This week’s session in the UDL course focused on UDL in transition planning.  This really hit home for me as I have been supporting my teenage daughter with significant disabilities through postsecondary transition planning since she was in 5th grade.   The foundation of the Individualized Education Program, Individualized Services Plan, and Individualized Employment Plans developed for Brooke by the schools, community-services board, and rehabilitation services is a person-centered approach:  capturing her unique interests, capabilities, and support needs so she is successful in meeting her post high goals. 

Brooke's Plan

Brooke’s Plan

Traditionally, a transition assessment would rely on time limited paper-based forms, interviews, and community-based instruction/exploration. Given Brooke’s disabilities, she is unable to answer verbally or in writing and will disengage quickly from a process in which she cannot actively participate. The majority of her communication is done through body movement.  With the support of federal language in the reauthorization of IDEA, through a UDL enhanced approach, a portfolio was developed instead of Brooke’s interests that included results from trying a variety of hands on work/situational assessments, pictures, and digital formats to find those career areas in which she was engaged.  This concept is reinforced by experts in the field of UDL, including Smith (2003) who wrote that “the requirements of vocational evaluation – to use multiple sources and multiple methods to gain multiple outcomes that will assist participants – naturally align with UDL philosophy, tenets, and principles.”

In looking further at Brooke’s transition experience, through assessment examples using the UDL lens, the transition coordinator:

Principle 1: provide multiple means of representation

  • Connected Brooke with volunteer opportunities at a dog rescue and kennel to explore hands on what it means to be in a career working with animals, and ysed a guitar, youtube videos, and iPad apps for pianos, to explore her interest in music
  • Explored for community career ideas

Principle 2: provide multiple means of action and expression

  • Used several apps on an iPad (i.e., ProLoQuo, Tap to Talk) allowing Brooke opportunities to express, beyond her behavior, choices in items presented. 
  • Presented career interest inventories on the computer or through apps (i.e., Career Assessment, Career Test)

App shot 2App shot 1

Principle 3: provide multiple means of engagement

  • Created a powerpoint with photos from exploration done with Brooke at a number of community settings involving work with animals (dog rescue, SPCA, pet store) to show the IEP team her interests and to document how she worked towards career related IEP goals


Smith, F. G. (2003). Universal design for learning and vocational evaluation: Recognizing the parallels. The National Issues Forum Papers:  2003 Proceedings. Retrieved from

4 responses »

  1. Let me begin by saying I love your display of interesting information and its content. I embrace your information and appreciate your reflection on such a personal level. In our time of poor economics-it is difficult to find work, but I am so encouraged that the importance does not rely on the pay check, but the community setting and the fact that they are contributing on a volunteer basis.
    I would like to see transition services of some type for all individuals-with and without disabilities. Young adults are not ready, I feel that we are doing a disservice for our youth by not better preparing them.
    Portfolios are also used in West Virginia, I always begin early transition at 5th grade, never to early!!

  2. Mary says:

    Thanks for sharing Brooke’s Plan – and the process she used to develop it. Great to hear that, with your support, Brooke has been planning for life after IEP’s since 5th grade.

    How important it is to identify what matters most to our young people – and to give them opportunities to try out various interests, experiences, and environments.

    By capturing this important information over time in some sort of powerpoint or portfolio, and planning next steps toward goals – we can support our youth to create lives they love!

    Perhaps you’ll find some of these free transition planning tools helpful. All the best to you and Brooke!

  3. Mary says:

    PS – Might I be able to share the graphic of Brooke’s Plan – along with a link to this post – on my blog Life After IEPs?
    Please let me know at

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