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RAISE The Standard, September 2022, v.8 n.8

RAISE (The National Resources for Access, Independence, Self-determination and Employment (RAISE) Technical Assistance Center) logo

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young man in full employment working at a computer with assistive technologies

Real Jobs, Real Wages: “Employment First”

Many young adults with disabilities exit school and “transition” into a state-funded day program or sheltered employment situation. And once there, it is hard to get out. In this issue of RAISE The Standard, we explore what it means to be meaningfully employed, and the supports it takes to get there.

Cartoon Drawing of man highlighting a title Top Ten ways to Change the Outcomes

This short 3-minute video produced by the Center for Transition Innovations in Virginia, offers ten quick tips on helping students reach their employment goals.

Click here to view the Center for Transition Innovations video now.


Hispanic male young adult describing causes of his success in his current job

This engaging Public Service Announcement, “Because,” urges high expectations for youth with disabilities.

Click here to view the PSA now.

You can also download the tool kit for the information campaign.


push pin with face and talking bubble

Join the Movement

At work, it’s what people CAN do that matters. That’s the simple message behind the Campaign for Disability Employment (CDE)—a U.S. Department of Labor-sponsored public awareness campaign highlighting the value and talent people with disabilities add to America’s workplaces and economy.

A collaborative of leading disability and business organizations, the CDE offers tools and resources to support its efforts to promote the hiring, retention and advancement of people with disabilities. These include CDE support badges that users can display on their websites and blogs, an award-winning series of television public service announcements (PSAs), posters, discussion guides and more. Users can access these features by clicking Join The Movement on the navigation bar of the CDE’s website:

If you want to be part of the CDE movement, here are seven things you can do right now:

  1. Get Social. Follow the CDE on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and other platforms.
  2. Subscribe to the CDE. Stay current on CDE news, products and events by subscribing to its e-alerts. You can do so on the home page of its website,
  3. Play and Distribute Its PSAs. Embed the CDE’s flagship media products on your website, share them via social media and use the sample letter on the website to request the PSAs air in your hometown.
  4. Download and Use CDE Resources. Check out the free posters, web banners, print ads, ready-to-publish articles and discussion guides designed to help you facilitate conversations about the CDE’s powerful PSAs.
  5. Engage in CDE Dialogues. From Twitter chats and blogs to photo-sharing campaigns, the CDE engages in interactive conversation-starters. Join in!
  6. Become a CDE Supporter. Adopt the CAN-do spirit and proactively engage in CDE outreach. “Supporters” of the campaign may be recognized on the CDE website.
  7. Foster Disability Inclusion. Take steps now to support the hiring, retention and promotion of employees with disabilities. Visit the CDE website for links to valuable tools and resources designed for employers, people with disabilities, family members and educators.


Graphic of man behind glass board of symbols pointing to a shape with the word "Assessment" in it

Transition Assessment

To learn more about this aspect of planning the transition from school to meaningful employment, we turned to information from the National Secondary Transition Technical Assistance Center (NSTTAC).

Q: What does IDEA say about Transition Assessment?

A: Beginning not later than the first IEP to be in effect when a student turns 16 (or younger if determined appropriate by the IEP Team) the IEP must include appropriate measurable postsecondary goals based upon “age-appropriate transition assessments related to training, education, employment, and, where appropriate, independent living skills” [§300.320 (b) (1)]. (NOTE: Some states have regulations that implement transition services at age 14 rather than 16. Source

Q: What is an “age-appropriate transition assessment?”

A: The term is not defined in the law. The Division on Career Development and Transition (DCDT) of the Council for Exceptional Children defined the term as:

“...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.

Q: What types of assessments can be used?

A: Transition assessments can be formal or informal. Formal assessments use a standardized procedure/test/process for administering, scoring, and interpreting an assessment. This allows a student’s score to be interpreted relative to other students. Informal assessments are less structured and do not allow comparison with other students. They can be used to assess a student’s performance over time, and can help plan and evaluate instructional interventions. They can also include information from parents, teachers, employers and others who know the student. Whatever type of transition assessments are used, it is important that none alone be viewed as a predictor of success or failure. Assessment data should ALWAYS be compared with other data, including abilities and interests.

