Engage Alabama

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

The following are frequently asked questions.

Who is the EngageAL Transition app for? Who designed it?

The EngageAL Transition app is intended to serve as a guide to Alabama students, family members, and educators during the transition planning process. It is based on the requirements of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) - https://sites.ed.gov/idea/statuteregulations. As an Alabama student with a disability who may be turning 16 years (or earlier if appropriate), or entering 9th grade, or a family member of a transition age student, the EngageAL Transition app can help prepare for the Individualized Education Program (IEP) meeting where transition planning will be discussed. Individuals residing outside of Alabama may use this free app, but the information needed in other states may be different.

This app was originally designed by the Disability Rights Center of Kansas, a non-profit organization. The app was adapted by staff from the Alabama State Department of Education, the Alabama Department of Rehabilitation Services, the Alabama Developmental Disabilities Council and the Alabama Disabilities Advocacy Program, and designed to meet transition planning needs in Alabama.

What is a transition plan within the IEP?

A transition plan within the IEP is developed for students who will turn 16 (or earlier if appropriate) during the implementation dates of the IEP or who will be entering the 9th grade year during that time. It can also be addressed earlier where appropriate. Several portions of the IEP address transition. These pages include the Profile page, the Transition page, the Transition Annual Goal page, and the Services page. On the profile page of the IEP, the student’s strengths, interests, preferences and needs are addressed. Also, any recent age-appropriate transition assessment information is included. On the transition page of the IEP, the student’s course of study is identified, long-term goals are determined based upon age-appropriate transition assessments given for each of the three transition goal areas (Postsecondary Education/Training, Employment/Occupations/Careers, and Community/Independent Living). In addition, the anticipated date of graduation and a pathway to the diploma are identified. On the annual transition goal page of the IEP, the student’s present level of academic achievement and functional performance is written, and goals for the three areas of transition are written to address the student’s needs, preferences, and interests. Required activities for meeting each annual goal are also written. On the Services page of the IEP, the Special Education and Related Services needed for the student to achieve his or her goals are identified as they relate to transition. This transition plan is a legal part of the IEP and signed by the IEP Team, which includes the student and parent. For more information, see Mastering the Maze at the link below: http://www.alsde.edu/sec/ses/Policy/2018%20Mastering%20the%20Maze%20Process%201.pdf

What is an Age Appropriate Transition Assessment?

The Division on Career Development and Transition defines transition assessment as “an ongoing process of collecting data on the individual’s needs, preferences, and interests as they relate to the demands of current and future working, educational, living, and personal and social environments.” Transition assessments help the student learn more about what they would like to do after high school. The teacher may ask about the student’s goals after high school and what they are good at. A teacher might ask family members and other teachers about the student’s skills and interests. The student might complete a career assessment on the computer, such as the Kuder Career Assessments, try a few different jobs to see what skills, strengths and needs the student has in competitive integrated employment settings. They may also take academic assessments to help prepare for college. The transition plan within the IEP must be based on at least one recent age-appropriate transition assessment.

What are Transition Services?

Transition services are a part of the transition plan within the IEP. They are a set of coordinated activities completed while in school to help meet the student’s goals for after high school. These activities facilitate a successful movement from school to postsecondary living.

Beginning the year a student turns 16 (or earlier if appropriate) or enters 9th grade, the IEP must identify the transition services needed for that student and the person(s)/agency(ies) involved with the student to ensure goal completion. For more information see page 83 of Mastering the Maze at the link below: http://www.alsde.edu/sec/ses/Policy/2017%20Mastering%20the%20Maze%20Process%201.pdf

How long can transition services be provided through school?

Transition services are focused on the student’s needs, preferences and interests. Transition services begin through transition planning by a student’s 16th birthday (or earlier if appropriate) or the year they enter 9th grade in Alabama. Depending on their selected diploma pathway (Essentials or Alternate Achievement Standards Pathways), students in Alabama can continue to get transition services through the end of the school year in which they turn 21. The IEP Team must discuss the types of transition services needed and how long those services should be provided. For more information on this topic, see page 96 at the link below: http://www.alsde.edu/sec/ses/ts/Resources/Engagement%20Series%20Handbook%201Completed%20with%20page%20numbers.pdf

What services are available from the Alabama Department of Rehabilitation Services (ADRS)?

The Alabama Department of Rehabilitation Services (ADRS) program can provide many services and supports to help qualified students with disabilities move to adult life. ADRS assists with pre-employment and employment services to help prepare and plan for your life after high school. Along with counseling and guidance to help you prepare for your career, sometimes you may qualify for financial assistance to help pay for services such as technical school training, or expenses associated with college. Other services include help finding a job, training to develop new job skills, or assistance with work-related items – such as tools, work uniforms, assistive technology … and much more.

