Tips & Tools

All Tuesday Tips

Sometimes it’s difficult to visualize the possibilities when you’re living with the day-to-day challenges. To help students, families, and caregivers understand what’s actually doable, we suggest sharing videos of transition success stories.

Take a look at the “Transition to Life After High School” page from the Pacer Center, Minnesota’s parent training and information center. The page features a subpage of employment success videos. Be sure to watch the one on customized employment and then scroll down to see videos from young people with disabilities.

Jared will tell you about his web design business that he’s able to run thanks to his sip and puff assistive technology. Nick operates his own lawncare business. And John explains how he’s been able to explore his strengths in the world of tech.
While they’re visiting the Life After High School pages, parents and students may also want to check out the Pacer Center’s videos on independent living, assistive tech, and self-advocacy.

You can share links to these videos in newsletters to home, at transition fairs, or via parent nights. Some students may enjoy watching them as part of their transition program or youth employment activities.

It’s May, and we know you and your students are sliding into summer after what’s been a particularly challenging year. Many of our teens and young adults may be facing several months of isolation and could be even less connected to friends and their communities than they are now.

It’s also Mental Health Awareness Month, so we want to make you aware of a couple of good resources.

  • has an online Mental Health Guide for High School Students. It’s not pushy and offers good tips and suggestions from a teen perspective. Includes information about technology supports, establishing social media limits, diet, exercise, meditation, sleep, escaping into nature, and more. Interesting tidbit: The guide includes a note in the COVID section about the importance of both creating a routine as well as breaking it sometimes. (They suggest an 80/20 percent split.)
  • The Indiana School Mental Health Initiative (ISHMI) is a project of the Indiana Institute on Disability and Community (so are we!). Check out their resilience resources in the Topics A-Z section. You’ll also find a listing of the state’s School District Behavior Consultants and of the Social Emotional Learning/Mental Health Coordinators in the Resource section.
  • Involve your students in Mental Health Awareness Month by sharing information and materials from the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) campaign “You Are Not Alone.” You can read stories there of individuals who’ve shared their experiences, or you can share your own.

Reminder:Join us tomorrow for Transition Talk at High Noon. We’ll be chatting with and learning from team members of the Center on Community Living and Careers who specialize in employment—from both a VR and community employment perspective. For more information and the Zoom link, see our Transition IEP Training and Support page.

Today we’re highlighting two “testimonial” videos from the transition portfolio training series. The videos offer different perspectives as to how portfolios can benefit teachers, Pre-ETS instructors, employment services providers, parents, and—especially—students.

The first video is from Niki Ford, a supervisor and teacher of her school’s employment training program. After switching to online portfolios three years ago, she’s seen multiple benefits. Having a one-stop-shop for documents and records helps families when their students leave school—and it means they won’t need to call you years later for a copy of a resume or the name of that job experience supervisor from sophomore year.

Niki also reports that digital portfolios create “incidental learning opportunities,” when students begin to see their portfolios as a reference and a problem-solving tool. In her sample Google Sites portfolio, she demonstrates the use of a table of contents to easily navigate the many documents they’ve added. Cool idea: The sample included quick-reference scripts for things like calling in sick.

Video number two is from Mary Ellen Jones, the youth and family supports manager for Stone Belt. Mary Ellen, who also oversees Pre-ETS and Project SEARCH, explains how helpful portfolios can be from an adult service provider perspective. A good portfolio, with documentation about a student’s strengths, preferences, and former experiences, gives providers a chance to jumpstart the Discovery part of the employment process. Mary Ellen also likes the transferability of portfolios—students can continue to build their portfolios and take them from one provider to another.

And finally, she encourages all of you to reach out to your Pre-ETS providers and make portfolios a collaborative work in progress. Pre-ETS providers also need portfolio information, so “do it together,” she says. “We want to make this a little less daunting for all of you.”

We’ve now uploaded all five Transition Portfolio Training modules, which originally debuted in March, to the INSTRC website. You’ll find them under the Training tab and on the Transition Portfolio Training and Support page. Scroll down to “Archived Transition Portfolio Training Modules.”

Scrolling even further on the page brings you to Transition Portfolio Office Hours. If you have a question, we’re here, every Wednesday, from 2:30-4:30 p.m., Eastern Time. Just click on the link to join the discussion.

Portfolio-related information update: After we completed the five modules in March, we learned of a change to the submission requirements. The finished portfolios of students with IEPs must contain, at a minimum, at least four artifacts (one per year). In order to better reflect a student’s strengths, preferences, and interests, however, best practice is that teachers and their students add at least four artifacts to their portfolios per year, for a total of 16 by the time students exit high school. Artifacts must provide information about all four domains: Student Information, Student Learning Characteristics, Academic Skills, and Employability Skills.

We know you’re in the midst of carefully crafting Transition IEPs for each of your students. The INSTRC team has updated its Transition IEP Compliance Checklist (formerly referred to as the requirements list) so that you can be sure your t’s are crossed and your i’s are dotted—or, in our language, your annual goals are measurable, your postsecondary goals are updated annually, and those goals are based on age-appropriate transition assessments.

Download, print, and check out the new checklist: Indiana Transition IEP Compliance Checklist

We’ve also uploaded the Transition IEP Compliance Checklist to the INSTRC website, so you can always find it by just typing “checklist” into the Resource Search or clicking the “Transition IEP” topic filter and scrolling through the results.

Ever wonder how your former students are doing? Well, the Indiana Department of Education, Office of Special Education does! On behalf of IDOE, the Center on Community Living and Careers (CCLC), will be contacting your students one year after they exit school. To do so, we need your help. For students who are exiting school this year:

  1. Please make sure your student’s contact information is accurate and up to date in the Summary of Performance section of Indiana IEP. When old and incorrect phone numbers, email addresses, or home addresses are in Indiana IEP, it makes it challenging for us to contact your former students to learn about their education, training, and employment experiences since leaving school.
  2. Teachers of Record, please remember to provide students and families with the Indicator 14 Letter with their exit IEP. You can find and download the Indicator 14 Letter in the Summary of Performance section of Indiana IEP. If the letter did not go out with the exit IEP, please send it to students and families now, before the school year ends. This letter will let students and families know they will be contacted by us a year after the student exits school.
  3. Help students and families sign up for the What’s Next? monthly newsletter, which contains resources and information about connecting to employers, finding supports, taking college classes or training, and identifying agencies and organizations that support young adults and families in the transition from school to adult life.

