College of Education and College of Applied Health Sciences

Illinois Center for Transition and Work

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2022 ICTW Symposium Schedule of Events
ICTW Symposium / ICTW Symposium Schedule

Concurrent sessions are open enrollment; no advanced sign-up is required. 

Instructional sessions during the ICTW Symposium
are eligible for professional development credit. Educators can earn up to 9.25 ISBE-approved Professional Development Hours (PDHs) and vocational professionals may earn up to 9.5 Commission on Rehabilitation Counselor Certification (CRCC) continuing education units (CEUs).

Download a Illinois Conference Center map.

Thursday, April 13

7:30-8:30 a.m. Registration

Coffee, tea and water available in the Chancellor Ballroom.

8:30-8:45 a.m. Welcome

Stacy K. Dymond, Ph.D., University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
David R. Strauser, Ph.D., University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
Location: Chancellor Ballroom

8:45-9:45 a.m. Keynote Address  |  Carol Schall, Ph.D.

Pathways to Employment for Youth and Young Adults with Autism
Location: Chancellor Ballroom  Download slides   |  Watch the recording

Achieving competitive integrated employment continues to be a challenge facing youth with autism. Nevertheless, existing research demonstrates successful supports that enable individuals with autism to realize integrated employment. In this session, Dr. Carol Schall will present research on the impact of internships, supported employment, and customized employment on employment outcomes for youth with autism. She will also include a discussion of the behavioral methods used to support youth and young adults with autism in the transition from school to work.

9:45-10 a.m. Break

Cinnamon rolls, pecan rolls, coffee, tea and water available in the Chancellor Ballroom.

10-11 a.m. Breakout Sessions

  • Interagency Collaboration in Supporting Youth with Disabilities: National Study Findings
    Leslie A. Shaw, Ph.D., Yang Tan Institute, Cornell University
    Kimberly J. Osmani, Yang Tan Institute, Cornell University
    Location: Quad Room

    The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA, 2014) places renewed emphasis on meaningful collaboration among the workforce development system, vocational rehabilitation (VR), and others (U.S. Department of Education, 2017), but challenges exist in coordinating workforce development with VR, education, social security, juvenile justice, foster care, developmental disability agencies, mental health systems, and other agencies likely to serve youth with one of WIOA’s defined “barriers to employment.” To understand collaborative practices of youth and adult systems serving youth with disabilities, we surveyed individuals across the country and conducted 10 focus groups. Using a new collaboration survey, we found job role and agency type affect ratings. The qualitative findings provide granular detail to support recommended, transferable collaboration practices that supplement survey findings.
  • SWTCIE Illinois: Eliminating Subminimum Wage in Illinois
    Robyn Lewis, Ph.D., Division of Rehabilitation Services
    David R. Strauser, Ph.D., University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
    John F. Kosciulek, Ph.D., University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
    James Knauf, SWTCIE Illinois
    Location: Lincoln Room Download slides

    This presentation will introduce and provide an overview of the Subminimum Wage to Competitive Integrated Employment (SWTCIE) Illinois project which is directed an eliminating subminimum wage across Illinois by promoting competitive integrated employment. 
  • What Are Employers’ Perspectives About Employees with ASD in Competitive Integrated Employment?
    Lindsay S. Athamanah, Ph.D., University of Missouri – St. Louis
    Location: Technology Room  |  Download slides

    Despite efforts to increase the employment of adults with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), opportunities for competitive integrated employment have remained limited (Lysaght et al., 2012; 2017). Nevertheless, employers with previous experience feel that adults with ASD positively affect the workplace and are more likely to hire those with ASD (Athamanah et al., 2022; Huang & Chen, 2015). Furthermore, workplace accommodations and inclusive practices implemented for all employees within a positive organizational culture result in better employee attitudes and support toward those with disabilities (Erickson et al., 2014; Schur et al., 2014). Thus, this study aims to understand that employers’ perspectives and experiences are critical to creating positive organizational and cultural practices to ensure the employment success of adults with ASD.

