ERIC Identifier: ED259217
Publication Date: 1985-00-00
Author: Naylor, Michele
Source: ERIC Clearinghouse on
Adult Career and Vocational Education Columbus OH.
Role of Vocational Education in Transition Services for
Handicapped Youth. Overview. ERIC Digest No. 47.
All students, whether handicapped or not, make numerous adjustments or
transitions. During the course of their schooling, they must learn to cope with
differences in classes, grades, schools, and programs. Ultimately, they must
move from the fairly sheltered environment of school into the more competitive
world of work.
Goldstein (1982) points out that this school-to-work transition is
particularly difficult for mildly handicapped individuals for three reasons: (1)
recent technological advances have dramatically reduced the number of unskilled
and semiskilled jobs that have typically been held in the past by mildly
disabled individuals; (2) academic, behavorial, and social handicaps place
disabled workers at a particular disadvantage during times of high unemployment;
and (3) the "invisibility" of mild handicaps often causes employers to develop
unrealistic expectations of mildly handicapped workers.
HOW CAN TRANSITION BE FACILITATED?
Corthell and Van Boskirk (1984) view the vocational development of students
with disabilities in terms of a "service-outcome continuum" throughout which
students receive progressively less vocational support as they develop greater
vocational independence. The primary providers of transition services are
special education, vocational education, and vocational rehabilitation; however,
parents and the business sector can also function as key partners in cooperative
At a June 1984 conference on the school-to-work transition of disabled
students (A REPORT ON THE NATIONAL CONFERENCE ON TRANSITION FOR YOUTH WITH
HANDICAPPING CONDITIONS TO WORK 1984), a series of recommendations were proposed
whereby transition services would begin at the elementary school level in the
form of assessment and identification of students with handicapping conditions
and career awareness activities. They would continue beyond the secondary grades
in the form of postsecondary-level programming or follow-up counseling after
students had been placed in jobs.
WHAT IS THE ROLE OF VOCATIONAL EDUCATION IN TRANSITION SERVICES?
Corthell and Van Boskirk (1984) discuss specific transition-related services
that vocational education can provide in the following categories.
--Career awareness --Referral to assessment
--Provision of prevocational exploration programming --Identification of
competencies needed for vocations
Individualized Program Planning
--Development of Instructional Implementation Plans (IIPs) --Consultation
with students and parents --Participation in Individualized Education Program
(IEP) and Individualized Written Rehabilitation Plan (IWRP) development
Program Implementation and Training Activities
--Provision of regular, modified, or special vocational instruction
--Development of career and prevocational programs --Curriculum development and
Service Delivery System
--Provision of special support staff (aides, tutors, and paraprofessionals),
special services (interpreters, notetakers, and reader services for the blind),
and special student-loaned tools, devices, and equipment --Participation in
cooperative education programs (on-the-job training) --Ongoing evaluation of
services and student programs --Participation in employer curriculum review
committees --Provision of vocational guidance and counseling
--Design and implementation of work experience programs --Delivery of job
development, placement, and follow-up services
Architectural Barrier Removal
--Modification of vocational school facilities to accommodate special needs
WHAT ARE SOME OF THE BENEFITS OF COORDINATING SERVICES?
Corthell and Van Boskirk (1984) also list 29 services to be provided by
special education and 23 that are the province of vocational rehabilitiation.
Ashby and Bensberg (1981) list the following reasons for developing
cooperative agreements among the three disciplines that normally provide job
training to handicapped youth: improvement of services to clients or students,
legislative mandates requiring an agency to take advantage of services available
through other sources before using its own resources, sharing of information and
state-of-the-art approaches to services, cost sharing and savings, reduction of
gaps in services, elimination of duplication, the need for maintaining
continuity in services to clients, and the necessity of joint political action.
WHAT ARE SOME CURRENT PROBLEMS IN COORDINATING SERVICES?
