During Hispanic Heritage Month, we are highlighting Latino researchers, NIDRR grantees, and NIDRR projects that focus on the Latino disability community and their particular issues. Today, we would like to introduce you to Fabricio Balcazar, PhD. He is a professor in the Department of Disability and Human Development at the University of Illinois in Chicago (UIC), where he has taught Master and PhD level courses on disability advocacy and empowerment, disability studies, and current disability research. He is the Director of the Center for Capacity Building on Minorities with Disabilities Research at the Institute on Disability and Human Development where he has served as the Director/Principal Investigator of several NIDRR projects (completed). In addition, Dr. Balcazar mentors seniors at the Proviso Math and Science Academy.
Dr. Balcazar’s principal research interests lie in “developing effective strategies for enhancing consumer empowerment and personal effectiveness among individuals with disabilities.” (Bio at UIC). Over the last 25 years, Dr. Balcazar has conducted research in various areas related to disabilities and Latinos. These areas include capacity building, urban planning and education with Latino communities in relation to the implementation of the ADA, the development of interventions that help Latino youth with disabilities, the transition of minority students with disabilities from education to employment (including developing entrepreneurial skills), and the promotion cultural competence in services that provide rehabilitation. Dr. Balcazar has shared his findings through his writing, including a book (Race, Culture and Disability Rehabilitation Science and Practice) and over 70 articles. Many of Dr. Balcazar’s articles can be found in NARIC’s REHABDATA and they include:
- Predictors of employment and college attendance outcomes for youth in transition: Implications for policy and practice. NARIC Access Number: J65975
- Participatory action research with Colombian immigrants. NARIC Access Number: J60909
- Cultural competence: Development of a conceptual framework. NARIC Access Number: J56807
- Building the capacity of community organizations to more effectively serve minorities with disabilities. NARIC Access Number: J62510.
We asked Dr. Balcazar what he would advise to young Latino researchers, researchers with disabilities, or anyone working towards becoming a researcher in the disability and rehabilitation fields. He told us, “Do not be afraid to fail! What is important is to try. Triumph is not assured, but we have our skills, passion, and determination. That is what matters.”