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Transition glossary: Key terms for transition planning

A glossary of terms for helping young adults with visual impairment or multiple disabilities navigate post-secondary transition planning.

Here’s a helpful glossary of transition-planning terms for young adults with visual impairment or multiple disabilities, to help your family navigate your student’s journey from high school to adulthood.

Age of majority: the legal age established under state law at which an individual is no longer a minor and, as a young adult, has the right and responsibility to make decisions that adults make. This is called transfer of rights. In most states, the age of majority is 18, but there are exceptions. It is important to know your state’s laws.

After attaining the age of majority, a person assumes full control over their actions and decisions, and the legal responsibilities of the parents or guardian are terminated. If a court has not appointed a guardian, the adult student has the right and the responsibility to make their own educational, medical, and financial decisions.

In the event a student wants continued, formalized support with educational decisions, but it’s not necessarily appropriate to pursue an appointed guardian, students and families have options that can vary by state. For example, they can opt into shared educational-decision making through their IEP or pursue a Power of Attorney in this area.

Guardianship: A court action in which a petitioner is appointed by a probate court to make decisions for an individual who is deemed unable to do so.

Community-based: Services provided in a non-institutional setting, preferably in an individual’s home community

Competitive employment: a job in which the hiring, salary, and job description, and evaluations are handled equally for all employees; often a full time role. More on competitive employment.

Customized employment: a job in the community in which the employee’s disability is accommodated, through task ‘carve outs’ or through other staff who may offer assistance or support; often a part time role

Chapter 688 referral (Massachusetts): Also known as the “Turning 22 Law,” this referral creates documentation that a student with severe disabilities will need adult services and support. This documentation alerts transition agencies and the state legislature regarding the future needs of these students, and should be completed by the district and family no later than two years prior to high school graduation (or certificate of completion).

Chapter 688 is meant to address the transition planning needs of eligible students by providing a two year coordinated plan with an appropriate adult agency. Students who are registered with the Massachusetts Commission for the Blind (MCB) or who receive SSI or SSDI benefits are automatically eligible for Chapter 688.

Individualized transition plan (Massachusetts): A written transition plan for Chapter 688-eligible students developed by the adult service agency designated as the student’s “Lead 688 Transitional Agency.” The adult agency is responsible for developing an Individual Transition Plan (ITP) for the student, outlining the needed services after exiting special education. Chapter 688 is not a continuation of special education and the ITP does not provide a guarantee of services.

Adult family foster care (Massachusetts): Program is funded through MassHealth and provides tax-free stipend to a family member/caregiver living with the individual with a disability to help with care; the caregiver cannot be the legal guardian (but may be a parent who does not have guardianship or a sibling over 18).

Affordable housing (Section 8): Generally defined as housing in which the occupant is paying no more than 30 percent of gross income for housing costs, including utilities.

Prioritization: The Supports Intensity Scale (“SIS”), developed by the American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (“AAIDD”), is utilized by the Department of Developmental Services (DDS) in assessing the support needs of individuals found eligible for DDS adult services as persons with an intellectual disability. SIS helps determine the support necessary for someone to successfully access and participate in their community.

Expanded Core Curriculum (ECC) for the blind and visually impaired: The body of knowledge and skills needed by students with visual impairments due to their unique blindness-specific needs. The nine areas are: compensatory or functional academic skills, including communication modes; orientation and mobility; social interaction skills; independent living skills; recreation and leisure skills; career education; use of assistive technology; sensory efficiency skills; and self-determination.

Formal assessment: Evaluations that involve standardized testing measuring specific skills or abilities. Some examples include achievement tests measuring academic skills; psychological testing to assess cognitive performance; career interest inventories; and independent living skills evaluation.

Informal assessment: Methods to gather information on individual strengths and needs such as teacher or parent observation, self-evaluation, or portfolios of work.

Supplemental Security Income (SSI): A program that pays benefits to disabled adults and children who have limited income and resources, as well as to people age 65 and older without disabilities who meet the financial parameters.

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