For more information about the What’s Next? monthly newsletter and the post-school outcomes report from last year, see Discovering What’s Next? on the CCLC website.

Reminders: Our next Transition Talk at High Noon takes place tomorrow, April 7. Join us as we talk with Michelle Oja from the Indiana Department of Education Office of Special Education about data collection and the IEP monitoring process. You don’t need to register. Find the link to connect on the Training page of the INSTRC website (scroll down a bit).

Transition Portfolio Office Hours also begin tomorrow at 2:30 p.m., Eastern Time. Zoom with us. Find the link on the INSTRC webpage.

We’ve added a new assessment to the INSTRC Transition Assessment Matrix. Our thanks to Ryan Thompson from Adams Wells Special Services Co-op for his help creating this one. The assessment, an “Inventory of Entrepreneurial Interests” works well for students from Amish communities in northeast Indiana, but it should also work well for students who are interested in developing skills that could be valued in communities throughout the state.

The assessment lists 25 different areas of interest, from baking and buggy wheel repair to tailoring and woodworking. Some of these interests could lead to self-employment opportunities. For more self-employment information and resources, see the self-employment resource page on the Center on Community Living and Careers’ website.

Send us an email at to let us know if the new assessment is helpful for your students, or let us know if there are other skills you would like to see added to the list. We’ll update the inventory as needed.

Reminder: Next week, Wednesday, April 7, you have two opportunities to connect with INSTRC staff. Drop in (virtually) for Transition Portfolio Office Hours from 2:30-4:30 p.m., Eastern Time, or join us for our monthly Transition Talk at High Noon, Eastern Time. For more information, visit the INSTRC Training and Transition Portfolio Office Hours pages on the INSTRC website. 

Watch your inbox! In the coming weeks, we’ll be sending you information about Indiana’s statewide virtual transition conference, coming up this summer. The three-day conference, “Facing the Future Together,” takes place July 21-23 and will feature national keynote speakers as well as breakout sessions for teachers, young adults and family members, community employment providers, VR counselors, and other professionals supporting transition students.

Topics proposed by panelists and presenters include assistive tech apps and tools; self-determination; benefits; transition strategies for blind and low-vision students; neurodiversity; sexual health for young adults with disabilities; work-based learning experiences; career-technical education; postsecondary education opportunities; and more.

This year, the annual conference for Indiana Cadres of Transition Leaders, usually offered each spring, will be held in conjunction with the July 21-23 transition conference.

More on speakers coming soon. Registration materials will land in your inbox in early May. Please share this information with your transitioning students and families!

Hundreds of Indiana secondary educators participated in our five Transition Portfolio Training modules this month. Now that we’ve gone through the steps and showed you some examples, we want to follow-up to hear how it’s going and to help you work through your individual issues.

Starting next month, INSTRC will be taking your questions during weekly Transition Portfolio Office Hours. You can come and go with a question or just pop in to hear and learn from others. Beginning April 7, join us:

Office Hours
Wednesdays, 2:30-4:30 p.m.,Eastern Time

Find us on Zoom at:

You do not need to register for Transition Portfolio Office Hours. Just drop in with your questions. There will be a Zoom waiting room; the host will let you in.

Bonus Tip: Keep in mind, INSTRC now offers technical assistance via two types of office hours. In addition to Transition Portfolio Office Hours, we’ve established Open Office Hours on Thursdays, from 3-5 p.m., Eastern Time, to answer your questions about transition and the Transition IEP. We’ve got you covered Wednesdays and Thursdays. Zoom in!

Just a reminder that Indiana Diploma Decisions from the Indiana Secondary Transition Resource Center, is available on the INSTRC website for you to review and share with students and families. The guide contains valuable information on diplomas, the Certificate of Completion, graduation requirements and pathways, transition portfolios, and more.

You’ll find it at: Indiana Diploma Decisions
It’s also available in Spanish! Decisiones sobre el Diploma-Indiana

Need more information for parents? Share the link to our Collected Resources for Families. In addition to Indiana Diploma Decisions, you find information on Medicaid waivers, Social Security benefits fact sheets, and the “Working with Indiana VR” videos (in English and Spanish).

Teachers, if you haven’t explored the updated Secondary Transition webpage of the Indiana Department of Education (IDOE) website, we encourage you to take a look. The new site makes it much easier to find:

  • links to the recording from last fall’s Virtual Transition Fair for families
  • the rotation schedule for Transition IEP monitoring
  • information about transition portfolios

In the Transition Portfolios category, for example, you will find a Guidance document, Google Sites examples, and answers to Frequently Asked Questions.

Michelle Oja, IDOE’s special education specialist, has included links on the site to categories that contain resources intended to assist educators as well as some for students and families.

Be sure to bookmark the page!

  • “If one part of the Transition IEP is not compliant, does that mean the whole IEP is not compliant?”
  • “I have a student who insists his goal is to be a football quarterback. What services and activities should we be doing?”
  • “My student is planning to live at home after they leave school. Does that mean they don’t need an independent living goal?”
  • “I have a postsecondary goal but I’m not sure it’s measurable. How do I find out?”

Transition can be a tricky business. Every student is different. Rules and regulations change. Documentation demands your attention. Staff of the Indiana Secondary Transition Resource Center (INSTRC) are here to help.

Open Office Hours

Beginning next month, INSTRC will hold free, weekly Open Office Hours. You can come and go with a question or just pop in to hear and learn from others. Beginning Thursday March 4, join us:

 Every Thursday, 3-5 p.m., Eastern Time

Connect with us on Zoom:

Transition Talk at High Noon

We’ll also provide short, interactive but topic-focused technical assistance every month on Transition Talk at High Noon. Upcoming dates and topics are below. Save the dates and times!

First Wednesdays, Noon, Eastern Time

  • March 3  General Transition IEP Information
  • April 7  Interview: Department of Education—Data & the Monitoring Process
  • May 5  Transition IEP-Present Levels

 Connect with us on Zoom:

Note: You do not need to register for Open Office Hours or any of the Transition Talk High Noon webinars. Need accommodations? Contact us at at least three weeks before your Transition Talk or Office Hours. Let us know what accommodations you’ll need and for which dates you’ll need them.

