Transition to Adulthood and Post Secondary Education

The transition to adulthood is challenging for any young person, but particularly so for youth with disabilities. Recent years have seen initiatives around the world to better prepare students with disabilities for the new demands of adulthood. Common to these initiatives is a recognition that multiple factors influence transition, including type and severity of impairment, environmental barriers and supports, personal characteristics, and available socioeconomic resources.

Given such complexities, an integrated approach is essential for the provision of services and supports that effectively prepare students for a world where they will most likely have both new freedoms and new responsibilities. In our discussion we will address the conceptualization and experience of the transition process, as well as the practical and policy issues involved in that process.

Common areas of inquiry in the field of transition include meeting IDEA transition planning requirements; independent living; self-advocacy; self-determination; developing social capital; personal futures planning; gaining social skills; supported employment; supported education; postsecondary education disability support services; promoting healthy self-identities; personnel development; and cultural and linguistic competence in service provision.

Listed below are some examples of topics of interest.

  • What does the cyclical and dynamic nature of the transition process mean for policy development and/or practice?
  • What innovative methods of inquiry and research can enhance our understanding of transition?
  • How can youth be supported to develop the social capital that most people without disabilities naturally have available to achieve their goals through their social networks?
  • What are the advantages and disadvantages of segregated transition programs for youth with intellectual or developmental disabilities?
  • How can those with autism spectrum disorders be supported to gain essential social skills for success in postsecondary education, employment, and/or community living?
  • How can postsecondary institutions better promote the academic success of students with learning disabilities and/or attention disorders?
  • What are the most essential or effective components of programs for inclusive postsecondary education for students with more severe disabilities?
  • How can transition-age youth be supported to understand their rights and become effective self-advocates, whether in an educational or employment setting?
  • Do programs designed to increase self-determination lead to improved adult outcomes, and if so what are the key program elements leading to these outcomes?
  • How can transition programming be effectively tailored to best support youth of culturally and linguistically diverse heritage?
  • Does a focus on supporting youth to be “happy” lead to improved adult outcomes?
  • Can efforts to promote acceptance and understanding of one’s disabilities lead to development of a self-identity that supports leadership and advocacy on behalf of others with disabilities?
  • Should disability support offices at postsecondary education institutions be involved in helping students build social capital in addition to the usual focus on academic supports?
  • Has passage of the ESSA affected transition programming and planning, and if so how?
  • How have disability support services provided by postsecondary education institutions evolved over the years, particularly with regard to alignment with social models of disability?
  • Best practices, innovative research and programming in post-secondary institutions as it relates to persons with disabilities.

If you have a proposal that may not fit in to the above targets, we will welcome them as part of our discussion. We welcome proposals in any presentation format and are especially keen on skills building workshops on implicit bias, and those that enhance  leadership and capacity building skills for communities and the workplace.

Please see presentation formats on our webpage at Please check the criteria for each format and ensure that you have the appropriate number of presenters for your chosen format. You may submit proposals online at: or send your proposals via email to

For more information about this topic area, contact David Leake at or Evan Nakatsuka at For general information on the conference, please contact Charmaine Crockett at, (808) 956-7539. For registration questions please contact the registration desk at (808) 956-8816, fax (808) 956-4437 or email