Experts on challenges of youth with disabilities to convene at Alabama Transition Conference

AUBURN – During the nineteenth annual Alabama Transition Conference, state and national experts will focus on ways to prepare youth with disabilities for the challenges of adulthood. The conference takes place March 2-3 at the Auburn Marriott Opelika Hotel and Conference Center at Grand National. It is hosted by the Auburn Transition Leadership Institute, a research and outreach extension of the Auburn University College of Education.

“The conference will bring together people and organizations with the expertise to help young adults with disabilities as they seek employment or continue their education,” said Karen Rabren, director of the Auburn Transition Leadership Institute and an associate professor in Auburn’s Department of Special Education, Rehabilitation, Counseling/School Psychology. “It will focus on supporting Alabama’s school systems, agencies, employers and communities in helping youth reach their goals.”

Workshop topics will include employment, education, social networking and interagency collaboration on behalf of youth and young adults with disabilities.

The keynote address will be presented by the Reader’s Digest “2008 Best of America Dream Team,” a group of five women from central Georgia who overcame adversity, graduated from college and became not only special education teachers, but also an inspiration to the youth of their community. The “Dream Team” includes Ellen Porter-Levert, Mavis Crawford, Patricia De’Shazior Hill, Letitia Lewis and Cheryl Best.

Also on the program are vocalist and Odenville native Daniel Ray, a disabilities advocate, and speaker Aaron Mickel, a senior from Shades Valley High School in Birmingham, a participant in the 2007-08 “My Voice” self-determination project and a member of the Jefferson County Transition Team.

In stressing the importance of helping youth with disabilities prepare for a difficult job market, Rabren cites a study released by the U.S. Department of Labor in January showing the unemployment rate for persons with disabilities at 13.2 percent. She said it is important to determine if they have equal access to jobs and opportunities and if they are prepared.

Diane Glanzer, administrator of outreach programs for the Auburn Transition Leadership Institute, said the transition process is collaborative and requires the support not only of students and teachers, but also rehabilitation counselors, job coaches, employers and parents.

Conference registration opens Monday, March 2, at 10 a.m. with workshops beginning at 1 p.m.

To learn more about the 2009 Alabama Transition Conference and for a schedule of events, go to For the Auburn Transition Leadership Institute home page, go to

Contact: Troy Johnson, (334) 844-4468 (,
Diane Glanzer, (334) 844-2105 (, or
Mike Clardy, (334) 844-9999 (