Bring Change to Mind (BC2M) is a school club program created by students especially for students to reduce the stigma and discrimination around mental illness. Statistics show 1 in 5 teens and adults suffer from mental illness. Through peer-to-peer social support, BC2M aims to change fear and stigma to compassion and connectedness, tearing down any barriers that may exist.

The BC2M community of students work together to create a stigma-free zone for people with mental illness to help their schools become a safer place for all people. These clubs can address the isolating and uncertain experiences of the COVID pandemic and have a far-reaching impact through their virtual and hybrid meetings, and outreach.

The Indiana School Mental Health Initiative and the Indiana Resource Center for Autism, at Indiana Institute for Disability and Community, embrace the Bring Change to Mind program with the support of the Department of Education. The number of clubs around the state have grown from 10 to 45, and there is room for 10 more clubs this year.

If you would like to bring this important program to your school, please contact Emily Nichols at or use the BC2M Club Program Application Form.

FAFSA applications are due soon. Families and students with disabilities interested in attending college need to understand that the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) could assist them with federal and state grants and/or loans and scholarships.

That part is pretty standard. What students may not realize is that VR postsecondary education assistance—possible tutoring, assistive tech, and other supports—also depend on students first completing and submitting their FAFSA. To be eligible for state aid, Indiana residents must submit their FAFSA form so that the federal processor receives it on or before April 15, 2021.

Filling out the FAFSA form—especially for first-time filers—can be complicated. Encourage students and families to participate in College Goal Sunday, which provides free FAFSA filing assistance to Hoosier families. This year's event will take place virtually on March 7, 2021. Please see College Goal Sunday for full event information.

Let students know that the earlier they file the FAFSA, the more likely they are to receive financial assistance. can also guide students and families through the process of applying for additional financial assistance and scholarships. Other information and deadlines:

In an effort to help families participate at a time that’s more convenient for them, Indiana’s Family Employment Awareness Training (FEAT) is shaking up its virtual schedule. FEAT is a series of free webinars for parents, young adults in transition, and their supporters to help them learn about competitive employment. In addition to extensive information about supported/customized employment, training also provides resources and discussion on employer and employee supports, benefits, work incentives, and savings.

This spring, IN*SOURCE and the Center on Community Living and Careers will offer each FEAT webinar three times on the days the webinar is offered—morning, afternoon, and in the evening—so that attendees can participate when it’s more convenient for them. Training kicks off February 16 and runs through March 25.

In addition to topic-focused sessions, FEAT offers two webinars specifically for young adults, and two webinars featuring presentations from local employers, agencies, and other support organizations. This spring, local presenters will represent Wabash, Angola, and Fort Wayne.

FEAT, now offered in five states, is sponsored by AWS Foundation.

Encourage students and families to check out the list of FEAT topics, dates, and times on the IN*SOURCE FEAT information page.

We’ve learned a new word. Teaching proper netiquette, the do’s and don’ts of online communication, can help students better understand what is socially acceptable when they are online for personal or professional purposes. Encourage your learners to consider how an outsider, perhaps a future employer, would view their media sites.

Help students understand that what they write and post on social media platforms, things like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, are public, are permanent, and can have a long-term effect. (And middle school teachers, this applies to many of your students as well, since they may already be experienced social media users.) Nowadays, future employers, co-workers, college admissions officers, and faculty can and often do check out an applicant’s or individual’s online presence.

Tell your students to choose a long-term email address they can use for college and employment applications, resumes, and scholarship opportunities. Encourage them to leave out nicknames or anything inappropriate. Ask them, "Will this email address make a good impression?" A professional email address doesn’t always have to be a full name. Some suggestions might be a combination of first name, last name, and/or initials.

Be sure to share the Top 20 Social Networking Etiquette Tips for Teens with your students. By teaching netiquette rules for working online, you can promote online and real world best practice: Be kind and courteous and treat others as they want to be treated.

Other Resources

As of last week, the General Assembly is back in business at the Indiana State House. That may be especially interesting for your students this year, because state legislators are working on our two-year funding plan—the Indiana Biennial Budget.

Since Indiana puts together a budget only every other year, budget years get a lot of attention. When the General Assembly convenes in January (and even before Jan.1), they hear from stakeholders including state agencies (e.g., IDOE, FSSA, Department of Agriculture), individuals, special interest groups, businesses, schools, cities, and townships, all of whom have suggestions on how the state’s money should be spent.

The budget is the legislative blueprint for how much we will spend on programs and services in our communities for things like COVID prevention and treatment programs, transportation, job training, law enforcement, and Medicaid. This is a great time for students with disabilities (and their teachers and families) to learn about how to have a voice in the budget process for issues that pertain to them.

The key to success in college for students with disabilities is often planning, re-planning, and planning some more. You already know about the importance of academics, the Core 40 diploma, and self-determination. But just as important may be finding the right “fit” with colleges and universities willing to support students who need assistive technology support, individualized classroom (or online) accommodations, effective peer tutors, and creative social inclusion strategies.

Help students and their families begin to explore the possibilities by pointing them to the following resources:

  • Postsecondary Education in Indiana—a page of the Center on Community Living and Careers (CCLC) website offering resources and information about support programs for degree-seeking students with disabilities on several Indiana college and university campuses. The webpage also has information about the six Indiana colleges and universities offering college experience programs to interested students in their last year of school prior to exiting with a Certificate of Completion. (Note that eligible students must live in the districts collaborating with one of the six programs.)
  • Is College for You: Setting Goals and Taking Action and ¿Es la Universidad para ti?—a publication of the Center on Community Living and Careers.
  • The Postsecondary Education Resource Collection—featured on the INSTRC website.
  • What’s Next?, Issues No. 5 and 6—a newsletter for students with disabilities who’ve recently exited school, What’s Next? provides information and resources on a variety of transition topics. Issue No. 5 focuses on planning for college. Issue No. 6, due out next week, focuses on the importance of filling out the FAFSA.*

For those of you supporting students in the midst of college visits and planning, the INSTRC website also includes the following resources and assessments. On the Resource Search page just check the “Postsecondary Education & Training” box. On the Transition Assessment Matrix search page check the “Education/Training” box and scroll through to find related assessments, several of which are also available in Spanish and Burmese.