Several major barriers to coordination still exist at the Federal, State, and
Problems Relating to Federal Legislation
Ashby and Bensberg (1981) suggest that certain legislative provisions --
namely, the mandate of P.L. 94-142 to special education, the "similar benefits"
provision of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 requiring that vocational
rehabilitation make certain that needed services for resources are not available
from other agencies before its own funds can be expended, and the stipulation in
section 401.13 of the Vocational Rehabilitation Regulations that funds spent for
rehabilitation services must be under the control or administration of the State
vocational rehabilitation agency (as opposed to "third-party" funds) -- have led
many State vocational rehabilitation agencies to reduce their role in supporting
high school vocational programs.
Problems Relating to Gaps in or Duplication of Services
Participants in the 1984 conference on transition for youth with handicapping
conditions (A REPORT ON THE NATIONAL CONFERENCE ON TRANSITION FOR YOUTH 1984)
devised a set of recommendations directed toward Federal, State, and local
Included among the specific recommendations drafted at the conference were
the following. First, State offices of special education, vocational education,
and vocational rehabilitation should develop uniform definitions and eligibility
criteria and should establish policies to encourage joint development of
standardized, statewide curricula that would provide a comprehensive,
articulated program of training in transition skills beginning with career
awareness programming at the elementary grades and continuing on through the
postsecondary level and after job placement.
Second, representatives from all three program areas should be jointly
responsible for development of IEPs and IWRPs and for the design of needed
syllabi and instructional materials. Third, pre- and inservice training for
practitioners in all three service areas should require training and competency
in each of the other two respective program areas to enable practitioners to
understand the capacities and limitations of the other sectors to provide
transition services complementing their own.
Problems Related to Obtaining Increased Cooperation of Business
As Goldstein (1982) points out, the cooperation of business is crucial to the
success of transitional services for two reasons: business and its
representatives on vocational advisory councils "provide a source of expertise
to the schools regarding the world of work that students are being prepared to
enter," and, as a provider of jobs to handicapped students, business represents
the final link in the chain of school-to-work transition services.
Problems Related to Linkage at a One-to-One Level
Corthell and Van Boskirk (1984) propose detailed guidelines for dealing with
the issues of personal power and authority and establishing working teams, and
the evaluators of Project Workability (PROJECT WORKABILITY EVALUATION REPORT
1983) recognize the importance of resolving "turf" issues and misunderstandings
over individual limitations and priorities.
WHAT ARE SOME EXEMPLARY TRANSITION SERVICES PROJECTS?
Programs incorporating the "continuum of services" outlined by Corthell and
Van Boskirk (1984) and successfully addressing the problems examined in the
preceding section do exist and have been described in the literature on
transition services. Project Workability (1983) is one example of an integrated
statewide transition service delivery system.
Descriptions of the models for collaborative transition services currently in
operation in Maryland, Michigan, and New York also are available (A REPORT ON
THE NATIONAL CONFERENCE ON TRANSITION FOR YOUTH 1984). In addition, Ashby and
Bensberg (1981) have identified 10 exemplary models of interagency cooperation
and coordination of transition services for disabled youth.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Ashby, S., and G. J. Bensberg, eds. COOPERATIVE OCCUPATIONAL PREPARATION OF
THE HANDICAPPED. EXEMPLARY MODELS. Lubbock: Research and Training Center in
Mental Retardation, Texas Tech University, 1981. ED 213 928.
Corthell, D. W., and C. Van Boskirk. CONTINUUM OF SERVICES: SCHOOL TO WORK.
Menomonie: Research and Training Center, Stout Vocational Rehabilitation
Institute, University of Wisconsin-Stout, 1984. ED 256 906.
Goldstein, M. T. A REGIONAL MODEL TO PROMOTE LINKAGES TO SUPPORT VOCATIONAL
EDUCATION FOR THE HANDICAPPED. West Orange, NJ: Educational Improvement
Center/Northeast, 1982. ED 223 791.
PROJECT WORKABILITY EVALUATION REPORT. Sacramento: California State
Department of Education, California State Department of Employment Development,
and California State Department of Rehabilitation, 1983. ED 240 350.
A REPORT ON THE NATIONAL CONFERENCE ON TRANSITION FOR YOUTH WITH HANDICAPPING
CONDITIONS TO WORK, COORDINATION OF STATE POLICIES AND PRACTICES. Albany: New
York State Education Department, 1984. ED 252 662.