11-11:15 a.m. Break

Coffee, tea and water available in the Chancellor Ballroom.

11:15 a.m.-12:15 p.m. Breakout Sessions

  • Employability Skills: The Old, the New and the Out of the Blue
    Rasha ElSaheli-Elhage, Ph.D., Chicago State University
    Michael McNicholas,
     MPA, Chicago State University
    Location: Quad Room

    The presentation aims at providing teachers with an opportunity to improve their understanding of employability skills and align their students’ personal employment goals with current market trends. Developing employability skills intends to provide students with professional growth that can improve quality of life. Presenters will share what employers in the current market are looking for and will offer opportunities for the audience to interact through a number of activities planned to illustrate how employability skills translate into the workplace.
  • The Chicago Roadmap: A Citywide Program Enhancing Outcomes for Students with Disabilities
    Dani Smith, City Colleges of Chicago
    Location: Technology Room  Download slides

    This session will discuss a brand new bridge program being implemented in the city of Chicago between Chicago Public Schools and the City Colleges of Chicago. It will include preliminary research and data, current work readiness programming and initiatives, and future steps for students with disabilities, including a brand new credit program for students with intellectual disabilities.
  • The Illinois Department of Human Services, Division of Rehabilitation (IDHS-DRS): A Program Overview
    Erik Hanson, M.A., LCPC, Division of Rehabilitation Services
    Kristin Wagner, 
    M.S., LPC, Division of Rehabilitation Services
    Location: Lincoln Room  |  Download slides 

    This presentation will provide an overview of the Division of Rehabilitation mission and role in the transition school to work process for students with disabilities in the state of Illinois.

12:15-1:30 p.m. Lunch

Lunch buffet provided.

1:30-3 p.m. Panel Discussion

Perspectives on School to Work Transition across the State of Illinois
Barbara Moore, M.A., SSP, Illinois State Board of Education
Rahnee Patrick, M.A., Division of Rehabilitation Services
Location: Chancellor Ballroom  |  Watch the recording

A panel consisting of the directors from two state agencies involved in transition school to work and employment of people with disabilities will provide insights regarding the current issues impact the transition school to work process and competitive integrated employment of people with disabilities in the State of Illinois.  

3-3:45 p.m. Break and Conversation/Poster Session

Location: Chancellor Ballroom and Foyer

Tortilla chips, salsa, assorted soft drinks and water available in the Chancellor Ballroom.

Looking for a place to network, recharge or check your email? The Quad and Technology rooms (in addition to the patio area) will be open during the Conversation and Poster Session. We suggest utilizing these areas when not engaging with a conversation or poster session.


Apprenticeship for High School Students Enrolled in the Secondary Transitional Experience

Paula Bradford
Madison County Regional Office of Education #41

Payton Drury
City of Collinsville

Tony Fuhrmann
Madison County Employment & Training

Darlene Ladd
Madison County Employment & Training

Download slides

The presentation will discuss the development of apprenticeship programs in the Madison County Illinois area. This session will highlight how our team designs and implements apprenticeship programs for students enrolled in special education and our ability to work with federal, state, county, municipal governments and the school district to develop a successful high school apprenticeship program. We will highlight the process, improvements, and successes made during the development of these programs. Participants will learn the process of how to effectively communicate the needs of each party, roles and responsibilities of team members, program criteria, execution of the plan, the importance of analysis, revision, collaboration of all parties and the willingness to adjust the model for greater success in the future.

Best Practices, Challenges and Strategies: Youth Serving Professionals’ Transition Related Professional Development

Kimberly J. Osmani, Ph.D
Cornell University

This discussion will introduce a mixed methods study focused on professional development of youth serving professionals (YSP) conducted by the Center for Advancing Policy on the Employment of Youth. A broad group of professionals who directly or indirectly support youth and young adults with disabilities (Y&YAD) participated in Group Concept Mapping and focus group interviews to identify what YSPs should know or know how to do to effectively support Y&YADs in their employment journey. Over 180 participants were selected from education, higher education, workforce, vocational rehabilitation, juvenile justice and other youth serving fields. Participants will learn about the findings, discuss how they relate to their work, and offer policy or practice implications for hiring, preparing and retaining highly qualified YSPs.