  • The College Planning Worksheet
  • College Campus Visit Reflection
  • College Preparation Checklist
  • College Technical School Initial Review
  • Postsecondary College School Comparison

    *Bonus Tip: During your case conference meetings, be sure to let families know about signing up for the What’s Next? newsletter. By giving them the link to the What’s Next? webpage and encouraging them to fill out the survey there, you can also include the newsletter on the IEP when filling out the transition information box! (That’s the one that says, “Document the written information that was presented to the parent and student regarding the available adult services provided through state and local agencies and other organizations to facilitate student movement from school to adult life.)

Transition assessments are key to determining a student’s postsecondary goals and developing a quality transition IEP. Admittedly, though, it can be difficult to find transition assessments that target students with significant disabilities.

As you’re searching, keep in mind: You can adapt transition assessments to fit the needs of your student. You do not have to use an assessment exactly as written. Consider these assessment adaptations for students with high support needs:

  • Use pictures instead of or in addition to questions on an assessment.
  • Read transition assessments to students.
  • Create an activity where the student discusses relative topics right before they complete the assessment.
  • Use a scribe for the student’s responses.
  • Limit multiple-choice questions to two possible responses.
  • Transfer assessments to Google Forms or another virtual method.

Using authentic and other forms of transition assessments may also help appropriately assess students. Interviews, observations, and task analyses can all be transition assessments if used to determine the student’s strengths, preferences, and interests related to their postsecondary goals.

Save these resources (and this tip) to a folder!

Happy Holidays! Tuesday’s Transition Tips will return January 5. We’ll miss you, but wish you peace, goofy board games, jigsaw puzzles, family and friends (even if it’s on Zoom), the anticipation and excitement of little ones, sprinkles on cookies, cozy naps, mugs of hot chocolate, and all the joys of the season. Stay warm and safe, everyone!

The Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities (MHDD) National Training Center is a clearinghouse of information providing information and resources about “evidence-based, trauma-informed, and culturally responsive” practices that address the needs of individuals with developmental disabilities. MHDD is a collaboration among University Centers of Excellence on Developmental Disabilities (UCEDDs) at the University of Kentucky, the University of Alaska Anchorage, and Utah State University. (Just FYI, Indiana’s UCEDD is the Indiana Institute on Disability and Community, the home of the Indiana Secondary Transition Resource Center.)

Among the resources on the MHDD website, you’ll find fact sheets like:

  • “Dual Diagnosis 101";
  • a toolkit on mental health, stabilization, and wellness for individuals and families;
  • the link to a youth suicide and prevention plan;
  • videos from students and experts in the field; and
  • training webinars.

Note that MHDD also includes resources in Spanish and plain language. 

Saving for the future is now doable thanks to ABLE accounts. Sometimes parents of adult children with disabilities who are receiving Social Security or Medicaid may be concerned about employment for their child. They’ve heard that benefits could be lost if their love one earns above a certain threshold. What are ABLE accounts, why would someone want to have one, and how do they work? All good questions!

ABLE, which stands for Achieving a Better Life Experience, is a savings and investment program created by the U.S. Congress for people diagnosed with a disability before age 26. ABLE account owners can save up to $15,000 per year from their own earnings or from benefits payments, inheritance, or from friends and relatives who may want to contribute to the account. The great thing is that an account holder can save up to $100,000 in an account without losing their Medicaid or other benefits. Account holders who work can save even more money per year.
Many states now offer ABLE account programs. Individuals and families exploring the ABLE possibilities can even compare and contrast different state program advantages, like debit card options, investment plans, and tax advantages before they enroll.

ABLE plans also work well with existing future-planning arrangements. For instance, many families set up special needs trusts for long-term supports and an ABLE account for shorter-term savings and spending on things like housing down payments or new technology. Families who originally set up a 529 plan for college savings can also roll over those funds into an ABLE account.

Refer families who have questions to:

Watch for upcoming webinars on ABLE accounts and other benefit topics. We’ll keep you posted!

Gratitude negates attitude. Seems appropriate in this season of thanksgiving, doesn’t it? But in a year like 2020, how do you teach your students to express their gratitude to the people in their lives?

Researchers say that the act of being thankful can do amazing things. On that list, they include the ability to live happier, more satisfied lives filled with self-esteem, hope, empathy, and optimism. Some researchers also believe that people who express gratitude develop relationships that are more positive at home and school.

With that in mind, here are a few suggestions for activities you can do with your students to build an attitude of gratitude.

  1. Get creative. Capitalize on student strengths—and fun. Pictures, cartoons, videos, texts, photo collages, flowers, and offers to help are all great ways to express thanks.
  2. Make use of that tech. Using the student’s tech of choice (augmentative communication device, cell phone), help them program a recorded prayer or poem or a simple message to family so that they can say grace at Thanksgiving.
  3. Beautify with leaves of thanks. Have students create a “tree” of thanks with a vase, a branch, and cutout construction leaves. Find how-to-instructions here. (Smiles, favorite authors, Netflix, grandpa’s goofy hats, 5-minute-breaks, mom hugs, PlayStation, pumpkin pie, a possible vaccine—whatever.)
  4. Give Zoom gratitude. If you’re online, practice expressing thanks with your class. If no one’s volunteering, start with the little things (like the leaves, above).
  5. Use music. Try a little inspiration with Kelly Clarkson’s “Thankful,” dance it up with Earth, Wind, and Fire’s “Gratitude,” or help students create their own gratitude playlists. Check out this list for songs in multiple genres.
  6. Show them how. Be sure to model to your students how it’s done. Thank them for the work they’re doing in these tough times. Send an email to the tech support people for keeping us connected (show it to your students). Send a Thanksgiving card to a loved one who can’t be there in person this year.

And on that modeling note, we’ll start. Thank you for all you do for your students...for your willingness to keep learning with us...for your patience….for reading Tuesday’s Tips. And thanks for hanging in there this year.

We wish you all peace, family, fun, two slices of pie, and a Happy Thanksgiving. Tuesday’s Tips will return December 1.

It’s often said that technology makes life easier for everyone. However, for people with disabilities, technology is more than a convenience. It’s often a necessity to make all things manageable.

Right now, your school is supplying the tech tools your students need for success in the classroom; however, that responsibility ends with the student exiting school. It is important to make careful considerations for adult services. Therefore, the student, family, and other case conference members should identify assistive technology (AT) needs; discuss how the technology will be funded; and establish a plan for equipment training, if needed. This discussion and planning should occur early in the transition process, while students are still in high school, so that they and their families can prepare for tech needs when they leave school.

