Wouldn’t it be ideal if the culmination of secondary education for all students and youth with disabilities was a job and a clear career path? That is, as youth make the transition from being students to young adults the ideal would be that they move seamlessly from being a student to being an employed young adult and/or to being an enrollee in post-secondary education and training that will lead to a meaningful job and career. This is indeed the gold standard of transition outcomes. The activities of transition and employment initiatives, and the partnerships that support them, are most appropriately judged against this standard.

With what we now know, there is no reason not to expect this to be the desired outcome for every student who receives special education services in today’s high schools. In fact, there is an increasing body of research that suggest that not only can this be the prevailing norm, but we are becoming increasingly aware of what makes this possible for every student and youth, regardless of the disability label, the nature of the disability, and the need for support and accommodation.

What really works so that students with disabilities seamlessly transition to adult employment? What does research say? How can what research says be translated into everyday practice? In other words, how can we take what we know to have the most influence on successful adult employment for youth with disabilities and apply it to education and transition service to these youth? How can we organize education and transition service for those youth who will need support to find and keep jobs, and who will need various levels of support during their employment careers? Good questions, all!

This Toolkit intends to address these questions. It is designed to help people in the field – teachers, transition professionals, rehabilitation counselors, adult employment service professionals, families and youth – make this happen, particularly for those youth who will need the most support during their transition and beyond. The contents are derived from research conducted by the Center for Transition to Employment for Youth with Disabilities (the Center), other related research, and extensive experience in the field by the authors in applying this research. As we examine this research we can see a clearer picture of what it takes to promote successful and seamless transition to employment.