Helping Students with Disabilities Transition to College and Careers

Helping Students with Disabilities Transition to College and Careers
Helping Students with Disabilities Transition to College and Careers


Research and experience point to the importance of high quality transition services in preparing students with disabilities for college, careers, and other positive post-school outcomes, and this webinar will highlight research, policies, and programs that have helped students with disabilities transition successfully. Presenters will include Dr. Michael Wehmeyer, Professor, Department of Special Education, University of Kansas, who has been a leader in issues of self-determination, transition, access to the general education curriculum for students with severe disabilities, and technology use by people with cognitive disabilities; Johnny Collett, Office of Next Generation Learning, Division of Learning Services, Kentucky Department of Education, who will discuss how the Kentucky education offices have reorganized to ensure that students with disabilities are fully integrated into their efforts to improve college and career readiness; and Allison Chase, Florida State Director of High School High Tech, a program that provides high school students with all types of disabilities the opportunity to explore jobs or postsecondary education leading to technology-related careers and links them to a broad range of academic, career development and experiential resources and experiences that will enable them to meet the demands of the 21st century workforce.

Presenter Biographies

For nearly twenty years, Allison Chase’s career has centered on public policy and programming for employment of people with disabilities.  She has been recognized as an emerging leader in the field at the state, national, and international levels.  She has represented Florida on the Council of State Administrators for Vocational Rehabilitation Employment Committees regionally and nationally.  In 2004, Allison was invited by the Japanese government, as one of four representatives from the United States, to participate in a review of their contracting process for providing employment services to individuals with disabilities.


Allison has worked in the public, private, and non-profit sectors giving her a 360 degree perspective of the field.  She has both her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Rehabilitation Services from Florida State University, and completed the National Executive Leadership Institute for rehabilitation leaders at the University of Oklahoma in 1999.

Currently, Allison works for The Able Trust, Florida Endowment Foundation for Vocational Rehabilitation, as the State Director of the High School High Tech Program, a program that encourages youth with disabilities to pursue careers in the STEM fields.

Allison is an active volunteer in her local community with Junior Achievement, Hospice, and the public library children’s literacy program.  In her spare time, she enjoys reading, golfing, and cooking for friends and family.


Johnny W. Collett is a graduate of the University of Kentucky and Georgetown College (KY). He has been with the Kentucky Department of Education (KDE) since 2008 and currently serves as Director for the Division of Learning Services (DLS). Johnny has previously served as an Interim Division Director, Assistant Division Director and Exceptional Children Consultant at the KDE. Prior to coming to the KDE, he served eight years as a classroom teacher in Scott County (KY) Schools, working primarily with students with disabilities. Johnny is married and has three children (18 yrs., 12 yrs., and 8 yrs.).



Dr. Joseph R. Harris, Managing Researcher at the American Institutes for Research, has an extensive background in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) reform as both a practitioner and researcher/evaluator, and more than two decades of experience as an administrator and high school teacher in an urban public school environment. Since October 2006 he has served as the Director of the National High School Center, a national research and technical assistance center funded by the U.S. Department of Education to help regions and states address both regular and special education high school issues related to implementing the Elementary and Secondary Education Act provisions.


For the previous 12 years, Dr. Harris served as the Project Manager for a major technical assistance contract, funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) in support of the Systemic Initiatives, a multi-year NSF effort designed to promote improved mathematics, science, and technology education in 100+ state, rural, and urban school districts and regional consortia. Dr. Harris also has lead several K-12 projects, ranging from the Math Science Program Evaluation Advisory Board to a differentiated compensation project for Springfield (MA) public schools.

Dr. Harris has served as project leader on numerous consulting projects in areas such as program evaluation, student assessment, strategic planning, education policy, program equity, minority student achievement, and public/private partnerships that have focused on improved program operations and outcomes.

Prior to joining The McKenzie Group and AIR, Dr. Harris served as an administrator and teacher in the District of Columbia Public Schools. For more than a decade, he coordinated the development, implementation, and operation of an automated instructional management system and played a major role in the development and implementation of the district’s five-year computer literacy plan.