Some resources to keep in mind:

  • The Indiana Assistive Technology Act (INDATA) Project at Easterseals Crossroads in Indianapolis offers funding assistance, lends AT devices and equipment, and reutilizes used equipment to give free of charge to Hoosier individuals with a disability. Not only can you borrow AT from their loan library, but their staff will also train you to use the equipment and devices.
  • Indiana Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) may provide necessary AT to your students found eligible for VR if they are preparing for or entering employment or training.
  • Additional funding sources to explore include Social Security work incentives, the student’s employer (if the technology is considered a reasonable accommodation), private foundations, local charities, and health insurance including Medicaid or Medicare.

It’s Election Day. We hope that if you haven’t yet, you will get to a polling site and make your voice heard by casting your vote.

With today’s Tuesday’s Tip, we want to point you to a great resource you may not have explored. The Jobs Accommodations Network (JAN) offers free, confidential and practical solutions that help people with disabilities enhance their employability. Bolstered by tips from JAN, you and your students can show employers how they can benefit from the talents of your students with disabilities.

JAN’s Searchable Online Accommodation Resource (SOAR) allows you and your students to explore various accommodation options in work and educational settings.

Another great feature on the JAN website is the A to Z listings of disabilities and accommodations. You can search by disability, limitation, work-related function, topic, and accommodation. JAN's A to Z may not address every situation, but as you explore the site, you will find it very beneficial to your students as they plan for employment.

Have a question about JAN? Review JAN's Frequently Asked Questions.

One of the first steps for young adults eligible to receive employment services through Indiana Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) is to choose a community employment provider. VR and employment providers work with job seekers to identify their Individual Path for Employment. But how does a transitioning student choose an employment provider? With the assistance of the VR Pick List.

Once VR determines that a young adult is eligible for VR services, the VR counselor or intake staff member will share a VR Pick List with the job seeker and their family. (Note: Individuals working with area community rehabilitation providers will also receive a pick list through their case manager. This one’s different!)

The VR Pick List is available on the Indiana VR website for each county in the state. Job seekers and families are encouraged to look through the services offered by the employment providers in their area. Some providers specialize in providing services and supports to job seekers who are blind or vision impaired. Others offer benefits counseling or behavioral skills intervention. It’s important for job seekers and families to contact and interview providers to find the right match.

Review the VR Pick List for your county and share it with your VR-eligible students and their families.

Transition planning can be a frustrating and daunting task for parents. The learning curve is steep (employment, benefits, supported decision-making/guardianship, housing, day-to-day supports), and the pressures on families can be intense. It is important that we, as teachers, share resources with parents that can help them navigate their transition journey.

Here are five trusted websites, geared toward parents and families, which offer good information, guidance, and tools for transition.

The Division on Career Development and Transition (DCDT) has compiled a trove of resources for working online with students in a LiveBinder created by Al Daviso. If you have oodles of time, you can explore all of the many tabs here if you’d like.

We’ve clicked and peeked for you, though, so here are a few of our favorites. Some are free, but some are fee-based or available for a subscription. (Don’t you hate it when they don’t list the prices?)

  • Nepris—live chats with industry experts, career pathways tied to CTE clusters, industry videos.
  • Virtual Concerts, Plays, Museums, and Other Culture—links, courtesy of CNN Style, to a long list of virtual experiences ranging from Alvin Ailey Dance Theater to the Sistine Chapel. You can even watch the live stream of the African penguins at Atlanta’s Georgia Aquarium.
  • Virtual Job Shadow—hundreds of real-life job videos and career advice from employees. Includes lesson plan builders and career assessment tools. 
  • Functional Skills System—peer modeling videos of independent living skills. Health, life, social skills, and other categories of videos are available in three skill levels: signs and words, how-to series, and learning activities series. 
  • School of Strength from Special Olympics—warm-up, endurance, strength, and balance videos as well as several extra-credit, 30-minute workouts with a trainer. You can also download a fitness tracker.

Formerly known as our Regional Trainings (because we traveled the state to meet with many of you), this year’s Transition IEP Trainings: Building Bridges to Quality were presented online in August 2020 via a series of webinars. Presentation topics and links to the recorded training sessions are

 The INSTRC regional training Padlet includes many resources from the trainings that zero in on each section of the transition IEP.

And for your reference, we’ve also compiled your webinar FAQs and answers from our presenters

To help improve school programming and supports for future students in Indiana schools, the federal government requires that states submit data to the Office of Special Education Programming (OSEP) about students with IEPs who have left school. Students may have dropped out, exited with a Certificate of Completion, or graduated with a diploma. This effort to capture outcomes information from these students and their families is part of Indicator 14.

Indiana’s Department of Education is currently working to improve its student and family awareness about the Indicator 14 Post-school Outcomes Survey, which takes place a year after the student leaves school. Surveyors contacting students and their families ask about any education, training, and employment experiences the student may have had in the year since they’ve left school. That information is confidential and aggregated into Indiana’s annual Indicator 14 report.

Since spring of 2020, staff of the Center on Community Living and Careers have been working with IDOE to contact students and families by mail, email, and phone to collect the survey data. Students who are contacted have been selected through a randomization process to ensure that IDOE has appropriate representation for its annual report.

Teachers can help by

  • Asking students and families to update their contact information (first name, last name, address, phone number with area code, and a long-term email) at their exit Case Conference;
  • Ensuring that the IIEP is updated with the student’s preferred language;
  • Providing students and their families the Post-school Outcomes Information Letter (see the links below) concerning the upcoming survey that will be sent out a year after they have left school; and
  • Informing and assisting families and students with IEPs to sign up for the free “What’s Next?” monthly transition newsletter. To read past issues or subscribe to the newsletter, see the “What’s Next?” page on the INSTRC website. (Yes, teachers can subscribe too!)

To see and share the Post-school Outcomes Information Letter with students and families, please use the following links:

We all know that self-determination is a primary indicator of better outcomes for transitioning students. One of the best ways to foster that self-determination is to involve students in the process of voting.

With that in mind, here are a number of election resources to share with your students:

Encourage your students of voting age to create a calendar reminder or to ask their smart speakers to tell them to vote on Election Day, November 3, or to mail in their ballots at least a week before the day!


