The New York Institute For Special Education

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· Serving Students with Special Needs since 1831 ·

Preparing Students for Independence

Transition Programs

For students in our Schermerhorn program, we serve as the final step on their educational ladder before moving on to college or launching their careers. Given the diverse and multilayered needs of our students, it is our job to ensure they are prepared for this transition long before they receive their diplomas.


Central to these efforts is our Vocation/Transition Specialist Mary Catechis who coordinates our Transition Programs. Serving blind and visually impaired Juniors and Seniors in the Schermerhorn program, these programs are outlined below and are vital to helping make our students post-graduate transition as seamless as possible.


We're proud to share that each year nearly 100% of our Juniors and Seniors are successfully placed in an internship, have secured a job or have been accepted and plan to attend a college or university. 

Youth Employment Strategies (YES) Program

(Click here to learn how HKS is responding to the COVID-19 Pandemic)


Facilitated by Helen Keller Services (HKS), YES is a 20-week afterschool exploratory vocational training program offered at NYISE to help our blind and visually impaired students develop their internship and job readiness skills. 


Core program components include:


  • Hands-on training and tools for practical uses of assistive technology in the workplace;
  • Internship and job interview training, including mock interviews with staff from NYISE, HKS, and Visions;
  • Individualized instruction on how to conduct online research for an internship and/or employment;
  • Targeted workshops addressing how to create, customize. and successfully submit a resume and cover letter, and 
  • Intensive PC based technology instruction to maximize the use of assistive software (JAWS and ZoomText).


Secondary program components include:


  • Field trips to visit entrepreneurs and local businesses, including The Two Blind Brothers and JCPenny; 
  • A $300 grant-funded gift card for each student to use to purchase professional attire in preparation for interviews;
  • Opportunities to meet successful professionals who are blind or visually impaired, including Nektarious Paisios of Google Chrome's Accessibility team, and
  • Based on availability, each student can also receive a free computer with a special keyboard that is preloaded with blind software based on the specific visual needs of each student. (When grant funds allow, HKS donates computers purchased with grant funds as part of the YES program. Students take their computer home after their completion of the program to ensure they have access to the technology they will need to continue to develop their skills). 


As a result of participation in the program, students:


  • Develop their first professional network;
  • Learn about social entrepreneurship, resiliency, and perseverance;
  • Secure employment and/or an internship in a field of their interest;
  • Expand their understanding of areas of study that are available should they pursue higher education;
  • Strengthen their competitive edge when applying to colleges during their senior year;
  • Gain an understanding of what job readiness entails and how to put this knowledge into action;
  • Build awareness of the professional world and the vast career paths available and attainable to them;
  • become empowered to aim high and prepare themselves for success with increased confidence, maturity, and enthusiasm.


Special thanks to Youth Program Manager is Kandyce Turner and Technology Instructor is Mohamed Rihan of Helen Keller Services for facilitating the program through the sponsorship of the New York State Commission for the Blind.

College Fair 


Each fall, NYISE hosts a College Fair for our students and their parents. Providing an opportunity for them to meet representatives from local colleges and Universities, including CUNY, SUNY, Lehman College, Dominican College, St. Thomas Aquinas College, and College of Mt. Saint Vincent. Representatives from Perkins, Visions, Learning Ally and the New York Commission for the Blind are also present to answer questions about scholarships and provide tips for the transition from high school to college. 


2019 College Fair

2018 College Fair

College Now

(Click here to learn how College Now is responding to the COVID-19 pandemic)


NYISE students participate in the NYC Department of Education's College Now program, a free college transition/dual enrollment program for city high school students. By participating in this program, our students can earn college credits at Hostos Community College in their Junior and Senior in high school.


As per the College Now website, through participation in the program, participating students "can start their first semester in college with up to fifteen college credits – or, at minimum, begin college without remediation. On average, College Now alumni transfer more credits to CUNY (4.72 vs. 0.70), earn more credits in their first semester (11.51 vs. 8.73), and have a higher GPA after their first semester when compared to students who do not participate in the program. The academic momentum they gain persists through graduation as College Now alumni have an eight percent higher three-year associate degree and six-year bachelor's degree completion rate in CUNY than those who did not participate in the program." 

Starlight Cafe

(The Starlight Cafe currently closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic)


Our on-campus store provides students with a first time experience in managing a small business. Together with NYISE staff, students learn budgeting, time-management, and customer service skills by selling merchandise throughout the year. The store is only accessible to their fellow students and staff who frequent it throughout the year for special themed events, sales, and holiday celebrations.