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National Center on Secondary Education and Transition: Creating opportunities for youth with disabilities to achieve successful futures.

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This Web topic examines the factors that make it possible for young adults with disabilities to assume productive roles within their communities and have a satisfying quality of life (e.g., a stable income, medical and personal care, reliable transportation, recreational options, etc.).


The following are some “quality of life” outcomes that young people seek to achieve in their adult lives:

  • income that is stable and adequate
  • medical care, personal care, and other supports necessary to feel and be healthy
  • recreational options, friendships, and social connections based on mutual respect and value
  • reliable transportation
  • safety and security in the surrounding community

Community services encompass a wide array of services and supports that are available to youth with disabilities and their families. These services are typically based upon each young adult’s individual interest and need for support. Community services and supports help to ensure that young adults with disabilities have access to opportunities that any other citizen has. Services can be both formal and informal. Formal services include those provided through local county, state, or federal government programs for which youth and young adults are eligible because they have a disability. Informal supports include those things that youth and families are a part of through their social networks, such as extended family, neighborhood block clubs, and volunteer work.

Attention to community services is extremely important to youth with disabilities and their family members. Without extensive transition planning in this area, youth are at risk of many undesirable outcomes, including compromised personal health and safety, inappropriate housing, social isolation, and poverty. Assuring access to appropriate community supports and services is also important to educators and job developers interested in helping youth become engaged in productive careers and have successful futures.

When thinking about community services, the following points should be considered:

  1. What community services and supports are available in my state for young adults with disabilities?
  2. Are community services and supports an integral part of the transition planning process for every young adult on an Individualized Education Program (IEP)? If not, what can be done to change this?
  3. How often are informal supports part of the transition planning process in my community or school? How can we do a better job of including these in each young adult’s transition plan?
  4. What resources, services, and supports are missing that are critical to the success of the young adults with disabilities in my community?

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National Center on Secondary Education and Transition
Institute on Community Integration
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This page was last updated on January 12, 2022.