Bonus Tip: Interested in Self-Employment and Business Ownership? The Center on Community Living and Careers and the Governor’s Council for People with Disabilities is offering two upcoming trainings. Both are free and online for students, young adults, families, and supporters. The ABCs of Self-Employment is an introductory workshop and will be held twice, on October 7 and again on October 14. For those who want to dive deeper into the topic, the Road to Self-Employment is a two-day training, on November 3-4. For more information or to register.

Do you ever wish there was one training for parents and families that provided thorough information about how their children can obtain competitive employment aligned with their interests? Wouldn’t it be great if this training also provided extensive information about supported/customized employment, employer and employee supports, benefits, work incentives, and savings? How awesome would it be if this training included specific information related to Indiana about all of these topics? And if it was also FREE?

Well, wish no more. Registration is open for Family Employment Awareness Training (FEAT). This fall, FEAT goes online with a series of webinars providing extensive information about employment and benefits to young adults, transition-age students, and their supporters.

Webinar titles and dates are:

  • October 20 – Introduction/Transition in Indiana
  • October 21 – Supported/Customized Employment
  • October 22 – Transition Services/Process
  • October 23 – Young Adult Session 1
  • October 23 – Local Stories of Employment Services
  • October 26 – Employer and Employee Supports
  • October 27 – Resources and Benefits
  • October 28 – Work Incentives and Asset Development
  • October 29 – Anti-Discrimination
  • October 30 – Young Adult Session 2
  • October 30 – Local Agency and Resource Presenters

All general session times are from 6-7:30 p.m. The two young adult sessions are from 5-6 p.m. Sponsored by AWS Foundation, FEAT is facilitated by IN*SOURCE and the Center on Community Living and Careers.

For more information and to register for one or all sessions, see the FEAT flyer and link to registration.

Because the Covid-19 pandemic created concerns about transition planning for the 2020-2021 school year, the Indiana Department of Education, Office of Special Education (OSE) and Indiana Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) produced Considerations for Transition Planning as Part of School Re-entry July 2020.

You will find this document helpful as you consider that school districts may vary greatly on access to their buildings and staff. Families may have greater concerns for student safety and about any scheduled Pre-ETS activities. Consequently, transition teams will face many challenges and will need to be on the same page going forward.

To assist our transition educators working with families and students whose first language is either Spanish or Burmese, the Indiana Secondary Transition Resource Center (INSTRC) recently translated nine of its most commonly used transition assessments.

You’ll find these new authentic assessments, along with all of our assessments, in the Transition Assessment Matrix on the INSTRC website. To make it easier to search for the Spanish and Burmese assessments, we’ve added a checkbox filter. Click on either of those boxes (or both if you’re working with both populations), and the Matrix will bring up all of the following translated assessments:

  • Career Comparison
  • Career Exploration
  • Career Fair Reflection
  • Career Video Reflection
  • Elective Class Reflection
  • Job Initial Review
  • Job Shadow Feedback
  • Occupational Information Interview
  • Postsecondary School/College Comparison

Need a refresher on what an “authentic assessment” is and how to use it? Authentic assessments are simple reflection or information tools used to capture transition-related services and activities happening in the classroom, during community-based instruction, in a career/technical education classroom/program, and throughout a student’s school year.

The annual Capacity Building Institute (CBI) of Indiana’s Transition Cadres usually takes place in the spring. Well, we all know how that went this year. But we (the staff of the Indiana Secondary Transition Resource Center) didn’t give up on it altogether. We recorded our keynote speakers and a few of our other presenters and set it up as a free course in IU Expand so that you can still participate and learn virtually.

Included in the five video modules for this year’s Indiana Cadres of Transition Leaders Capacity Building Institute are:

  • Culture & Equity: Critical Reflection with Transition Leaders and Educators—featuring Brooke Harris Garad of the Center on Education and Lifelong Learning at the Indiana Institute on Disability and Community
  • Employment Provider Panel Session—featuring representatives of two Indiana community employment provider agencies
  • Integrating Universal Design for Learning into Transition: A Focus on Secondary Education—presentation from Dr. Loui Lord Nelson
  • Transition Services and Activities—sample case studies, featuring INSTRC’s Malena Nygaard

Use the link here to connect to the 2020 CBI course videos.

Indiana Vocational Rehabilitation has updated its “Working with Indiana VR” video. Available in Spanish and English, the video uses a colorful quick-draw technique to explain VR’s application and eligibility process. It also describes services available for job seekers, students with a postsecondary education goal, and employees who are looking for a new job or who have a new employment goal.

This year “Working with VR” also includes information on Pre-Employment Transition Services (Pre-ETS) and VR’s order of selection, the process by which VR determines who is eligible for services when a state’s resources are challenged.
To watch and share the video, use the links below, or search for Working with Indiana VR on the Center on Community Living and Careers website.

If you’ve saved the link to the old video, be sure to update your files with the new one!

The seven regional Indiana Cadres of Transition Leaders build capacity across the state and address a variety of secondary transition needs. Cadre members meet regularly (typically once a month or every other month) to discuss, plan, learn, and provide supports. Many cadres work on products to support their regions and the state. Past Cadre projects have included the Transition Assessment Matrix; parent information brochures; and videos to support teachers, students, and families.

Each Cadre has one or two facilitators, along with a support person from the Indiana Secondary Transition Resource Center team. Cadres are also supported by the Indiana Department of Education.

Interested in joining a Cadre? We hope you are! Not sure which Cadre your school district is in? You can find a map of Cadre boundaries and a listing of currently participating districts on the INSTRC Cadre webpage

Please email one of the facilitators below to learn more about meeting dates and activities.

The Indiana Secondary Transition Resource Center (INSTRC) team welcomes you back to what promises to be a topsy-turvy year. Some of you may already be in your classrooms; others may be working from home in your kitchen/bedroom/den/deck offices. Wherever you are, we’re here with Tuesday’s Transition Tips, supporting you this year as you guide your transitioning students and families on their individual paths.