Prior to the IEP, you and your parents will be sent the Notice and Invitation to a Meeting/Consent for Agency Participation form where you must indicate consent for an ADRS counselor to attend your IEP Team meeting. At the IEP Team meeting, the counselor will provide information on ADRS services, and how you might benefit from these service.

How do I apply for the Alabama Department of Rehabilitation (ADRS) Services?

If the student wants to work and has a disability that makes it difficult for them to get or keep a job, they can apply for services with ADRS. They will need to meet with an ADRS counselor to complete the application process. To learn more about ADRS services, you can visit https://rehab.alabama.gov or contact your local ADRS office. If assistance is needed in finding the closest ADRS office, visit http://rehab.alabama.gov/Office-Locations or call 1-800-441-7607.

Who will provide services, the Alabama Department of Rehabilitation Services (ADRS) or Community Rehabilitation Providers (CRPs)?

ADRS is the agency the student meets with as they begin their employment journey and can help them prepare for and secure employment. ADRS provides some services directly, others may be provided by Community Rehabilitation Providers (CRPs) that ADRS works with. ADRS partners with CRP’s to provide students pre-employment transition services to help prepare for employment, assess their interests, explore career options and training that might be needed, and learn self-advocacy skills. Additionally, CRPs help students obtain and maintain employment.

What will change after high school?

After high school, the student has the right to reasonable accommodations at college and work under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. A college or university may not discriminate against an individual solely based on disability. They must provide reasonable accommodations to the student’s known disability. These accommodations must give the student an equal opportunity to participate in the school’s programs, activities, and services. This includes everything from the classroom to extracurricular activities. The ADA and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 provide students with disabilities powerful protections from discrimination. For more information visit, https://www.ada.gov and/or http://tinyurl.com/j5kjkrt

A student must have a mental or physical impairment that:

Students may be eligible to receive accommodations while in college, however schools may require evaluations from ADRS in order to receive these accommodations. The IEP developed in high school, including all accommodations provided, no longer applies for any training after high school.

Examples of accommodations might include:

Colleges do not have to modify class content or academic standards if it fundamentally alters their program. This simply means that colleges are not required to reduce their standards for grading or degree requirements because of a person’s disability. Colleges can request adequate medical documentation, or additional testing through ADRS or other sources, that documents the need for the requested accommodations. It is the student’s responsibility to provide this documentation.

The ADA helps individuals with disabilities get accommodations on the job. As an employee the individual must be able to complete the job tasks expected on the job, however if the individual needs assistance to complete the tasks, they can ask the employer for a job accommodation or a change in their job that will help them complete the job duties requested. An employer does not need to provide the individual with exactly what they want, but does need to provide the individual with some type of accommodation to meet their needs on the job.

How can the student be an effective advocate with the IEP Team?

The student should state what they want their goals to be and what they feel they need to meet those goals. Be clear. The only purpose of the IEP Team is to come up with an education program for the student. That means it is all about the student’s needs. The student should give the IEP Team examples of what they are asking for and how it will help them.

Remember that teamwork can help the student ask for what they want. Build strong relationships with IEP Team members. The IEP Team members have a lot of educational knowledge. The student is the expert about themselves. The student and their family members know the student’s needs and goals best. The student should respect school staff, but not be afraid to say what they want for their life.

Special education has many professional terms. These terms can be confusing and scary to students and parents. The student should ask the IEP Team to explain any term they do not understand. Remember, no one on the IEP Team knows the student’s needs, interests, likes, and goals better than the student and his or her family members.

Good transition planning requires the student and family to tell the IEP Team the student’s long-term plans and goals after high school. The more the student shares their post-school plans with the IEP Team, the better their transition goals will be.

Transition meetings must focus on what the student wants to do. It is about the student’s interests. The IEP team must listen to the student. Students may find it difficult to tell their interests, preferences, and goals for their future to the entire IEP Team. The family and student should work together to find the best way for the student to tell the IEP team what they want and need in order to move to adult life.

Here are some ideas for a student to get his or her points across to the IEP Team:

What can be expected when the student contacts the Alabama Department of Rehabilitation Services (ADRS)?

Some services with ADRS require eligibility. The following must be true for the student to receive services:

1. The student has a physical or mental impairment,

2. The impairment is a substantial impediment to employment, and

3. The student needs ADRS services to prepare for, secure, retain, or regain employment.

When the student is determined eligible, ADRS will provide a written plan to support job goals. Think of this plan as being similar to an Individualized Education Program (IEP) at school. The ADRS plan has a similar name, but a different purpose. This written plan is called an “IPE” Individual Plan for Employment (IPE). The IPE lists the specific job goal, services and service providers needed to help the student reach their employment goal.

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