Breaking Down Barriers: Successful Transition Planning for Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Exceptional Students

Kara F Halley, Michele Terese Trujillo


While transition services provided to the majority of students with disabilities may be seen as beneficial and as having the potential to lead to positive post-school outcomes, involvement and expectations of several students’ families are taking a backseat to the involvement and expectations of professionals in this process. Discrepancies between family and school expectations and desires can only lead to the failure of students’ transition plans. It is increasingly more likely that service providers who develop individual education plans and collaborate on transition planning teams will work with culturally and linguistically diverse students and families. Despite growing diversity in our school systems, many legal mandates and transition components are based on European-American cultural beliefs regarding disability, optimal post-school outcomes, and how best to achieve these outcomes. These beliefs about disability and post-school outcomes are not necessarily shared by all cultures, and thus, cultural conflicts are quite probable when service providers simply comply with transition mandates.  This article addresses the challenges that culturally diverse families face as they go through the transition process of their children with disabilities as well as discusses practices that will lead to more successful transition planning for these students and their families.


cultural diversity; disabilities; transition planning

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