Engaging Community Partners to Develop Meaningful Work-based Learning Opportunities for Students with Disabilities

Jessica Sipovic, M.Ed.
Illinois Center for Transition and Work

This conversation will focus around developing work-based learning (WBL) opportunity in your immediate community. We will discuss strategies, barriers, and actionable steps you can take to engage with employers and establish or expand the WBL opportunities available to students with disabilities. 


Generating Innovative Solutions to Complex Challenges in Transition Programming in Rural Communities

Michele Schutz, Ph.D.
University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

Download resource

When preparing students with disabilities for employment, rural school districts often possess unique assets, such as tight-knit partnerships within their communities. Nonetheless, they also face distinctive challenges, including limited staffing, a lack of local job opportunities or disability services, and minimal transportation and resources. This session will facilitate fruitful discussion among participants around (a) identifying their own pressing challenges in equipping students with disabilities for work in their rural communities and (b) learning from professionals in other similar rural communities who may have developed creative solutions to these very challenges. Additionally, the facilitator will share examples and resources from recent research on equipping students with disabilities with the knowledge, experiences, and linkages needed for meaningful employment in rural communities.

Integrating Mental Health Services to Support Wellness and Employment for Minority Youth

Abeer Sikder, JD
The Council of State Governments

Adene Karhan, LMSW
Yang-Tan Institute on Disability and Employment, Cornell University

During the pandemic, issues of mental health and race were highlighted by youth and policymakers alike. Even in a post-pandemic era, these challenges linger. Access to mental health affects everyone, and has a unique impact on those transitioning to educational opportunities and the workforce. Today's generation of youth face unprecedented challenges that affect their personal, social, and economic livelihood; the impact of these struggles has had devastating effects on their mental health. These challenges are exacerbated for those with additional intersecting social identities, including youth with disabilities and youth who belong to marginalized racial groups.

Transition 14 ½ to 99 with DRS as a Partner

Matthew Landau, M.Ed.
Niles West High School

Download slides

Starting when a student is eligible for transition at the age of 14 ½, we will discuss the full journey of transition. We will touch on areas such as funding support options; creating transition teams to best support students and their roles of the members on the team; data collection for the vocational/job training and best practice for how to partner with DRS to provide individual's life; and  the various living options in the adult with disabilities community and the level of support they can receive; and more. We will identify resources available to support students in the transition process, identify the roles and responsibilities of school and DRS personal in the transition process and discuss the three levels of transition: 14½-18, 18-22, and 22-99.


Where to Begin with Workplace Readiness Instruction

Melanie Phelan, M.Ed.
Illinois Center for Transition and Work

Workplace readiness skills are important to the success of people with disabilities finding and maintaining employment and valued by employers looking to hire people with disabilities. Our conversation will focus on what soft skills are important to teach, how to get employers and parents involved in the process, and examples of what is already being utilized for instruction and practice.


Addressing the Needs of Youth With Disabilities: An Analysis of State Implementation of Pre-Employment Transition Services

Mary Greenfield
The Council of State Governments

The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) requires state Vocational Rehabilitation agencies, in collaboration with local educational agencies, to provide Pre-Employment Transition Services (Pre-ETS) to all students with disabilities in need of services between the ages of 14 and 21 (unless that age has been extended by an individual state). Yet little research has been done on the characteristics of students who participate in Pre-ETS, the formats and locations of services being offered, disparities in Pre-ETS delivery to various populations of students, the challenges education and workforce service providers face in reaching and retaining students in Pre-ETS, and promising strategies for addressing those challenges.

