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Transition Planning

Transition is the process of preparing young people with deafblindness to move successfully from a world they know to a world they don't. (PA Partnership for the Deafblind)

Transition planning helps youth with deafblindness get ready for college, vocational training, employment, and community life once they leave school. The Individuals with Disabilities Act mandates that it begin by the time a student turns 16 (some states require age 14), but because students with deafblindness have highly complex needs, many professionals recommend starting earlier (Zatta & McGinnity, 2016). It’s a highly individualized process that takes a team effort over a number of years. In addition to the student, family, and educational team members, it involves collaboration beyond the school system with relevant adult services such as vocational rehabilitation, developmental disabilities agencies, and agencies serving adults who are Deaf/hard of hearing or are blind or visually impaired. The inclusion of members with a strong understanding of deafblindness on the team is essential.

A girl who is deaf-blind is engaged in a lesson on how much things costs. She is in a wheelchair and is pointing to communication cards on which there are pictures of items and their prices.

Beyond formal transition planning, preparation for adult life really begins much earlier in a child’s life with activities that promote self-determination, establish community connections, and build skills that are needed for future employment and lifelong learning.

See also:

David Wiley explains why it's important during transition planning to systematically help students explore what adult life possibilities (e.g., careers, community involvement).


Pennsylvania Partnership for the Deafblind. (2010). Hopscotching your way through transition: Questions parents need to ask as their child with deafblindness moves from school to the adult world.

Statewide Parent Advocacy Network & Perkins School for the Blind. (2011). Transition to adult life for youth with deaf-blindness: A parent mini-guide.

Zatta, M., & McGinnity, B. (2016). An overview of transition planning for students who are deafblind. American Annals of the Deaf, 161(4), 474-485.


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