A new law called the Workforce Innovations and Opportunity Act (WIOA) requires that Vocational Rehabilitation Services provide pre-employment transition services to all students with disabilities. 

These services prepare students with disabilities for college and employment. They include: 

  • Job exploration counseling, 
  • Work-based learning experiences, 
  • Counseling about opportunities after high school, 
  • Training to develop social and independent living skills, and
  • Training in self-advocacy.


The services are available to any student with a disability, including students in public high schools or homeschools, colleges or universities, or other non-traditional education programs (such as residential treatment or juvenile justice education programs).  

To be eligible for the services, a student must: 

  1. Be in an education program; 
  1. Be between 14 and 21 years old; and  
  1. Have proof of a disability.  

WIOA uses the same definition of “disability” used in the Rehabilitation Act: a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits a major life activity. The goal of using a broader definition of disability is to increase eligibility for the services. A student does not have to receive special education services (have an IEP or 504 plan) or receive SSI benefits to be eligible for these services. The hope is that these services will help improve the low employment rate of people with disabilities. 

Pre-employment transition services: Frequently Asked Questions

How do I get pre-employment transition services?

The North Carolina Division of Vocational Rehabilitation Services (DVRS) and the Division of Services for the Blind (DSB) are responsible for making pre-employment transition services available statewide. It is not a student or parent’s responsibility to request services in most educational programs; it is the responsibility of DVRS and DSB to coordinate with education programs to make services available to all eligible students.  This includes attending Individualized Education Program (IEP) meetings whenever invited. DVRS and DSB are not required to conduct outreach to homeschooled or other nontraditional students; these students need to initiate contact with these agencies to begin services. 

I’m not receiving services. Who do I contact?

Anyone, including a student, may request the services by contacting the local DVRS or DSB office. There is no application process to receive pre-employment transition services.  

How do I request more individualized transition services?

Pre-employment transition services may be provided in group or individualized settings. If group services do not meet a student’s transition needs, the student may receive more individualized services by contacting their local DVRS or DSB office and applying for the Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) program.  

What is the “No Comparable Services” requirement?

Before providing pre-employment transition services, DVRS and DSB will verify that a student cannot receive comparable services from other sources. For instance, DVRS and DSB will not provide job exploration counseling if the student is already receiving this service from their school. To be “comparable,” the services must meet the student’s pre-employment transition needs. 

What is the community-based settings requirement

Work-based learning experiences must be provided in integrated community settings to the maximum extent possible. DVRS and DSB must exhaust all opportunities for placing students in integrated community work settings before considering segregated work settings, such as a sheltered workshop.  

How do I appeal a decision DVRS or DSB makes?

Students with disabilities have a right to appeal any decisions DVRS or DSB make about their pre-employment transition services. The Client Assistance Program (CAP) is responsible for helping to resolve disputes. This may include legal advocacy if the dispute has merit and alternative resolutions have proved unsuccessful. Contact CAP by calling 919-855-3600, 1-800-215-7227 (toll free), or send an email to NCCAP@dhhs.nc.gov. A student also may call Disability Rights NC if CAP is not helpful in resolving the dispute. 

View the Transition Planning Checklist for Students with Disabilities