Addressing the Needs of Youth with Disabilities and Other Intersecting Identities

Abeer Sikder, JD
The Council of State Governments

Adene Karhan, LMSW
Yang-Tan Institute on Disability and Employment, Cornell University

Youth and young adults with disabilities (Y&YADs) face significant barriers to accessing employment and are employed at lower rates than their peers without disabilities. Y&YADs with additional intersecting social identities (e.g., those who are experiencing homelessness or who belong to racial or ethnic minority groups) may experience even greater barriers to accessing employment supports and attaining and maintaining employment. Yet Y&YADs can also experience protective factors as a result of their intersecting identities that promote positive outcomes.

Functional Behavior Assessments in the Workplace

Nicole Birri, Ed.D.
Illinois Center for Transition and Work

Work experiences are a positive predictor of post-school success for students with disabilities. However, students who exhibit challenging behavior often have limited access to community-based work experiences. To address challenging behavior in work settings, educators can conduct ecological assessments and functional behavior assessments to develop effective behavior support plan for promoting more appropriate behavior in the workplace for students with disabilities.

Navigating Barriers to Work-Based Learning Experiences: Responses from Special Educators

Hannah Brenner, M.Ed.
University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

Work-based learning experiences (WBLEs) are an integral component of high-quality vocational programming for students with extensive support needs; however, the development and implementation of these experiences can present many challenges for special education teachers. This poster will share findings from a qualitative research study that explored teachers’ perspectives on challenges to providing WBLEs and how they respond to these challenges. Special education teachers participated in semi-structured interviews and shared several ways that they navigate challenges when providing WBLEs. Findings from this study may support other practitioners who provide WBLEs and are facing similar challenges.

Transition Planning for Learners with Extensive Support Needs and Complex Health Care Need

Sarah L. Ballard, Ph.D.
Illinois State University 

Youth with extensive support needs and co-occurring complex health care needs have unique health-related assessment, curriculum, and instruction needs to acquire the skills necessary to access independent living, work, and community participation and inclusion. This presentation will focus on adult transition planning considerations for this population. Topics covered in the poster presentation will highlight research-based strategies to identify how to promote self-management skills in health care through assessment, curriculum, and instruction. Additionally, this poster presentation will highlight how these specific practices can promote self-determination in health care and in turn individually relevant adult transition outcomes. Poster attendees will have opportunities for Q&A and discussion.

Transition Services and Activities for Justice-Involved Youth with Disabilities

Abeer Sikder, JD
The Council of State Governments

Matt Saleh, JD, Ph.D.
Yang-Tan Institute on Employment and Disability, Cornell University

The U.S. Department of Education estimates that between 30-60% of youth involved in the juvenile justice system have a disability. This means that of the 36,000 youth in juvenile facilities in 2019, around 10,000 to 22,000 of them were likely to have a disability. With so many incarcerated youth and young adults with disabilities, the justice system should be prepared to provide the accommodations and supports necessary for youth and young adults with disabilities in its care to access educational and workforce training opportunities.

Vocational Experience for ALL! Creating Work Schedules for Individuals with Significant Disabilities

Dawn Sheppelman
Eugene Field School

Kacy Killian
Eugene Field School

Transition planning is a large part of educational programming for students with disabilities. As students get older, ages 14 and up, vocational instruction becomes an even larger part of their educational programming. For students with significant disabilities, however, planning for vocational instruction can be difficult. There’s an expectation held by society that individuals are gainfully employed and functionally independent upon transitioning from school to adulthood. The challenges associated with successfully preparing students to meet this expectation may be more problematic for individuals with significant disabilities. This highlights the importance of successful transitional planning and vocational programming for students with significant disabilities at the secondary level.

