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 transitional programming.

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.

Identification

--Career awareness --Referral to assessment

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 modification

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

Employment Services

--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 students

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 local levels.

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 policymakers.

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.

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