, especially those with disabilities to undertake a measure of control in their lives, helping to set and steer the course rather than remaining the silent passenger.

What is Transition?

Transition is the process students and their families use to think about life after high school, to identify their desired outcomes, and to plan their community and school experiences to assure that the students acquire the knowledge and skills to achieve their goals.

Why is Transition Important?

Steven Covey says to "begin with the end in mind." That idea is the heart of transition planning. If the "end" we have in mind is "educated employees," then the transition planning is the "beginning." It sets the education course for middle and secondary students with disabilities that leads to access to adult services, postsecondary education and the world of work. The idea of transition is simple, but actually carrying out the process can be daunting as we try to weave together the appropriate combination of educational and social services. The legislators who developed the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA PL 101-476) included transition components in the legislation with the goal of preparing students with disabilities to access the supports and services they need to become as independent as possible

How Do We Do Transition?

The transition planning process should enable the student to move successfully from school to postsecondary education and training, employment, independent living, and community participation based on the student's preferences, interests, and abilities.

Olmstead Act

On June 22, 1999, the United States Supreme Court determined that unjustified segregation of persons with disabilities constitutes discrimination under title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act. The Court held that public entities must provide community-based services to persons with disabilities when (1) the services are appropriate; (2) the persons affected do not oppose community-based treatment; and (3) community-based services can be reasonably accommodated. The Court explained that its holding "reflects two evident judgments." First, "institutional placement of persons who can handle and benefit from community settings perpetuates unwarranted assumptions that persons so isolated are incapable of or unworthy of participating in community life." Second, "confinement in an institution severely diminishes the everyday life activities of individuals, including family relations, social contacts, work options, economic independence, educational advancement, and cultural enrichment."

  • Olmstead Initiative: One Community – The Commonwealth has an obligation under the U.S. Supreme Court’s Olmstead v. L.C decision, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the Virginians with Disabilities Act to provide appropriate opportunities for people with disabilities to become fully integrated into the community if they choose to do so.
  • Virginia Department of Behavioral Health & Developmental Services – On July 1, 2016, the DBHDS Office of Mental Health (OMH) and Office of Substance Abuse Services (OSAS) merged to create the Office of Adult Community Behavioral Health (ACBH). The mission of ACBH is to work toward achieving the DBHDS vision of A Life of Possibility for All Virginians through system-level collaboration and promotion of a person-centered, recovery-oriented system of care that provides access to high-quality behavioral health services to citizens of the Commonwealth.

How Do We Know We Are Doing It Right?