In 2014, changes to federal vocational rehabilitation law (the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act — WIOA) added pre-employment transition services for disabled students with disabilities with an Individualized Education Program (IEP) or 504 Plan. Students who are legally blind and registered with MCB, as well as students who are visually impaired, may participate.
Below is a list of Pre-ETS Frequently Asked Questions
Who can receive Pre-Employment Transition Services (Pre-ETS) as provided for under the recent Federal Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act?
- Students aged 14-21 (up to their 22nd birthday) who are visually-impaired or legally blind who are either eligible for Massachusetts Commission for the Blind (MCB) vocational rehabilitation services or “potentially eligible”. Students who are “potentially eligible” include individuals who are registered with MCB but who have not applied for MCB vocational rehabilitation services (and who may not be ready to do so at this time) as well as students with visual impairments who are not registered but who receive services from a Teacher of Students with Visual Impairments (TVI) or a Certified Orientation and Mobility Specialist (COMS) due to a visual impairment. Students who are “potentially eligible” but not registered as legally blind are not eligible to receive any other MCB services besides Pre-ETS.
- In addition, the law requires that the student be receiving services through an IEP or a Section 504 plan or other formal educational program such as college, vocational training, or HiSET/GED preparation. Unfortunately, youth who have dropped out of all educational programs cannot receive Pre-ETS services.
- For students in special education, the IEP team should include the statement that “MCB is providing pre-employment transition services” in the IEP.
How can a TVI, COMS, or other school staff member make a referral for MCB Pre-ETS?
A student may be referred by a TVI or COMS or other school staff by telephone or completion of the Pre-Employment Transition Services Visually-Impaired Student Referral form (below) which may be sent by email or regular mail to the MCB Deputy Commissioner (John Oliveira, 617-626-7509; John.Oliveira@State.MA.US). Any interested person can make a referral or self-referral for MCB Pre-ETS services through any MCB office.
What types of programs can be provided as Pre-ETS services?
Pre-ETS services are much more limited than the vocational rehabilitation services available to students who have applied for and been found eligible for vocational rehabilitation services. However, a number of different kinds of programs may be provided that address the five areas below:
- Job exploration counseling;
- Work-based learning experiences, which may include in-school or after school opportunities, or experience outside the traditional school setting such as summer internships;
- Counseling on opportunities for enrollment in postsecondary educational programs;
- Workplace readiness training to develop social skills and independent living, including orientation and mobility training and assistive technology training that the school is not required to provide;
- Instruction in self-advocacy, which may include peer mentoring.
Examples of some recent MCB-funded programs that meet the definition of Pre-ETS are listed at the end of this FAQ. MCB intends to increase the Pre-ETS options for students and welcomes ideas from consumers, TVI’s and school systems.
What services can “potentially eligible” students receive?
Potentially eligible students may only receive services that address the five areas listed above. Students who have applied for and been found eligible for vocational rehabilitation may receive the full range of vocational rehabilitation services including services such as college or other vocational training, assistive technology, and job placement.
Can Pre-ETS services be provided under an IEP to students who are no longer attending school every day?
Yes, if the school system and the student agree to delay graduation and continue the IEP during the provision of MCB Pre-ETS services as part of the transition planning and transition services provided under the IEP. These Pre-ETS and transition services would occur in a kind of “gap” period or year to ensure that the student has adequate preparation for the transition to adult services and competitive employment.
Can a student sign up for a Pre-ETS program before contacting MCB?
No, state law requires that MCB only fund services that have been authorized in writing by the agency before that program begins. So, it is important to refer the student to MCB well in advance of the beginning of the program.
What MCB services can younger children who do not qualify for Pre-ETS receive?
Children younger than age 14 who are legally blind are eligible for MCB Children’s Services. Students with visual impairments who are not legally blind are not eligible for Children’s Services. The funding for these services is much more limited and may be dependent on financial need. These services are also provided based on the availability of funds at any given time. For more information, call Susan Lavin, Director of Programs at 617-626-7475.