3:45-4:45 p.m. Breakout Sessions

  • Building Meaningful, Data Driven, Work-Based Programs while Addressing Common Barriers to Employment
    Jessica Denst, M.Ed., Chicago Public Schools
    Charmin Howard, 
    SECA 2, Chicago Public Schools
    Katie Morgan, M.Ed., M.A., Chicago Public Schools
    Christine Turner, M.Ed., M.A., Chicago Public Schools
    Location: Technology Room  |  Download slides

    Students with significant disabilities face many challenges to obtain and maintain employment. This session will discuss how to create and implement relevant post-secondary career development for students with significant disabilities. Presenters will discuss ways to apply an array of research-based strategies including ways to identify student interests, assess skill levels, establish community partnerships, seek volunteer and internships to gain experience, create a variety of job sampling opportunities within various career clusters, and scaffold experiences as student skills develop. In addition, attendees will learn how to address common barriers, how to utilize staff to support students, as well as, the use of assessment and data-driven instruction to cultivate a variety of meaningful work-based learning opportunities that are individualized and student-centered.
  • Supporting Individuals with Significant Disabilities in Pursing Self-Employment
    Sarah DeAngelo, University of Illinois Chicago
    Allison Antman, University of Illinois Chicago
    Joanna Keel, Ph.D., University of Illinois Chicago
    Fabricio Balcaza, Ph.D., University of Illinois Chicago
    Location: Quad Room  Download slides

    Individuals with significant disabilities face considerable barriers to employment and bleak overall employment outcomes. The unique needs of transition age youth with significant disabilities may make self-employment a more accessible option in comparison to traditional employment. The Entrepreneurship for Youth with Disabilities (EYD) curriculum provides a flexible framework for professionals to support individuals with significant disabilities to build the necessary skills to pursue self-employment. In this practice session, we will discuss the features of the EYD program that are currently accessible for individuals with significant disabilities and how practitioners can make specific modifications to better suit the individuals they work with. Modifications related to pacing, content, modes of presentation, means of soliciting student feedback, and business planning will be discussed.
  • Using Resource Mapping to Restructure Transition Services in High School
    Dede Gill, Evanston Township High School
    Claire GetzoffEvanston Township High School
    Katrina EngelEvanston Township High School
    Location: Lincoln Room  Download slides

    The presentation will walk participants through the process we are using to Identify and evaluate current structures in place at Evanston Township High School (ETHS) utilized for delivering transition services. We will discuss ways we are utilizing person-centered resource mapping to restructure transition services offered at ETHS. Our goal is to use person-centered resource mapping to write more effective outcomes, gain additional partnerships, and promote independence in all areas of transition programming that will provide earlier and more meaningful outcomes for our students. The presentation will highlight how restructuring our transition services is allowing us to develop a program that leverages student strengths, interests, and supports needed with program and community resources.

Friday, April 14

7:30-8:45 a.m. Registration

Coffee, tea and water available in the Chancellor Ballroom.

8:45-9 a.m. Welcome

Stacy K. Dymond, Ph.D., University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
David R. Strauser, Ph.D., University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
Location: Chancellor Ballroom

9-9:45 a.m. Keynote Address  |  Grace Hou, MPA

The State of the Illinois Department of Human Services: Where We've Been and Where We Are Going
Location: Chancellor Ballroom 

Created in 1997 to provide our Illinois residents with streamlined access to integrated services, the Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) is one of Illinois' largest agencies, with more than 13,000 employees. IDHS is proud of its diversity, efficiency, and the services that the agency and its community partners provide to Illinois citizens. Secretary Grace Hou will provide an overview of IDHS and share the current state of the department and where we are going to go together. Following her address, Secretary Hou will take and answer questions from the audience.

9:45-10 a.m. Break

Donuts, coffee, tea and water available in the Chancellor Ballroom.

10-11 a.m. Breakout Sessions

  • Inclusive Workforce Readiness: Apprenticeships
    Enmanuel Gomez Antolinez, The Council of State Governments
    Dina Klimkina, The Council of State Governments
    Location: Quad Room

    Apprenticeships have long been recognized for their value in allowing apprentices to gain hands-on training and practical on-the-job experience that prepares them for and can catapult them into the world of work. Workforce development experts in the United States and around the world have long recognized the value of apprenticeships in helping businesses develop highly-skilled employees. Inclusive apprenticeship programs are highly beneficial to students, states, and employers. This presentation will outline the value of apprenticeships for exceptional youth with disabilities, provide examples of various strategies states have taken to make apprenticeship programs more inclusive, and identify areas ripe for apprenticeship expansion.
  • Moving Beyond Field Trips - A Comprehensive Approach to Effective Community-based Instruction
    Hana Ayele, M.A., Southside Occupational Academy
    Jennifer Bollinger, M.A., Southside Occupational Academy
    Joshua Long, M.S., Southside Occupational Academy
    Location: Technology Room  Download slides

