Skip to main content

Today’s families have high expectations that their youth with a disability will find success in postsecondary education, employment, and life in the community. PACER’s National Parent Center on Transition and Employment, an exciting and innovative new project from PACER Center, will provide valuable information about helping youth become career and college ready.

The road to adulthood for youth with disabilities is filled with opportunity, and parents play a key role. PACER’s National Parent Center on Transition and Employment is ready with the information families want, presented in a way families can use.

What Can You Do?
Simply Said: Introducing Vocational Rehabilitation Services
Be a Superstar —Take the Survey
Jump Start Your Future with Dual Credit Options
Customized Employment Solutions for Youth with Disabilities

In The News:

Participate in the National Online Dialogue on Families, Disability and Postsecondary Success

Are you a family member of a young adult with a disability who’s currently or recently enrolled in a postsecondary education program (e.g., certificate, apprenticeship, community college, college or university)? Participate in ePolicyWorks’ online dialogue, Connecting Families: Supporting Postsecondary Success of Young Adults with Disabilities. The dialogue is now open for participation and will continue through February 6, 2015. Register and join the discussion today!

Congress Passes ABLE Act: Major Victory for Persons with Disabilities and Their Families

The U.S. Senate has overwhelmingly passed the Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act of 2014 by a vote of 76 to 16. First introduced in 2006, and subsequent sessions of Congress, the ABLE Act will allow people with disabilities (with an age of onset up to 26 years old) and their families the opportunity to create a tax-exempt savings account that can be used for maintaining health, independence and quality of life.

For full details, see the full press release from the National Disability Institute.


Minnesota workers with disabilities will have more opportunities for state employment in the future. Gov. Mark Dayton recently signed a directive ordering state agencies to increase hiring of people with disabilities to at least 7 percent of the state government workforce by August 2018. The percentage of Minnesota state employees self-identified as having a disability declined from approximately 10 percent in 1999 to less than 4 percent in 2013. State government is the largest employer in Minnesota.


A high proportion of students with disabilities is leaving secondary education without being employed in competitive integrated employment, or being enrolled in postsecondary education; and there is a substantial need to support such students as they transition from school to postsecondary life” (WIOA, 2014)

On July 22, 2014, President Obama signed into law the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), which reauthorizes programs that had been previously authorized under the Workforce Investment Act of 1998 (WIA), as well as programs under the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Rehabilitation Act). The new statutory provisions make significant improvements for youth with disabilities transitioning from education to employment, by helping to ensure that these individuals have opportunities to acquire the skills and training they need to maximize their potential and enter competitive integrated employment. WIOA emphasizes providing youth with disabilities with more opportunities to practice and improve their workplace skills, including internships and apprenticeships; promotes participation in postsecondary education; and dedicates supported employment funds to help youth with the most significant disabilities receive the supports needed to enable them to succeed in employment.

U.S. Department of Labor Report Includes Future Employment Projections for People with Disabilities

The U.S. Department of Labor has released a report containing the familiar news that current employment levels for people with disabilities are low — however, it also contains the good news that job growth for people with disabilities in well-paying occupations has substantial potential. The Economic Picture of the Disability Community Project, a joint initiative between DOL’s Office of Disability Employment Policy, Employment and Training Administration, Chief Economist, Office of the Secretary, and the White House Council of Economic Advisors (CEA), includes data based on an analysis of the Census Bureau’s 2010-2012 American Community Survey and the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ 2012-2022 occupational projections. Learn more >>>.

ADA Q & A: Section 504 & Postsecondary Education

Many parents of students with disabilities have learned the basics of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). However, as students and their families prepare for the transition from secondary school to postsecondary options they often find they are less familiar with the protections provided by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act.

It is crucial that students and their advocates become knowledgeable about their rights and responsibilities in postsecondary education because, although protections exist, the student has considerably more responsibility to request and design their own accommodations. And this responsibility is ongoing. For many students with disabilities, good self-advocacy skills will be key to success, and knowing your rights is one essential element of effective self-advocacy.

The following questions reflect those most commonly asked of PACER staff regarding the ADA and postsecondary institutions.

Q. How does the ADA affect postsecondary schools?


Title II of the ADA covers state funded schools such as universities, community colleges and vocational schools. Title III of the ADA covers private colleges and vocational schools. If a school receives federal dollars regardless of whether it is private or public it is also covered by the regulations of Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act requiring schools to make their programs accessible to qualified students with disabilities.

Q. What are the differences between the ADA and Section 504?


For most postsecondary schools, there are not many practical differences. Although Section 504 only applies to schools that receive federal financial assistance, the reality is that most postsecondary schools do receive federal dollars. In addition, the ADA Title II requirements affecting state funded schools were modeled on Section 504. Only private postsecondary institutions that do not receive government funds are not covered by the broader 504 or ADA Title II requirements. Under Title III of the ADA these schools have a lower standard of burden in other words, assuming their resources are less, they wouldn't have to do as much as government-funded schools. But they are still required to accommodate students with disabilities in similar ways.

