Author ORCID Identifier

Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

LaRon A. Scott

Second Advisor

Christine Spence

Third Advisor

Colleen Thoma

Fourth Advisor

Holly Whittenburg


Black students with high incidence disabilities have some of the most concerning postsecondary transition outcomes compared to their White and nondisabled peers (Awsumb et al., 2020; Hussar et al., 2020; Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission [JLARC], 2020). Different government reports cited the lack of collaborative practices and various transition researchers imply the need for culturally responsive practices when supporting Black students (Federal Partners in Transition [FPT], 2015; Government Accountability Office [GAO], 2012; Thoma et al., 2016). To address these gaps in the literature, this study explored the collaborative and culturally responsive practices of transition professionals to support Black students with high incidence disabilities.

Data was collected using multimethod qualitative focus groups and follow-up interviews to gain deeper insight into how transition professionals support Black students with disabilities and explore collaborative and culturally responsive practices during transition service delivery. There were a total of 18 participants in this study. Six special education teachers, seven transition specialists, and five vocational rehabilitation (VR) counselors. Participants were in focus groups based on their roles, so there were three focus groups in total. In the focus groups, participants were asked to describe collaboration and use of culturally responsive transition practices. Through constant comparative analysis to build a coding scheme, themes were created. The themes that emerged from the data included: (a) willingness to learn and teach; (b) recognizing personal and systemic issues related to Black students’ transition for education and employment; (c) discipline-specific promising/research/ evidence-based transition practices; (d) flexible learning opportunities; (e) student voice; (f) equity versus equality for practicing; (g) limited resources and economic issues; (h) workplace disorganization; and (i) education, training, and knowledge.

Findings indicated there is a significant lack of understanding of culturally responsive practices and the application of both culturally responsive practices and collaboration. The implications of the lack of understanding about the role of race in individualizing transition practices for Black students with disabilities reveals racial identity during transition may not be a priority for some participants. The findings highlighted the importance of research, policy, and practice for understanding the intersections of race and disability to fully support Black students with high incidence disabilities.


© Amber Ruiz

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