Q: What are some types of formal assessments?

A: Formal assessments can include:

  • Adaptive behavior/daily living skills assessments, which can help determine the type and amount of assistance that a student with disabilities may need.

  • Aptitude tests, which can be used to measure a specific skill or ability.

  • Intelligence tests, which can be used to assess a student's cognitive performance.

  • Achievement tests, which can measure learning of academic skills. Results can be linked to occupational requirements and can identify potential areas needing remediation.

  • Temperament inventories, which can help identify students’ dispositions towards various types of careers and work.

  • Career maturity or employability tests, which can assess developmental stages or tasks on a continuum.

  • Self-determination assessments, which can provide information about a student’s readiness to make and communicate decisions related to their interests, preferences and desires.

  • Transition planning inventories, which can help identify transition strengths and needs in various aspects of adult living, including employment, postsecondary schooling and training, independent living, interpersonal relationships, and community living.

Q: What are some types of informal assessments?

A: Informal assessments may include:

Interviews and questionnaires, which can determine a student’s strengths, needs, preferences, and interests relative to anticipated post-school outcomes.

Direct observation of student performance at school, on the job, or in a postsecondary or community setting. Sometimes called “community-based or situational assessment” direct observation data typically includes task analytic data of steps in completing a task, work behaviors.

Curriculum-based assessments designed by educators can be used to gather information about a student’s performance and develop instructional plans.

Environmental analysis (sometimes referred to as ecological assessment and/or job analysis) which involves examining environments where activities normally occur.

Q: How can assessment results be used to plan transition services?

A: Transition assessments should:

  • Guide and inform realistic and meaningful IEP goals and objectives.
  • Guide lesson plans and instructional decisions.
  • Provide information for the present level of performance (PLEP) related to a student’s strengths, interests, preferences, and needs.
  • Provide information about the student’s strengths outside of academics and their career ambitions.
  • Help students make a connection between their academic learning and their ambitions beyond school.
  • Inform the Summary of Performance.

To read the full paper from NSTTAC, click here

To access the National Technical Assistance Center on Transition’s Transition Assessment Toolkit, click here.

Want even more information? We love this easy to use Guide for Developing Postsecondary Goals and Transition Services produced by Virginia Commonwealth University, School of Education (VCU) under a contract from the Virginia Department of Education. It focuses on the Transition Assessment process and includes a decision tree to help direct the process.

Click here to access the guide.


Q: What is "Employment First?"

A: “Employment First” is a national systems-change framework centered on the premise that all individuals—including people with the most significant disabilities—are capable of full participation in Competitive Integrated Employment (CIE) and community life. Under this approach, publicly-financed systems align policies, regulatory guidance, and reimbursement structures to commit to CIE as the priority option with respect to the use of publicly-financed day and employment services for youth and adults with significant disabilities. Embedded in this system change framework are the core beliefs that:

  1. Competitive employment in the general workforce is the first and preferred post-education outcome for people with any type of disability.
  2. People with disabilities are “ready” to work as soon as they express an interest in doing so.
  3. All people with disabilities can and should work.

Q: What is Competitive Integrated Employment (CEI?)

A: CEI is work that is performed on a full-time or part-time basis for which an individual with disabilities is:

  • Compensated at or above minimum wage and comparable to the customary rate paid by the employer to employees without disabilities performing similar duties and with similar training and experience;
  • Receiving the same level of benefits provided to other employees without disabilities in similar positions;
  • At a location where the employee interacts with other individuals without disabilities; and,
  • Presented opportunities for advancement similar to other employees without disabilities in similar positions.

Q: How many states are “Employment First” states?

A: Many states have formally committed to the “Employment First” framework through executive proclamation or legislative action. As RAISE goes to press, thirty-eight states have an official “Employment First” policy based on legislation, policy directive, executive order or other official effort.