Q. How does the ADA and Section 504 affect admissions requirements?


The postsecondary program cannot have eligibility requirements that screen out people with physical or mental disabilities. Application forms cannot ask applicants if they have a history of mental illness or any other disability. Institutions may impose criteria that relate to safety risks but these criteria must be based on actual risk and not on stereotypes or assumptions. It is also illegal for an institution to serve students with disabilities differently because it believes its insurance costs will be increased. (It is illegal for insurance companies to refuse to insure, continue to insure, or limit the amount of insurance solely because individuals with disabilities are to be included in a program unless the practice is based on sound actuarial principles or actual experience.)

Q. What do postsecondary programs generally have to do for students with disabilities?


A school may not discriminate on the basis of disability. It must insure that the programs it offers, including extracurricular activities, are accessible to students with disabilities. Postsecondary schools can do this in a number of ways: by providing architectural access, providing aids and services necessary for effective communication, and by modifying policies, practices and procedures.

Q. What are the architectural accessibility requirements that affect postsecondary educational programs?


Buildings constructed or altered after June 3, 1977, must comply with the relevant accessibility code required by Section 504 and, after Jan. 26, 1992, the ADA. Buildings constructed before the 1977 date need not be made accessible if the college or school can ensure that its students with disabilities enjoy the full range of its programs through other means such as relocating classes to an accessible building. All programs and services, however, must be provided in an integrated setting. In some instances, architectural access may be the only way to make a program accessible.

Q. Does the college that accepted me into its program have to provide me with an accessible dorm room?


Yes, if that is what they provide to students without disabilities. A school that provides housing to its students must provide comparable accessible housing to students with disabilities at the same cost as to others. This housing should be available in sufficient quantity and variety so that the housing options available to students with disabilities are equivalent to those without disabilities.

Featured Publications

  • Minnesota Secondary Transition Toolkit for Families: A Guide for Preparing Your Child with a Disability for Life Beyond High School

    The opportunity to acquire a quality education is one of the most exciting advantages any young person could ask for. That’s why we send our children to school – so they can make the most of that opportunity and prepare themselves to become productive adults and valued members of the community. School is the place where children learn academic and social skills that can help them build a satisfying and independent life. No matter what environment that education takes place in – be it public (including charter schools), private, or home schooling – the purpose remains the same.

  • Helping Youth Develop Soft Skills for Job Success: Tips for Parents and Families

    Written by PACER Center: This InfoBrief discusses the importance of soft skills and offers strategies parents and families can use to help their child develop skills for employment success.

  • Helping Youth Build Work Skills for Job Success: Tips for Parents and Families

    Written by PACER Center: This InfoBrief addresses the need for youth to acquire work skills and offers strategies parents and families can use to work with their youth to develop skills that lead to success on the job. This InfoBrief also includes information on how to incorporate work skill development into school documents, such as the Individualized Education Program and the Summary of Performance.

  • Tapping into the Power of Families: How Families of Youth with Disabilities Can Assist in Job Search and Retention

    Written by PACER Center: This InfoBrief explores the important role families and other caring adults play in the career planning, job search, and job retention of youth with disabilities.

  • The Guideposts for Success: A Framework for Families Preparing Youth for Adulthood

    Written by PACER Center: This InfoBrief examines how the Guideposts for Success can be used as a framework from which families of youth with disabilities can consider the support needs of their youth during the transition planning process. It is based on information presented in the Family Guideposts, a National Collaborative on Workforce and Disability for Youth (NCWD/Youth) publication that looks at the original Guideposts from the perspective of families. The Family Guideposts highlight proactive roles families can play in the five Guidepost areas and offer examples of how families can become informed, supportive, and engaged in their youth’s transition. This information will also be helpful to professionals seeking strategies to effectively partner with families, and to advocates looking to empower families in the transition process.

  • Youth and Disability Disclosure: The Role of Families and Advocates

    Written by PACER Center: This InfoBrief highlights NCWD-Youth’s The 411 on Disability Disclosure, and explores the role families and advocates play in helping youth understand the importance of appropriate disability disclosure.

  • Possibilities: A Financial Resource for Parents of Children with Disabilities

    When your child is diagnosed with a disability, it can be overwhelming—emotionally and financially—on you, and perhaps your child and family as well. You realize, maybe suddenly, that you must change or modify plans for your child's future. Even the most stable of families face financial challenges. Yet, in caring for your child with special needs, those challenges can make for urgent situations.

    Considering the reality of this can be very difficult. That is why the Parent Advocacy Coalition for Educational Rights (PACER) Center and the National Endowment for Financial Education® (NEFE®) collaborated on this publication. Through it you will find ways to create a sense of order in your life and maintain control over your finances as you care for your child and prepare him or her for adulthood.


Visit PACER's other sites: Teens Against Bullying | Kids Against Bullying | FAST Family Support | FAPE | MN SEACs

Translated content: Hmoob/Hmong | Español | Soomaaliga/Somali

pdf icon PACER's site offers many PDF files for download, which require Adobe Reader to view. ©2015 PACER Center, Inc.