School to Work

The Transition from School to Work

What happens when high school is over? Students with disabilities leave high school when they earn a regular high school diploma, or at the end of the school year in which your child turns 21. If they are unable to participate in general education programs, they may leave high school with an “IEP Diploma” based on successful completion of their Individualized Educational Plan.

During the last two years of school-based programs, youth with disabilities can contact ACCES-VR (formerly VESID) New York State’s Vocational Rehabilitation center. During the transition process, a pre-vocational or career development plan and assessment can be requested (26).

Each adolescent or young adult with a medically fragile conditions is different – opportunities will vary depending on many factors, including academics, career and technical skills and specialized training, talents, abilities, interests, medical support needs, and individual choices. Job readiness, internships, volunteer work, vocational and employment services can all help a young person with disabilities and medically fragile conditions prepare for, find and keep employment that is a good fit. Working can help strengthen health and wellness, improve self-esteem, and increase productivity and independence.


Young adults with disabilities have more and more employment choices. There are many different jobs, and work settings available. Other factors include hours, location, healthcare needs, and special environmental factors. The most important questions to ask young people include what type of work do they want to do and in what kind of work setting?

Type of work setting and supports for people with disabilities. Vocational and career services could include: (25)

  • School to Work Transition
  • Post-secondary support
  • Supported employment
  • Sheltered employment in a center-based vocational rehabilitation center
  • Job coaching to support a person in competitive job placement
  • Counseling and guidance
  • On-the-Job Training
  • Work Readiness Training
  • Work Adjustment Training
  • Vocational and Technical Training
  • Deaf, Blind and Deaf/Blind Services
  • Assistive Work Technology
  • Resume and job interview preparation
  • Job accommodations needed to maintain employment

Competitive Employment: The worker is paid equally to other people doing the same job and is in a setting with people with and without disabilities. The person is a full employee of the business. The person could receive support from a job coach, and employers may receive temporary incentives.

Customized Employment: A disability service provider helps to identify and match the specific skills of the job seeker with a disability with the needs of a business interested in hiring a person with a disability. Job coaching and other temporary incentives may be available.

Supported Employment: A person is helped to find a job that matches their interests and skills, learn the job, and continue to receive support with increasing independence until the work is mastered. This service is for people who have never worked or who have not worked in a long time.

Self-Employment: This is a growing area of interest and can be a small business or consultant service that is run or owned by the person. .

Community Based Employment is work that takes place in a business in the community, but the individual is paid by the disability service provider that coordinates and manages the work. An Enclave is community based employment where a group of people with disabilities work at a business with direct support and supervision from a service provider Workers are usually paid below minimum wage through the service provider.

Sheltered Work is work managed through a disability service provider and may be called center–based work or vocational rehabilitation. This employment service offers individuals with disabilities specific work skills, and is paid by the service provider less than minimum wage.