May 2021, Vol. 7, No. 3
RAISE The Standard Newsletter
Raising the Standard for Young Adults with Disabilities
Technical Assistance and Resources for RSA-funded
Parent Training and Information Centers

Transition During a Pandemic

As the second COVID-19 school year comes to an end, many parents and school leaders are asking whether students have met the goals and objectives in their Individual Education Program (IEP). For students expected to graduate this year, these questions are particularly urgent:

  1. Has the student received all the services in their IEP?
  2. Has the student met the goals and objectives in their IEP?
  3. Were necessary transition services delivered as expected?
  4. Is the student really ready to for the post-secondary programs, work, independence, and activities we planned for?

Throughout the pandemic, schools have offered remote, hybrid, and in-person services, depending on schools’ response plans and local health conditions. As a result, it may or may not have been possible for a district to effectively deliver all special education services set forth in a student’s IEP. And the services may not have led to the outcomes expected.

  • How does a student who has missed out on two years of community-based learning, internships, hands on job training prepare to gradate during a pandemic?
  • Can they possibly be “ready?”
Coming Out of COVID
How do we make the shift from quarantine to “new normal?” We love this video (and the cool Aussie accent) from Next Steps in New Hampshire.

Teen Voices: Coping with the Pandemic

Hear from teens about how they cope with the pandemic, and their concerns:

“Biggest challenge is finding my motivation.”

“I worry I will come out of this missing a lot of necessary things I need as an adult.”


This hour-long chat with the YEAH Council (Youth for Education, Advocacy, and Healthcare) captures the experiences of youth with disabilities as they chat candidly about transition learning during COVID-19.

Outta Bed for Class? Or Not?

Keynote speaker Polly Bath (wearing her purple silk jammies) talks about getting ready to learn, and how to pick battles in the virtual learning environment.

Returning to Work During COVID

This video by Indeed, the giant job search platform, offers some advice for employees who may be returning to work during COVID.

Trauma-Sensitive Approaches

This webinar, Feeling Safe and Supported While Learning at Home, produced by the Committee for Children, provides a comprehensive overview of trauma-sensitive practices during COVID-19.

What are signs of stress?

  1. Physical or psychological distress, such as headaches, stomach aches, or difficulty sleeping, and avoidance, such as withdrawal or shutting down.
  2. Increased anxiety, irritability, anger, or fear.
  3. Depressed mood or negative beliefs.
  4. Changes in behavior, including an increase in self-destructive behavior, risk-taking, or a drop in engagement.

The Hiring Chain: “Because the Baker Hired Simone”

With more than a quarter of a million views, this video produced by the World Down Syndrome Association (and sung by singer-songwriter Sting) is getting traction. Share this with employers in YOUR area.

Did you know that by hiring someone with disabilities, employers start a virtuous chain: the more that people with disabilities are seen at work, the more they’ll be recognized as valuable employees, and the more they’ll be hired. Now, when someone asks, “Hey, have you seen the new Sting video on employment?” you can say, “Yes!”

VR Act Turns 100

In 2020, the Vocational Rehabilitation Act (VR Act) celebrated a century in action. President Woodrow Wilson signed the Smith-Fess Act, also known as the Industrial Rehabilitation Act and referred to as “The National Civilian Vocational Rehabilitation Act,” into law June 2, 1920. The Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA) plays a key leadership role through its resources and technical assistance to state vocational rehabilitation programs and others. Want to learn more about the RSA, the VR Act, and its evolution over the last 100 years?

Employment Preparation in the Virtual World

Leaders at the Transition Coalition have produced a webinar to examine how best to prepare youth with disabilities for transition through work-based learning during the pandemic. In this hour-long event, speakers Michael Stoehr (NTACT) and Brenda Simmons (WINTAC) provide guidance, ideas, and resources for engaging students in meaningful employment preparation activities during school and community closures.

The Same Rules Apply

The USDOE has not waived ANY transition-related requirements during COVID, so while many people are looking for COVID-specific resources, generic transition resources remain an important framework for what needs to be provided. This student-friendly document, produced by Partners Resource Network in Texas in collaboration with OSPE and Family Voices, is packed with great information.


We love this well-curated compilation of resources from the National Technical Assistance Center on Transition (NTACT), including their recorded webinars on Transition and suggested IEP considerations.

Working from Home

Many people find the transition from a traditional work setting to a “work from home” arrangement to be a challenge. Here are some tips to keep productivity, attention, energy, and mood UP.

  1. Start early. Set an alarm, get up, and go to work!
  2. Shower and get dressed for work. Showing up in your PJs may be fun for a day, but it does not send the message that you are in “work mode.”
  3. Find a designated place to work. The couch or your bed is NOT that place. Make a daily and weekly plan of what you will do, and when you will do it. Try to get your “high intensity” work done early. Plan to take meetings and calls later in the day, after your focused work is done
  4. Check email once or twice a day. That’s it. No more.
  5. Take breaks every 45 minutes. Get up, stretch, grab a cup of coffee.
  6. Take a lunch break. Do not eat at your desk or workspace.
  7. Check in with co-workers to maintain social connections. Meet with colleagues for a “virtual lunch,” take a walk (virtual), or just chat on the phone.
  8. If you are “Zoomed Out,” consider taking a Zoom meeting as audio only. Move to a new room or outdoors to give yourself a change of scenery.
  9. At the end of your work day, for goodness sake, STOP WORKING.
  10. Give yourself a short “commute” at the end of the day. Get outside. Take a walk around the block. Creating a short “ritual” to distance yourself from work can help you make the transition back to “home” and, literally, leave work behind.

Removing Barriers

This booklet outlines ways to remove barriers to effective distance learning for youth with disabilities. Covering topics like student engagement, connection, workload, technology, family engagement, and more, this 20-page booklet offers concrete strategies to help parents and educators overcome some of the biggest challenges in distance learning.

COVID and Transition to Adulthood

RAISE blogger Jessica Keogh points out a silver lining in the COVID experience: it has brought to light the struggles people with disabilities have been facing on a continuing basis.

“With the pandemic, my care schedule was thrown off as many were uncertain of the implications of the virus.”
-   Jessica Keogh

May 19, 20, 21
Association on Higher Education and Disability (AHEAD) 2021 Spring Colloquium.

July 19–23
Association on Higher Education and Disability (AHEAD) Equity and Excellence International Conference, Austin, Texas: a live and in-person event with virtual conference following.

Collaboration • Empowerment • Capacity-building

RAISE The Standard enewsletter identifies and shares resources that the Rehabilitation Services Administration Parent Training and Information Centers (RSA-PTI) can use and share with families.
Executive Editor:
Josie Badger
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The RAISE Technical Assistance Center is working to advance the accessibility of its digital resources, including its websites, enewsletters and various digital documents.
RAISE, the National Resources for Access, Independence, Self-Advocacy and Employment is a user-centered technical assistance center that understands the needs and assets of the RSA-PTIs, coordinates efforts with the Technical Assistance provided by PTI centers and involves RSA-PTIs as key advisors and partners in all product and service development and delivery.
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RAISE is funded by the US Department of Education to provide technical assistance to, and coordination of, the 7 PTI centers (RSA-PTIs). It represents collaboration between the nation's two Parent Technical Assistance Centers (PTACs) and the seven Regional PTIs.