Pre-Employment Transition Services (Pre-ETS)

A guide for Pre-Employment Transition Services (Pre-ETS) from the Massachusetts Commission for the Blind (MCB)


The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (W.I.O.A.) requires vocational rehabilitation agencies to set aside at least 15% of their federal funds to provide Pre-Employment Transition Services (Pre-ETS) to “students with disabilities who are eligible or potentially eligible for vocational rehabilitation services.” W.I.O.A. defines five service categories eligible students should receive to encourage better preparation for postsecondary education, independent living, and employment. The five Pre-ETS categories are:

  • Job Exploration Counseling
  • Work-Based Learning
  • Counseling on Post-Secondary Education & Training Opportunities
  • Workplace Readiness Training
  • Instruction in Self-Advocacy

Massachusetts Commission for the Blind (MCB) pays contracted non-profit organizations and educational partners to provide Pre-ETS.

Pre-ETS are designed to build on the transition services already occurring within the local education agency. Meaningful delivery of Pre-ETS is most effective when educators, families, and employers are engaged and working together on the student’s behalf. With successful collaboration, the transition team can address the complex needs of students and contribute to opportunities to improve post-school outcomes for children with disabilities.


  • Visually impaired students ages 14 through 21 (up to their 22nd birthday) receiving services through an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) or a Section 504 Plan. Students may be either eligible for MCB vocational rehabilitation services or “potentially eligible.”
  • “Potentially eligible” students are registered with MCB but have not applied for MCB vocational rehabilitation services (and may wish to do so at this time), as well as students with visual impairments who are not registered with MCB and whose medical condition and prognosis are undetermined. The federal government wants agencies to provide limited Pre-ETS by a referral process service that is “simple, engaging, and not discouraging.”

Pre-ETS Programs

Pre-ETS are much more limited than the services available to students who have applied for and been found eligible for vocational rehabilitation. However, a number of different programs may be provided to address the five core Pre-ETS:

  • Job Exploration Counseling
  • Work-Based Learning
  • Counseling on Post-Secondary Education & Training Opportunities
  • Workplace Readiness Training
  • Instruction in Self-Advocacy

Job Exploration Counseling

  • Purpose: Job Exploration Counseling is meant to provide students with a variety of opportunities to gain information about careers, the skills needed for different jobs, and to uncover personal career interests.
  • Examples of activities:
    • With student, review vocational interest inventory and skills assessment results
    • Learn about and explore career pathways using career information systems
    • Interview people to learn about jobs and skills needed to succeed
    • Provide information regarding nontraditional employment, such as teleworking and self-employment
    • Provide information about in-demand industry sectors and occupations

Work-Based Learning (WBL)

  • Purpose: Work Based Learning (WBL) is an educational approach or instructional method that uses community workplaces to provide students with the knowledge and skills that will help them connect school experiences to real-life work activities and future career opportunities.
  • Examples of activities:
    • Connect student with a business mentor
    • Develop work sites aligned with student interest
    • Provide local volunteer opportunities for students
    • Conduct work-based learning evaluations of student performance
    • Provide opportunities for internships, apprenticeships (not registered apprenticeships or pre-apprenticeships), fellowships

Counseling on Post-Secondary Education & Training Opportunities

  • Purpose: Counseling on Post-Secondary Education & Training Opportunities improves employment outcomes and increases opportunities for students with disabilities to access 21st century jobs.
  • Examples of activities:
    • Early college experiences in high school
    • Learn about accommodations for college entrance exams
    • Develop ‘class shadows’ in college and vocational training classrooms
    • Advise students and parents or representatives on academic curriculum
    • Provide information about college application and admissions processes
    • Complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) with student
    • Provide resources that may be used to support individual student success in education and training (i.e., disability support services)

Workplace Readiness Training

  • Purpose: Workplace readiness traits describe a number of skills that employers expect from most employees.
  • Examples of activities:
    • Identify and learn how to use assistive technology in the workplace
    • Meet with a benefits counselor
    • Develop individual transportation plans and learn necessary mobility skills
    • Provide self-evaluation instruction/programs that include the same topics as found under a group setting:
    • Maintaining healthy relationships
      • Work and study habits
      • Planning and goals setting
      • Using community resources
      • Budgeting and paying bills
      • Computer literacy

Instruction in Self-Advocacy

  • Purpose: Self-advocacy skills will enable students to advocate for any support services, including auxiliary aids, services, and accommodations that may be necessary for training or employment.
  • Examples of activities:
    • Discuss with student how their disability impacts them and identify strategies that may assist them at school, work, and socially
    • Assist student to identify, document and explain needed accommodations
    • Assist student in developing goals and information to share at their IEP
    • Conduct informational interviews
    • Provide opportunities for students to participate in mentoring with individuals employed by or volunteering for employers, boards, associations, or organizations in integrated community settings
    • Provide opportunities for students to participate in youth leadership activities offered in educational or community settings

Benefits for the Student

  • Identification of student career interests and needs
  • Awareness of the variety of options and the role of post-secondary education and training
  • Development of plan with outcome-oriented goals and activities
  • Awareness of the variety of careers available and the variety of jobs within career fields
  • Broaden perspective of personal skills to utilize, reinforce, and develop for work
  • Increased communication with family about student’s progress and needs
  • Broaden self-awareness, including how to request accommodations or services and supports

Obtaining Pre-ETS

  • Students should contact their vocational rehabilitation counselor if they are interested in a Pre-ETS program. The counselor can assist with the application, develop and Individualized Plan for Employment (IPE) and authorize payment.
  • A teacher of students with visual impairments (TVI) or other school staff may refer a student to MCB by emailing
  • “Potentially eligible” students may only receive services that address the five core Pre-ETS. Students who have applied for and been found eligible for vocational rehabilitation may receive the full range of vocational rehabilitation services, including college or vocational training, assistive technology, and job placement.

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