Pre-Employment Transition Services (Pre-ETS)

In 2014, changes to federal vocational rehabilitation law (the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act — WIOA) added pre-employment transition services for disabled students with an Individualized Education Program (IEP) or 504 Plan.

Frequently Asked Questions about Pre-ETS Services

How can a TVI or other school staff member make a referral for MCB Pre-Employment Transition Services (Pre-ETS)?

A student may be referred by a Teacher of Students with Visual Impairments (TVI) or other school staff by telephone or completion of the Pre-Employment Transition Services Visually-Impaired Student Referral form (link below) which may be sent by email or regular mail to any MCB VR counselor or regional office (list below).

Who can receive Pre-ETS services?

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

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;
  • Counseling on opportunities for enrollment in postsecondary educational programs;
  • Workplace readiness training to develop social skills and independent living;
  • Instruction in self-advocacy, which may include peer mentoring.

Examples of some recent MCB-funded programs that meet the definition of Pre-ETS are available through MCB. The agency also intends to increase the Pre-ETS options for students and welcomes ideas from 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 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 receive?

Children younger than age 14 are eligible for MCB 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.

Does MCB have a Pre-ETS Best Practice Guide?

MCB Pre-ETS Best Practice Guide Graphic Novel The Quest for Independence Front Cover with MCB Superhero

Yes! In 2020, MCB secured funding from the Rehabilitation Services Administration to complete a series of 24 projects aimed at improving vocational and employment opportunities for individuals who are blind and visually impaired, including individuals who qualify for Pre-ETS services between the ages of 14 thru 22.

Our experience indicated that many Pre-ETS individuals and their caregivers lacked easy to understand resources and guidance documents regarding the transition between education and employment.

So, our team came up with the idea of developing a Pre-ETS Best Practice Guide that would be engaging for our target population. 

MCB was pleased to engage with a company named Pink Elephant who helped us accomplish our goal of informing and engaging our consumers, educators and families in a new and interesting way. We conducted focus groups with the Pre-ETS community to help us shape the concept for our graphic novel, and they even helped us come up with its title, The Quest for Independence.

Independence is a main focus of our programs and services at MCB, and that is what served as the overriding theme of our graphic novel. 

Our graphic novel, The Quest for Independence, features the story of two fictional, yet typical, Pre-ETS individuals named Alex and Sophia. Alex and Sophia are two visually impaired teens on a quest trying to fit in and maneuver through high school. Like other teens who have limited vision or are blind, they strive to be independent but are unaware of the resources available to them.

They get help along their journey from their Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor Mr. Pre-ETS.  As a mild mannered VR Counselor, Mr. Pre-ETS transforms from his day-to-day appearance into a larger-than-life superhero version of himself…MC-B.  As in any good adventure, they bravely face adversity and overcome obstacles as they take on various quests along their VR journey.

The Quest for Independence has five chapters that focus on five areas of Pre-ETS services. These activities correspond with those laid out in Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA).

  • Chapter 1 focuses on Job Exploration & Counseling. 
  • Chapter 2 explores Work-Based Learning.
  • Chapter 3 explains Transition Counseling.
  • Chapter 4 covers Workplace Readiness.
  • Chapter 5 reviews the importance of Self-Advocacy.
MCB Pre-ETS Best Practice Guide Graphic Novel The Quest for Independence

The Quest for Independence is available as a downloadable PDF that is accessible for screen readers. There are limited large print copies available, and audio versions are available also.

Events for the Pre-ETS Community

Our annual MCB Pre-ETS Visions of Collaboration Conference is held every spring for TVIs, COMS, Special Ed Directors, IEP Team Chairs, Guidance Counselors, and Transition Professionals. This educational event ensures collaboration, communication, and learning for the Pre-ETS Community in Massachusetts. 

In 2021, the MCB Pre-ETS Visions of Collaboration Conference was conducted virtually and included a variety of presentations from professionals who shared their insights and programs with participants.