Developing Community Safety IEP Goals for Students with Disabilities

Community safety is essential for students with disabilities to live independently and confidently navigate various public environments. This detailed guide provides a comprehensive approach to creating Individualized Education Program (IEP) goals focused on community safety, offering educators, caregivers, and students numerous practical examples to enhance safety awareness and skills.

Understanding the Significance of Community Safety

Mastering community safety allows students with disabilities to engage more fully in everyday activities outside their immediate familiar settings, fostering independence and social inclusion. IEP goals targeting community safety equip students with critical skills to identify and react to potential hazards effectively.

Essential Areas of Focus in Community Safety IEP Goals

  1. Street and Traffic Safety: Safe navigation of pedestrian crossings, understanding traffic signs, and maneuvering through parking lots.
  2. Stranger Interaction and Safety: How to handle encounters with strangers and maintain personal safety in various situations.
  3. Emergency Preparedness: Recognizing different types of emergencies and knowing the appropriate responses.
  4. Navigating Public Transportation: Skills for using buses, trains, and taxis safely and independently.
  5. Behavioral Expectations in Public Settings: Understanding and adhering to expected behaviors in public places like libraries, theaters, and shops.

Effective Strategies for Developing Community Safety IEP Goals

  • Sequential Skill Building: Establish goals that build on each other, starting from simple recognition tasks to complex decision-making in real-world scenarios.
  • Contextual Learning: Integrate safety skills training into actual community settings to enhance learning relevance and retention.
  • Multi-Disciplinary Approach: Collaborate with local safety officials, transit authorities, and community leaders to create realistic and practical safety goals.
  • Regular Reinforcement: Use frequent, structured opportunities to practice skills to ensure mastery and confidence.

Expanded Examples of Community Safety IEP Goals

Disclaimer: The following are sample goals meant to illustrate how community safety IEP goals might be structured. However, it’s important to remember that each student’s IEP goals should be uniquely tailored to their individual circumstances, needs, and strengths.

  1. Street and Traffic Safety Goals:
    • Goal: The student will identify and explain the function of different traffic signs (stop, yield, pedestrian crossing) and demonstrate appropriate actions at each sign during community walks in 95% of opportunities.
    • Goal: During school outings, the student will consistently use the crosswalk for street crossing, waiting for the walk signal on 10 consecutive outings.
  2. Stranger Interaction and Safety Goals:
    • Goal: The student will demonstrate the ability to say “no” and walk away from unfamiliar adults asking them to go somewhere, in 100% of simulated training scenarios.
    • Goal: The student will identify two safe adults they can approach for help when feeling unsafe in public, practicing interactions twice a month.
  3. Emergency Preparedness Goals:
    • Goal: The student will memorize and demonstrate three different ways to exit the school building safely in case of an emergency, with one drill practiced monthly.
    • Goal: The student will use a mock phone to call 911, accurately describing their location and the nature of the emergency in role-play scenarios, achieving accurate communication in 9 out of 10 trials.
  4. Navigating Public Transportation Goals:
    • Goal: The student will independently check the bus schedule, identify the correct bus number, and pay the fare correctly for their route in 4 out of 5 independent travel trials.
    • Goal: The student will demonstrate proper seating choice and how to signal a stop request on public buses during community-based instruction days, achieving correct actions in 90% of rides.
  5. Behavioral Expectations in Public Settings Goals:
    • Goal: The student will follow a set of written rules for appropriate behavior (such as keeping voice down and walking, not running) in public libraries, maintaining compliance on 8 out of 10 visits.
    • Goal: In a restaurant setting, the student will practice ordering food, using manners, and calculating a tip with minimal prompts in 5 consecutive outings.

Elevate Your Team’s Approach to IEP Meetings

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It provides comprehensive criteria that cover the breadth of transition planning, from gauging student engagement to evaluating post-secondary goals and services.

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Implementing Community Safety IEP Goals

  • Simulated Practice: Regularly schedule classroom activities that simulate community environments where students can practice safety skills in a controlled setting.
  • Community-Based Instruction: Plan systematic outings that are specifically designed to teach and reinforce safety skills in real-world contexts.
  • Feedback Loops: Provide immediate feedback and positive reinforcement to encourage good safety practices and correct risky behaviors.
  • Family Engagement: Encourage families to reinforce and practice safety skills during family outings, ensuring a cohesive learning experience across environments.


Community safety IEP goals are vital for preparing students with disabilities to navigate public spaces safely and confidently. By systematically developing these goals and providing ample opportunities for practice, educators can significantly enhance students’ independence and participation in community life.

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Jon Izak

Jon Izak is the founder and CEO of Ori Learning.