Link to the Pre-ETS Referral Form
Examples of Currently Approved Pre-ETS Programs
Carroll Center for the Blind (Newton)
- CarrollTeens provides students, entering grades 6 through 9, with instruction and social experiences to meet the many challenges of transitioning into middle and high school. Classes are held on a college campus in Newton and are staffed by qualified and experienced education professionals who make learning meaningful, challenging, and fun. (Summer)
- Youth in Transition: This annual 6-week residential program provides skills instruction in daily life skills such as meal prep, grooming, travel, technology; opportunities for natural socialization with true peers sharing similar challenges and life experiences; and promotes independence for teens transitioning into young adults. (Summer)
- Real World of Work Experience: Students work for minimum wage in the nearby community, take skills classes on campus, and socialize with peers with similar challenges while living independently with peers on campus. (Summer)
- Computing for College: Students prepare for college with advanced computer instruction visits to local college campuses and mentorship with current college peers. (Summer)
- Summer Computer Courses: One or two-week computer courses will be available during the summer for students who need individualized instruction or are beginning computer users. (Summer)
- Technology for Life: Weekend/school vacation sessions provide structured learning opportunities to access a variety of technologies, learn new technology and job-related skills, and explore various future employment options as they plan their own career paths. Each session includes training with employed blind and visually impaired professionals who share their employment experiences and career preparation. (Weekend/school vacation)
- Educational Courses: Courses focused on SAT/ACT preparation; braille enrichment; and college readiness. (Weekend/school vacation)
Perkins School for the Blind (Watertown)
- Pre-employment Program “Let’s Go to Work” (10-week Saturday program)
An experiential course that gives young adults the skills to compete and the confidence to pursue success, whether for an internship, summer employment, college work-study job or career
- Perkins Transition Programs
Annually-changing courses offered on weekends, school vacations and summers focused on the Expanded Core Curriculum (ECC). These courses supplement social skills, independent living skills, vocational training and offer a variety of activities, such as skiing, theatre, robotics, and broadcasting, in age-specific groups, paired with support and training from staff.
- Berklee College of Music Summer Program
For the past 30 years, Berklee has offered a Five Week Performance Program. This is a pre-college course ideally suited to high school students but open to all eligible applicants. Students are immersed in their chosen style. They play in ensembles, develop improvisational and reading skills, improve technique in weekly private lessons, and participate in classes and demonstrations by well-known faculty and visiting artists. Location: Various state-of-the-art facilities located on the urban Berklee Campus in Boston, MA.
- Carabiner’s Rock Climbing Gym (New Bedford)
“Climbing towards Self-Awareness and Confidence” focuses on independence in Orientation & Mobility (O&M).
- Camp Jabberwocky
A residential summer camp for individuals with disabilities that provides recreation and enriches the lives of campers by creating a supportive environment that promotes the fulfillment of human potential and fosters independence and self-determination while respecting diversity.
- 1Touch Project™ of Self-Defense
1Touch is a comprehensive self-defense program that is designed for the blind and visually impaired population, ages 14 and older. The program consists of 6 weekly sessions of 1.5 hours each. Each session consists of three parts: discussion/role-play, movement conditioning, and self-defense techniques. Taught by Massachusetts’ Certified 1Touch Coaches: TVI Katrena Traut-Savino and TVI/COMS Tim Traut-Savino
- National Organization for Albinism & Hypopigmentation (NOAH) Summer Camp
The National Organization for Albinism and Hypopigmentation is a non-profit organization that assists people who have albinism. NOAH Summer Camp is an opportunity for children with albinism and their families to share a fun-filled outdoor vacation with others like them.
- No Barriers USA (formerly known as Global Explorers)
2016 Program for Blind and Visually Impaired Explorers: “Leading the Way: Grand Canyon Sound Academy/A celebration of the NPS Centennial”. Over the course of 12 days, accepted students will journey into the heart of Grand Canyon, learning about the importance of natural sounds, participating in meaningful science, learning about career opportunities with the National Park Service, and honing their leadership strengths.
This information is provided by the Massachusetts Commission for the Blind.