A couple of things as we gear up for the 2020-2021 school year:

  • If you have a new colleague in your building, please make sure you share Tuesday's Tips with them. We want to reach all new staff, so have them subscribe by heading to the Tuesday’s Transition Tips webpage and filling out the simple form there.
  • This year’s Annual Transition IEP Trainings, “Building Bridges to Quality,” begin August 17 and continue through August 21. Register now! We’ll be Zooming online this year (surprise!), so sessions are divided by topic:
    • Federal IEP Monitoring
    • The Transition IEP
    • Annual Goals
    • Indicator 14 and District IEP Self-Monitoring

The first three topics are offered twice, once in the morning and again in the afternoon. Register for each topic and select your preferred times.

In case you have not met all of our INSTRC staff, we are:

Judith Gross, Director of the Center on Community Living and Careers
Cathlene Hardy Hansen, Project Director
Mike Nevins, Research Associate
Wendy Ritz, Research Associate

Check back with us every Tuesday. If you have questions, suggestions, or a request for INSTRC, email Cathlene at

Virtual hugs. We know that many Indiana schools are concluding their academic year in the next week or two. As a result, Tuesday’s Transition Tips will bow out a little early in 2020.

We want you to know how grateful we are for all of you. For reaching out to your students on Zoom or WebEx. For driving by their houses to wave hello. For creating new strategies to help students and their families struggling to get by in these seemingly endless weeks at home—let alone for finding ways to help them make progress toward their transition goals under incredibly stressful circumstances.

You’re amazing.

We also want you to know that we’re still here, working as a team. Email us at or call 812-855-6508 if you need to reach us in these final weeks or throughout the summer if you have questions about Transition IEPs, assessments, transition services and activities, or if you just want to share a success story. We love those!

Take care, be safe, and stay healthy and have a wonderful summer. We’ll be back in August!

Do you have the National Technical Assistance Center on Transition (NTACT) in your toolbox?

NTACT is addressing challenges faced by teachers, service providers, students and their families by providing on-going guidance, resource, and sample documents focused on service and supports during the COVID-19 pandemic for transition age students and their families. They are also hosting additional resources on their website from the National Center on Systemic Improvement.

NTACT has a plethora of resources in its Effective Practices and Predictors Matrix that are always helpful; some may be especially useful while you are remote teaching and learning. NTACT is dedicated to supporting states and LEAs in implementing evidence-based and promising practices to ensure students leave high school, in any learning environment, to be prepared for success in the postsecondary world.

Are you looking for information about vocational rehabilitation? The Vocational Rehabilitation Toolkit is a guide for those working with students and families. Published by the National Resources for Advocacy, Independence, Self-determination and Employment (RAISE) Technical Assistance Center, it is a six-part series designed to facilitate the involvement of state Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) agencies in the transition process.

  • Part 1: Introduction to Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) & Eligibility
  • Part 2: Special Education Transition and VR Services
  • Part 3: Employment Goals and the Individual Plan for Employment
  • Part 4: Vocational Rehabilitation Services
  • Part 5: Vocational Rehabilitation and Assistive Technology
  • Part 6: VR Services Appeal Rights

The toolkit also includes a glossary explaining many vocational rehabilitation terms and related laws.

RAISE Vocational Rehabilitation Toolkit
Webinar: RAISE Vocational Rehabilitation Toolkit– an overview and explanation of how to use the toolkit.

The Transition IEP must include transition assessments, postsecondary goals, transition services, and annual goals for all students. It can be a challenge to ensure that every section of the Transition IEP includes quality information for students with significant disabilities.

We have compiled the following resources to help you write quality Transition IEPs for students with high support needs. Each of these is available on the INSTRC website.

The resources above are all available on the INSTRC website. Find them by typing “high support needs” in the Resource Search field.

One of a series of tips to help you support your transition students when they can’t be in school.

With students now at home, it can be a challenge to ensure access to quality transition services and activities. Here are some examples of services and activities you can help students do online or from home.


  • Have a student watch career videos related to their career choice or area of interest at Dr. Kit or CareerOneStop. They should then complete and return a form telling you what they like and don’t like about the career. After watching videos, students can also tell you if they’ve identified a possible new career or if they want to change or confirm their career choice.
  • Set up a video connection, like Skype or Zoom, with a student and share pictures of possible areas of interest or preference or actual careers (outside, inside, computers, mechanics, office, art, drivers, etc.) Have the student indicate if they like or dislike each picture.

Education and Training

  • Ask a student to research three colleges, CTE programs, or online training programs that provide training related to their postsecondary career goal. Have them write and submit a short paper explaining what they like and dislike about each program.
  • Students who will be accessing training at an adult service provider after leaving high school could connect online or by phone with an agency representative and discuss the programs and supports they provide to young adults and their families. They can then send you a report.

Independent Living Skills

  • Have the student film themselves (possibly with family assistance) using a computer camera or cell phone as they carry out an independent living task such as preparing a snack, or tying their shoes. Record those abilities on a task analysis or an observational assessment. Practicing the skill can be a service, and the task analysis could be a transition assessment on the next IEP.
  • Video modeling can help a student learn independent living skills. Search for video modeling examples on YouTube and share those modeling skills you want the student to practice. Two examples:

How have you been providing quality transition services to students while they are at home? Please send your examples to us at 

One of a series of tips to help you work online with your transition students.

Helping students define their postsecondary goals might feel challenging when you’re not discussing their future hopes and dreams with them in person. Here are a few tips about maintaining quality postsecondary goals for your students during Covid-19:

  • Communicate with your students. Use email, cell phone, or an app to have those important discussions. Talk with students about their plans for post-school employment, education, and independent living. Ask them if current events have made them rethink their goals or if they remain the same.
  • Use an app or program to send a message with questions to multiple students. Ask questions that help students think about their postsecondary goals. Google Forms is a great way to send information to students and receive replies that are automatically recorded for each individual. GroupMe is an app that enables participants to have group discussions that does not require sharing cell numbers. Need career resources? Check out our Career Video Resource Collection on the INSTRC website.

It’s important to keep students thinking about their futures and to help them participate in modified activities, similar to what they were doing before social distancing was put into effect. These activities, when summarized, can be turned into assessment information and will help students continue to consider their postsecondary goals.

Do you have some creative ways to reach out and work with your students on their postsecondary goals while they are at home? Please send your examples to us at 

One of a series of tips to help you support your transition students when they can’t be in school.

Compliant transition assessments can be difficult to administer when you’re not face to face with your students in a classroom setting. But they do not have to be completed in person, and there are alternatives to paper/pencil assessments.

