Students Get Involved!

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Alert! Alert! 
Because NICHCY’s website will only remain online until September 30, 2014, most of its rich content has moved to a new home, the Center for Parent Information and Resources (CPIR), where it can be kept up to date.

The new address of Students Get Involved! at the CPIR is:


Picture of a pretty black teenager, fingers lifted to her eyes as if focusing.


November 2009
Resources updated, August 2012

There’s a very simple and common sense reason why IDEA 2004 requires that students with disabilities be invited to attend every IEP meeting where postsecondary transition goals will be considered: It’s their lives.

And those lives are changing. Adulthood is approaching, and with it will come a world of responsibilities and choices. Who’s the primary stakeholder in that life ahead? The student. Who better to choose the path ahead, the job or the next schooling, than the student? Who better to ponder what career, what leisure pasttimes, what community participation?  Student involvement in planning ahead makes all the sense in the world.

This resource page will connect you and yours with resources you can use to involve students with disabilities in planning their own transitions into adulthood.


The Basics of Student Involvement

Whose life is it anyway?
This publication is a unique exploration of the emotions and relationships between three key transition partners: Becky, the youth; her mother, and her teacher. It includes talking points for group discussion about relationship building and best practice in adolescent transition.

A fact sheet.
Courtesy of the Division on Career Development and Transition, a division of the Council for Exceptional Children.

What does student involvement involve?
Jim Martin is an expert on student involvement in IEP and transition planning. Here’s an archived discussion of his that provides an overview of student involvement and self-directed IEPs, as well as detailed answers to teachers’ questions.

How to get the most important person to the table: The young person!
This brief summarizes research on the participation of young people in person-centered planning and gives specific recommendations to help facilitators in maximize student participation.

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Person-Centered Planning

According to the Person-Centered Planning Education Site, person-centered planning “involves the development of a ‘toolbox’ of methods and resources that enable people with disability labels to choose their own pathways to success; the planners simply help them to figure out where they want to go and how best to get there.” As such, person-centered planning is a marvelous tool for IEP teams to use during transition planning. Explore the resources below to learn more.

Person-centered planning education site.
Learn all about it, stem to stern.

A mini-module.
The Transition Coalition offers this mini-module on person-centered planning and its use during transition planning.

Person-centered planning: A tool for transition.

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Materials for Students

A variety of resources speak directly to students themselves, to explain the transition planning process and the importance of participating in it. Because the resources are written for students rather than about students, their language is clear, positive, concrete, practical (often going step by step), and motivating. Turn your student loose on these!
“Childhood meets adulthood at” This is a very interactive site for youth to use to start thinking about what they want to do with the rest of their lives, designed to help youth plan for the future. (Psst! Good for adults, too.)

My Future My Plan.
This curriculum is designed to motivate and guide students with disabilities and their families as they begin early transition planning for life after high school. The curriculum package includes a videotape and discussion guide, a workbook for students, and a guide for family members and teachers. All materials are available in English and Spanish.

A student’s guide to the IEP.
From NICHCY, the student workbook comes with an audio program of students with disabilities talking about participating in developing their own IEPs, sometimes even leading the IEP meeting. (There’s a separate guide and audio program for families and professionals that focuses on how to support youth with disabilities in planning and participation.) All can be downloaded free at:

Relish is for more than hot dogs.
That’s the name of another NICHCY Student Guide, complete with audio program about young people with disabilities who followed their dreams and found their own sweet success. Their advice? Relish your dreams, delight in your talents, work to achieve who you are and who you will become. All can be downloaded free at:

Youth fact sheets.
Youth Fact Sheets are a series of six fact sheets developed and edited by youth with special health care needs. Topics include planning for technical or 4-year college, how to get supports in the workplace, how to be involved in the IEP process, and others.

Be your own advocate.
Visit KASA (Kids as Self Advocates), a national, grassroots network of youth with disabilities and needs (and friends), speaking out. As KASA youth say, “We are teens and young adults with disabilities speaking out. KASA knows youth can make choices and advocate for themselves if they have the information and support they need.”

Looking for a job? First, look inside yourself.
“Starting with Me: A Guide to Person-Centered Planning for Job Seekers” is a career development guide to help young people with disabilities make satisfying job choices.

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Which Transition Page Would You Like to Visit Now?

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NOTICE: NICHCY is going away, but its resources are not. Find hundreds of legacy NICHCY publications, as well as our training curriculum on IDEA 2004, in the Center for Parent Information and Resources' Library at This website will remain available until September 30, 2014. After that date, web visitors will be automatically redirected to