Deaf - Hard of Hearing

Secondary Transition

  • May 18th, 2011
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Secondary transition is the process of preparing students for life after they leave high school, including participation in post-secondary education or training, employment, and community living. These three areas are often referred to as “post-secondary outcomes” and are the driving force behind Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) written for students in high school.

Transition can be challenging for any student, however students with hearing loss may have additional needs to be considered by the educational team such as communication, self advocacy, support services, and assistive technology. Additional opportunities for career awareness exploration may be needed as students with hearing loss often miss out on the incidental learning available to students without hearing loss.

Resources related to Secondary Transition are available on the PaTTAN website.

PaTTAN recently launched the Pennsylvania Secondary Transition Guide website, which contains resources for students, families, and educators.

Self Determination and Advocacy

As students move through the educational system, they begin to engage in self-exploration about their identity as a person with a hearing loss. This process may require direct instruction of specific skills to help students find out about themselves and identify future goals. In addition, as they become more active in their community and join the work force, they will develop a thorough understanding of laws that influence their rights in order to be able to advocate for themselves effectively and appropriately (Americans with Disabilities Act). Unlike the IEP process where the team members, including the participating student, identify the accommodations and modifications needed for the student’s school success, when transitioning out to the workforce or postsecondary setting, the student becomes responsible for advocating for his or her own needs.

Career Awareness and Exploration

Opportunities for career education which include academic instruction, daily living skills, community experiences, and vocational experiences help students identify potential career paths. There need to be education and services while the student is involved within the school setting,in addition to linkages with adult support systems in the community. Some of the support systems include work-study programs, post-secondary institutions, PA Office of Vocational Rehabilitation, and Social Security.

Post-secondary Education

The journey to post-secondary education begins well before a student enters high school. There are many aspects to consider such as career choice, accommodations, disability awareness, financial aid, and social skills to name just a few. Extensive resources to assist a student and his/her family can be found on the PA Secondary Transition Guide website. Resources specific to students with hearing loss are also available on this site.

While on the website, check out the summer programs available which provide an opportunity for students to live on campus, attend classes and participate in activities focused on preparing for university life and academic studies. The Office of Vocational Rehabilitation, Bureau of Vocational Rehabilitation Services (BVRS) in partnership with and Bureau of Special Education’s Pennsylvania Training and Technical Assistance Network (PaTTAN) and The Pennsylvania State University are pleased to offer the Summer Academy for Students who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing: Enhancing Independence Skills for Students Transitioning to Post-Secondary Education. It will be held July 9 through July 21, 2017, at Penn State University, State College, PA. Applications are available at

Resources for financing college are available through a variety of resources: state and federal agencies, scholarships and awards and local organizations. Your local Rehabilitation Counselor for the Deaf at your local Office of Vocational Rehabilitation is able to assist you.


Organizations which may provide information to the student and/or family:
PA Office for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing
ADA National Network
National Association of the Deaf
Hearing Loss Association of America
Connecting the Disability Community to Information and Opportunities
Alexander Graham Bell Association for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing

The Pennsylvania Deaf-Hard of Hearing Pennsylvania Transition Timeline with Resources

The Pennsylvania Deaf-Hard of Hearing Pennsylvania Transition Timeline* with Resources is a checklist broken down by age category (12-21) that families and educators can use to stay on target during the transition process. Embedded within the checklist are resources complimentary to each component. Families and professionals may use this document for easily locating those resources necessary to complete the good action planning associated with transition planning. These resources are matched to an original timeline created through the Interdisciplinary Transition Team Initiative (ITTI) as a “checklist” and corresponding to the various ages of transition planning. This transition timeline with resources is a living document and will be updated on an as needed basis. Please check back periodically to make sure you have the most up to date version, as new links and transition resources will be added as they are identified.
Created by S. Morgan Morrow – New York Deaf-Blind Collaborative. Adapted by PaTTAN DHH Initiative
The Pennsylvania Deaf-Hard of Hearing Pennsylvania Transition Timeline with Resources

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  • Jane Freeman
    Deaf/Hard of Hearing, Leadership, Secondary Transition, Educational Interpreters, Deaf-Blind
  • Sue Ann Houser
    Deaf/Hard of Hearing, Reading, Deaf-Blind
  • Michelle Andros
    Deaf/Hard of Hearing, Secondary Transition, Deaf-Blind
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