Youth with disabilities face many challenges as they move from secondary education to competitive employment, postsecondary education and training, and community participation. Families play a vital role in supporting youth during this transition, often functioning as a young person’s first, most knowledgeable, and most consistent “case manager,” who not only assists with service coordination and career exploration, but also provides transportation, housing, and other supports.
One vital aspect of a successful transition for youth with disabilities that is often overlooked is appropriate disability disclosure. When youth are in the secondary school system, they are participating in a system of entitlement, where educational services for youth with disabilities are required by Federal law. Once a youth moves to adult systems, whether they are disability-focused or not, there are eligibility criteria that have to be met to receive services. Many youth and families are confused when they move from a world where supports were automatically available to a world with new and unfamiliar adult eligibility requirements. Adding to the confusion, adult services are often provided through multiple agencies with differing eligibility. Often, disclosure is the key to accessing adult services and the kinds of disability-related accommodations from postsecondary settings and in employment a young person received in special education. Therefore, families and advocates need to help youth understand the importance of disclosure and work to prepare youth to disclose appropriately.
This InfoBrief highlights NCWD-Youth’s The 411 on Disability Disclosure and explores the role families and advocates play in helping youth understand the importance of appropriate disability disclosure.