    Participants will be provided examples of a tiered community-based instruction program during this session. Using picture and video examples of Southside Occupational Academy’s various programs, presenters will show the progression of skill development, starting with the classroom, extending to the school community, and then culminating in a community-based work internship. Examples of best practices will include; videos and pictures of the school environment, student testimonials, teacher testimonials, and community-based internship experiences. Participants will have time to work through problems of practice and identify key takeaways for their district, school, agency, and/or community.
  • Transition to Employment: An Employer-Led Innovative Project
    Kurt A. Schneider, Ph.D., TrueNorth Educational Cooperative
    Location: Lincoln Room  |  Download slides
    Employer engagement is often seen as a barrier to employment for individuals with disabilities. While employers do have concerns regarding recruitment, selection, social integration, and managing of employees with disabilities, many employers are willing to hire employees with disabilities. The barrier is guiding employers in identifying potential employees with disabilities. Often, we (professionals in the field) create this barrier by approaching employers with different messages and talking about a “programs” rather than a value added to the business. The presenters will discuss a unique project, led by a local chamber of commerce and education consortium, to re-frame ways to partner with employers and develop long standing relationships that lead to career opportunities for students and young adults with disabilities.

11-11:15 a.m. Break

Coffee, tea and water available in the Chancellor Ballroom.

11:15 a.m.-12:15 p.m. Breakout Sessions

  • Effective Strategies to Assist Youth with Autism and Significant Support Needs in the Transition from School to Employment
    Carol Schall, Ph.D., Virginia Commonwealth University
    Location: Chancellor Ballroom Download slides

    This breakout session will be a follow-up to the keynote session where Dr. Carol Schall will provide more in-depth information regarding the specific types of supports used to increase the inclusion of youth with autism in Pre-Employment Transition Services (Pre-ETS) and High School Community Based Employment Training (CBET). Work-related behavior and social skills are critical to employment success yet can be challenging for youth with significant support needs to obtain. Dr. Schall will demonstrate how evidence-based strategies can be used to increase social skills and improve competitive, integrated employment outcomes. This session she will describe the "nuts and bolts" of providing evidence-based instructional and behavioral strategies in Pre-ETS and CBET.
  • Virtual Interview Training as an Enhancement to Pre-Employment Transition Services
    Matthew J. Smith, Ph.D., MSW, MPE, LCSW University of Michigan
    Location: Lincoln Room

    In 2017, Virtual Interview Training (VIT) for Transition Age Youth was developed via a partnership between scientists, a community advisory board from the disability community, and with feedback and recommendations from 21 autistic young adults and 24 additional members from the autism community. Since its development VIT has been evaluated in two large scale studies, among 71 autistic transition-age youth and among 356 transition-age youth with autism and other disabilities across 47 schools and more than 60 special education teachers. Findings suggest that VIT improves job interview skill, reduces interview anxiety, and improves access to competitive employment. This breakout session will review the prior findings of VIT, provide an interactive VIT demonstration, and discuss recommended practices for the field.
  • Work-Ready Skills Targets for Students with Significant Disabilities
    Anna AzevedoUniversity of Missouri
    Location: Quad Room   Download slides  |  Work-ready Behavior Framework

    Many students with significant disabilities do not enter the workforce following graduation. Inflexible work environments, minimal exposure and training, and lack of expectations all contribute to individuals not seeking employment. This presentation will provide concrete skills targets to prepare students for employment. This work centers around the philosophy that in order to equip students for work-readiness, adults must encourage independence and autonomy at all levels of the learning process. Ultimately, this work aims to empower families and educators to give individuals with significant disabilities the tools to have greater skills, independence, and choice in the workforce.