Tips for completing transition assessments while e-learning:

  • Copy/paste the questions from an assessment into an email, and have students respond.
  • Summarize activities that have been completed so far in the school year from current transition services/activities (elective classes, coursework in a class, college fairs, pre-ETS work, task analysis) showcasing a student’s strengths, preferences, interests, and needs.
  • Conduct a phone interview (just make sure that you write down the questions and answers to help you summarize it later).

Do you have questions or a creative way to capture information for transition assessments while students are at home? Please send questions or examples to:

Special Note: The National Technical Assistance Center on Transition (NTACT) is offering a webinar today, March 24, at 11 a.m. Eastern Time. Tune in to “Providing Transition-Focused Activities Online and At Home.”

Summer camps are a wonderful way for our students to meet new friends, explore new interests, experience independence, and participate in activities they might never be exposed to during the school year. It can be challenging, though, to find the right camp for a student with disabilities. Day camp, weekends, near home, robots, exotic animals, anime, music, medical or physical supports, picky eaters, fear of the water, stargazing. You name it; families are looking for it.

Thankfully, our colleagues at the Indiana Resource Center for Autism publish an annual Summer Camps and Programs Guide, where parents, teachers, and counselors can find a myriad of camps that take place throughout Indiana. (The guide is not just for students with autism.) It’s listed by region and alphabetically and even includes therapeutic horseback riding programs and sensory-friendly movie theaters.

Deadlines for enrollment vary, so explore now and send the link to your families!

There is no fooling about the official Census Day on April 1. The Constitution requires a count of all people living in the country every 10 years, so the U.S. Census Bureau invites everyone living in the U.S., both citizens and non-citizens, to complete the Census questionnaire. Unfortunately, not everyone with disabilities gets counted. (This could be an opportunity for a civics lesson with your students!)

Catherine Vest, communication and outreach specialist for Indiana Disability Rights recently brought attention to the issue in a View from My Window podcast interview with Michelle Fischer at the Arc of Indiana. Census data, she said, "provides evidence to determine what kind of resources get allocated to various districts." Individuals with disabilities and their families are more likely to complete the Census when they understand that Census data can determine housing, health care, employment, education, and other services and supports. Without an adequate count, programs and services that people with disabilities may need can be cut from state and local budgets.

The Census Bureau will mail questionnaires to households in the next few weeks. You may answer the survey online, by mail, or on the phone. The Bureau also provides translated web pages and guides in 59 non-English languages, including American Sign Language, as well as guides in braille and large print.

Find more information about why it's important to be counted at The Arc's Census 2020 webpage.

Transition can be a challenging time for teens and their families. There is a continuum of support needs across a variety of domains during and following this transition period. Students and families may need information and supports regarding decision-making, transportation, relationships, household or budget management, employment, education, and more.

What does it really look like, though, when you stitch together all of those supports? How can teachers, families, and students envision what life could be like after high school?

Adria Nassim, one of our colleagues at the Center on Community Living and Careers, is a young woman with multiple disabilities who works and lives independently in Indiana. She knows what supports she needs, and what works best for her, including her companion and service dog Lucy. Adria writes about disability for the local newspaper and has a blog for the Center on Community Living and Careers. Follow her at Adria’s Notebook.

Find more information about independent living on the new Community pages of the Center on Community Living and Careers website. In the coming months we’ll add to our pages on Health and Wellness, Housing, and Independent Living, but take a look and share with your students and families.

Last week we gave you information for students leaving school with a Certificate of Completion who might be interested in postsecondary education experiences. This week, we’ll explore information and resources for Indiana students with disabilities graduating with a General or Core 40 diploma who are seeking an academic degree.

Eligible students graduating with a General Diploma may have the opportunity to start their postsecondary journey at Ivy Tech Community Colleges or other two-year colleges around the state. These colleges can acclimate students to college classes and provide an avenue toward career and technical certificates or an associate’s degree. They can also be the first step to a transfer to a four-year university.

Students graduating with a Core 40 Diploma who are aiming for a bachelor’s degree or higher will want to talk with the disability services office at the colleges they apply to regarding their accommodations. A few Indiana universities (and others around the country) offer additional supports for students with disabilities, including tutoring services, peer mentoring, social skills groups, and more.

For more information, check out:

And for a little inspiration, watch Natalie Miller’s transition success video on the CCLC YouTube channel.


This week, we bring you the first of two tips focusing on postsecondary options for students who want to continue their education beyond high school.

Many colleges across the country include students with intellectual disabilities as part of the Transition and Postsecondary Programs for Students with Intellectual Disability, often referred to as the TPSID (pronounced “tipsid”) programs. TPSID programs in Indiana were initially established with funding from the U.S. Department of Education and support from an Indiana consortium of organizations and agencies. Though Indiana no longer has a TPSID grant, many of the original programs are still operating.

Typically, Indiana TPSID students are those expected to receive a Certificate of Completion. While participating in a TPSID program, students may be able to audit college courses, engage in activities with their college peers, and hold a part-time job.

Find the Indiana colleges and universities still actively working to include transition students on their campuses on the Postsecondary Education page of the Center on Community Living and Career’s website. Finally, for your smile of the day, watch as Mickey Deputy opens her letter of acceptance to the Inspire program at Franklin College, filling one of her many dreams.

Expectations are formed by what we see, hear, and experience. It is difficult to form expectations when we simply don’t know what is possible or available to us. This applies to all expectations in life, but especially to expectations for employment.

Most young adults look to their families as models for employment (what we see). Students and their families also tend to listen to those in authority (e.g., educators, service providers) regarding what kinds of employment are available and how to access it (what we hear).

Ideally, though, young adults will have opportunities to experience different integrated, competitive jobs in order to better understand their options and preferences for employment (what we experience).
Without this information, students with disabilities (and their families) may have low expectations for employment simply because they don’t understand creative strategies (like customized employment) or what resources are available to support employment and how to access them.

Think Work! at the Institute for Community Inclusion at the University of Massachusetts Boston provides a variety of real work stories that highlight creative employment strategies across the country. Take some time to dig into these stories and consider how to inspire expectations in your students for their future employment.

Griffin-Hammis Associates also offers a collection of creative employment examplesthat can be used to inspire employment dreams.

Finally, we have collated a playlist of YouTube videos sharing employment success stories because sometimes a video can be a more impactful way of sharing the story and inspiring high expectations for the future!

Read, watch, share, and be inspired!