Q: How can my state get technical assistance to advance “Employment First”?

A: The Office of Disability Employment Policy has created the Employment First State Leadership Mentoring Program. This program consists of federal officials working directly with state officials to help states put all the proper resources in place to make sure that Employment First can become a reality for the disabled residents of those interested states.

Here are the stated objectives of the Employment First State Leadership Mentoring program:

  1. Give mentoring, technical assistance, and training to states so subject matter experts can help states transform their public policies to support the Employment First approach;
  2. Provide virtual training on best practices;
  3. Facilitate an ongoing dialogue on improving rollout and administration of the state’s Employment First program;
  4. Connect states with each other to foster more efficient and effective Employment First results; and
  5. Help evaluate the efficacy of each state’s Employment First systems to overcome challenges and better meet the goals of the Employment First initiative.

Click here to learn more about "Employment First."


Josie Badger, RAISE blog article author

In this issue of RAISE The Standard, we look back into our blog archives to a piece by Josie Badger, Significantly Able to Work: Employment for the Significantly Disabled. She writes about her journey to full employment – and the public policy barriers that slow her down.

“Anybody who wants to work should be able to work…”

…the most difficult part of my job is not the actual work, but figuring out how to work without losing my life-sustaining services. Obtaining and maintaining services can take as much time as a part-time or full-time job. Between the paperwork, research, doctors’ appointments, phone calls, and research, it can be quite daunting to pursue employment.”

Click here to read Josie’s full blog post.


There are eight (8) Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA) Parent Centers throughout the US that provide training and programming to youth/young adults with disabilities and their families, professionals, and other PTIs and CPRCs on the issues surrounding youth transition.


RSA Parent Centers are funded by the Rehabilitation Service Administration (RSA) under the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS), which is part of the US Department of Education.

Open Doors for Multicultural Families logo

In this issue of RAISE The Standard, meet Multi-Cultural Transition TA Project (Open Doors for Multi-Cultural Families). Open Doors for Multicultural Families (W.A.) has established a Multicultural Parent Training and Information Center that provides culturally and linguistically appropriate information about transition to adult services, post-secondary resources and services for culturally & linguistically diverse (CLD) youth with developmental & intellectual disabilities (DD/ID) and their families in states in the northwestern region of the U.S. Technical Assistance is provided through the RSA Multicultural Technical Assistance Project to professionals working with transition age youths and their families in the Region D1 states comprised of Alaska, Oregon, Washington, Hawai’i, American Samoa, Guam and Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands.


icon with several books on a bluish green circular background

The U.S. Department of Labor has links to several webinars. Click here to access the webinars:

Disability IN is the leading nonprofit resource for business disability inclusion worldwide, with a network of over 400 corporations. They serve as the collective voice to effect change for people with disabilities in business. Click here to learn more about Disability IN:

Integrate Advisors was founded in 2010 with the mission to help organizations identify, recruit, and retain professionals on the autism spectrum. Click here to learn more about Integrate Advisors:

Self-Employment: Enterprise and Inclusion: This webinar was produced by Rhode Island Council on Developmental Disabilities in 2021. Click here to view the webinar:


October is National Disability Employment Month!

The National Campaign, "Disability: Part of the Equity Equation" recognizes the vital role people with disabilities play in making the nation's workforce diverse and inclusive.


APSE’s legislative action page includes several bills at the federal level that would advance the financial well-being of people with disabilities.

Click here to learn more and take action:

RAISE The Standard

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

Visit our Website:

The RAISE Technical Assistance Center is working to advance the accessibility of its digital resources, including its websites, enewsletters and various digital documents.

* For more on SPAN Parent Advocacy Network and all of the complementary programs supported, visit


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.

US Dept of Education logo seal

The RAISE Center is a project of the SPAN Parent Advocacy Network and is funded by the US Department of Education's Rehabilitation Service Administration. The contents of this resource were developed under a cooperative agreement with the US Department of Education (H235G200007)). However, the contents do not necessarily represent the policy of the Department of Education and should not assume endorsement by the federal government.

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