Dr. Harris holds a B.A. in Mathematical Statistics from the University of Florida, an M.A. in Secondary Education from the Catholic University of America, and a Ph.D. in Education Policy from the University of Maryland, College Park.


Michael L. Wehmeyer, Ph.D. is Professor of Special Education; Director, Kansas University Center on Developmental Disabilities; and Associate Director, Beach Center on Disability, all at the University of Kansas.  Dr. Wehmeyer is engaged in teacher personnel preparation in and has directed federally funded projects totaling in excess of $25 million conducting research and model development pertaining to the education and support of youth and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities.  He is the author of 285 peer-reviewed journal articles or book chapters and has authored or edited 30 books on disability and education related issues, including issues pertaining to self-determination, positive psychology, transition to adulthood, the education and inclusion of students with severe disabilities, and technology use by people with cognitive disabilities.  He is co-author of the widely used textbook Exceptional Lives:  Special Education in Today’s Schools, published by Merrill/Prentice Hall, now in its 7th Edition.  His most recent book, co-authored with J. David Smith, is Good Blood, Bad Blood: Science, Nature, and the Myth of the Kallikaks, published by the American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (AAIDD).


Dr. Wehmeyer is Past-President of the Board of Directors for and a Fellow of AAIDD; a past president of the Council for Exceptional Children’s Division on Career Development and Transition (DCDT); a Fellow of the American Psychological Association (APA), Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Division (Div. 33); and Vice-President for the Americas and a Fellow of the International Association for the Scientific Study of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (IASSIDD).  He is former Editor-in-Chief of the journal Remedial and Special Education and is the founding Co-Editor of the AAIDD journal Inclusion.  He is a co-author of the AAIDD Supports Intensity Scale, and the 2010 AAIDD Intellectual Disability Terminology, Classification, and Systems of Supports Manual.  In 1999 Dr. Wehmeyer was the inaugural recipient of the Distinguished Early Career Research Award from the Council for Exceptional Children’s Division for Research, and he has received research awards fromCEC’s Division on Autism and Developmental Disabilities and Division on Career Development and Transition, Region V of the AAIDD, the Kansas Federation of CEC, and, in 2004, from the University of Kansas School of Education, as well as receiving the 2003 AAIDD National Education award.


From 2010 to 2011, Dr. Wehmeyer was the Gene A. Budig Teaching Professor in Special Education in the Department of Special Education at the University of Kansas.  Dr. Wehmeyer is a frequent speaker, including internationally, and holds undergraduate and Masters degrees in special education from the University of Tulsa and a Masters degree in experimental psychology from the University of Sussex in Brighton, England, where he was a Rotary International Fellow.  He earned his Ph.D. in Human Development and Communication Sciences from the University of Texas at Dallas.


Recommended Resources

Click here to view the slide deck from this Webinar»

Click here to view this Webinar recording on AYPF’s YouTube Channel»

Presenter Information

Allison Chase

Florida State Director, High School High Tech

The Able Trust

3320 Thomasville Road

Suite 200

Tallahassee, FL 32308



Johnny Collett

Office of Next Generation Learners

Division of Learning Services, Kentucky Department of Education

500 Metro Street, 18th Floor

Frankfort, KY 40601



Joe Harris


American Institutes for Research (AIR)

1000 Thomas Jefferson Street, NW

Washington, DC 20007


Dr. Michael Wehmeyer

Professor, Department of Special Education

University of Kansas

1200 Sunnyside Avenue, 3101 Haworth Hall

Lawrence, KS 66045-7601

(785) 864-0723



The American Youth Policy Forum (AYPF), a nonprofit, nonpartisan professional development organization based in Washington, DC, provides learning opportunities for policy leaders, practitioners, and researchers working on youth and education issues at the national, state, and local levels. AYPF events and publications are made possible by contributions from philanthropic foundations. For a complete list, click here.