Two girls examine their bill in a restaurant

What is Transition?

Overview of transition for students who are blind or visually impaired

Transitions occur throughout our lives and refer to any time that we make a change from one role or location to another.   Moving to a new school, a new program or even a new classroom are all different types of transition. A young child going from home to preschool, entering Kindergarten, moving to elementary school, middle school or high school, or leaving school and entering the work force, vocational training or post-secondary education are all different types of transition.

Each of these transitions presents different types of challenges, depending on the individual needs and abilities of a child or youth. For those who have difficulty expressing their needs or desires, the transition may present certain obstacles and it will be critical to develop a communication portfolio or some way to let new teachers and staff members learn about the individual’s communication style.  Teaching a student how to advocate for herself or how to navigate through a new school or building will be essential to a successful transition.

What Does Transition Mean for Young Children?

It is important to begin thinking about transition at a very young age.  While we don’t usually think about employment or independent living with children in preschool or elementary school, the seeds for these skills are planted early in life.  For young children, learning about different types of careers and community helpers, or doing classroom jobs or chores at home are ways to begin to begin to explore the world of work at a very young age.  Similarly, while household management and budgeting may still be off in the future, learning to take care of oneself and one’s possessions are a beginning step in developing independent living skills.

Transition for Older Students

The term “transition” is most often used to refer to the transition from school to adult life.  It encompasses education (vocational training or college and other types of post-secondary education), independent living (housing, recreation, and community participation), and work (competitive employment, supported employment, community-based day support, volunteer work and any type of vocational placement).  While the term refers to the period of life after high school, the process itself must begin much earlier than that.

Getting started with Transition Planning:

Transition Timeline: Where to Start

Student-Driven Transition Planning

Preparing for Transition Using an Activity-Based Self-Determination Curriculum

Preparing for College


Tools for Planning

Sample Forms and Assessment Tools

By Charlotte Cushman