Bread, Rice, or Tostada: Cultural Inclusion at The Transition Table, Part 1: Why it Matters

Dining table with food and drinks. # bowls filled with rice and vegetables

Editor‚Äôs note: Bread, Rice, or Tostada: Cultural Inclusion at The Transition Table was written by: Ann Wai-Yee Kwong, Daisy Soto, and Jovany Barba. In Part 1: Why It Matters, the authors explore the importance of taking diversity into consideration during transition planning for blind and low-vision youth. Click here to read the full article.  

Some people make sandwiches using bread for lunch while others enjoy tostadas with ceviche. I however usually enjoy a rice dish with meat and vegetables. Lunch choices are very personal! They‚Äôre often the result of how someone was raised, their cultural values and background, and any dietary circumstances and needs. We all know there is not one ‚Äúright‚ÄĚ diet for everyone and we realize that judging an individual‚Äôs lunch choice is generally not going to be received with appreciation.   

Similar to food choices, there are many factors impacting how blind or low vision youth and their families view transition. We invite you to explore how transition goals are highly individualized, need to be developed to meet the needs of individuals within their family and social frameworks, and should have unique objectives and different tools for every blind and low vision person as they navigate the transition from high school to adult life. 

Why This Matters 

One of the core conversations in school and transition planning revolves around the idea of independence and the importance of mastering independent living skills. The blind, low vision, and broader disability community has traditionally placed great importance on mastering independent living skills. Students are told they need to learn how to safely cook, efficiently travel, and manage and clean their homes to be successful. 

The default transition goal of living independently from nuclear or extended family is intended to equip our youth to achieve the ultimate ‚ÄúAmerican dream‚ÄĚ of moving away from home and gaining additional freedoms. But this transition outcome, based on the Western value of individualism, may be different than the expectations of the student and their family (Cage, 2019; Zhang, 2005; Zhang & Rosen 2018).  

Cultural Values 

Cultural values of students and families must be considered in order to facilitate successful transition outcomes. 

According to data from the 2014-2018 American Community Survey, an estimated 22.0% to 44.5% of the population speak a language other than English in the home. As the United States continues to increase in diversity, it is important for educators, families, and students to realize that each of us has a unique perspective.  

Independence According to Cultural Values 

So, what does independence mean?  

It turns out there isn‚Äôt one way to define it. 

To many in the Latinx community, it means establishing one‚Äôs individuality while remaining interconnected to the family unit. To many in Asian communities, it means being able to contribute to one’s family. These communities tend to value collectivism and community; self-reliance is achieved in order to promote family advancement (Conroy, 2006; Zhang & Rosen 2018).  

While in school, I was never asked how I envisioned my ‚Äúindependence‚ÄĚ after high school. In an effort to develop appropriate transition goals, students and their families should ask themselves, “What does independence mean to me?”  

A Look Ahead 

We want to provide an important glimpse into the journeys of three blind or low vision individuals with diverse backgrounds and experiences.  

Our stories illustrate how we redefined what transition planning meant to each of us. It is absolutely valid for students and families to have their own views of independence, and such views should be respected and included at the transition table.   


You can also read the full text of Bread, Rice, or Tostada: Cultural Inclusion at The Transition Table written by: Ann Wai-Yee Kwong, Daisy Soto, and Jovany Barba 



Cage, C. (2019). Culturally Responsive Transition Planning, Topical Paper. VCU Center on Transition Innovations. Retrieved February 1, 2021, from  

Conroy, P. W. (2006). Hmong Culture and Visual Impairment: Strategies for Culturally Sensitive Practices. Re:View, 38(2), 55‚Äď64.  

U.S. Census Bureau. (2019). U.S. Census Bureau Releases 2014-2018 ACS 5-Year Estimates. Retrieved February 5, 2021, from  

Zhang, D. (2005). Parent Practices in Facilitating  Self-Determination Skills: The Influences  of Culture, Socioeconomic Status, and  Children‚Äôs Special Education Status. Research & Practice for Persons with Severe Disabilities, 30(3), 154-162. 

Zhang, Y., & Rosen, S. (2018). Confucian philosophy and contemporary Chinese societal attitudes toward people with disabilities and inclusive education. Educational Philosophy & Theory, 50(12), 1113‚Äď1123. 

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