NDEAM Quick Looks: The Employment RRTCs

We continue our recognition of National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) with a quick look at the NIDILRR-funded Rehabilitation Research and Training Centers (RRTCs) that focus the majority of their efforts on improving employment outcomes for people with disabilities. These centers conduct research and training on disparities in employment outcomes, interventions to support young people transitioning to the workforce, programs to educate employers and vocational rehabilitation counselors, and much more. Follow the links to learn more about each center and what they have to offer job seekers, employers, and others.

Rehabilitation Research and Training Center (RRTC) on Employment for People with Physical Disabilities. (90RTEM0001) The goal of this center is to promote job retention by persons with physical disabilities. Toward this goal, this center conducts a randomized control trial comparing an evidence-based, telehealth pain self-management intervention, adapted to address risk and protective factors for employment disability, to a waitlist control in adults who are employed; assesses employer-, client-, job-, and environment-related barriers and facilitators of job retention after vocational rehabilitation; evaluates an implementation science approach to employment interventions in people with Parkinson’s disease; and evaluates job accommodation strategies and assistive technology resources for rural and low resource environments. Visit this center to find articles and videos on workplace accommodation, return to work, and COVID-19.

Rehabilitation Research and Training Center (RRTC) on Employment of Transition-Age Youth with Disabilities. (90RTEM0002) This center generates evidence-based interventions to assist youth to enter competitive integrated employment; and addresses the need for evidence-based research for youth with disabilities, family members, school personnel, vocational rehabilitation (VR) counselors, and other stakeholders on information and interventions that can impact the employment outcomes of transition-age youth. The center conducts studies including a pilot intervention of knowledge translation methods for pre-employment transition services counselors for youth with significant disabilities; trials on the effects of paid internships for youth with disabilities; and a trial of the effects of technology for college students with brain injuries; among others. Visit this center to learn more about these projects, research briefs, and a course for higher education professionals to learn about supported employment.

Rehabilitation Research and Training Center (RRTC) on Employment of People with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (I/DD). (90RTEM0003) This center provides needed information in employer practices that are associated with better employment outcomes for individuals with I/DD. The cornerstone of this research is a series of studies to examine the critical variables that can improve competitive integrated employment (CIE) outcomes for individuals with I/DD. Center activities also include establishing a national resource center for individuals with I/DD and their families. Visit this center to find research summaries and plain-language summaries, a glossary of employment terms, webcasts and consumer-focused videos, and more.

Rehabilitation Research and Training Center on Improving Employment Outcomes for Individuals with Psychiatric Disabilities. (90RTEM0004) This center conducts a coordinated program of research and knowledge translation projects and activities that builds on existing evidence-based supported employment and improves employment outcomes for individuals with psychiatric disabilities. Research activities include studying barriers and facilitators to employment, studying individual placement supports to improve employment outcomes, and testing an integrated career guidance and supported education intervention, among others. Visit this center at the Center for Psychiatric Rehabilitation for factsheets, webcasts, self-paced study online courses, the Employment Repository, and much more.

The Learning and Working During the Transition to Adulthood Rehabilitation Research and Training Center. (90RTEM0005) This center develops and shares new knowledge about core concepts, interventions, and policies to greatly improve the transition to employment for youth and young adults (Y&YAs) ages 14 to 30 with serious mental health conditions (SMHC). The Center uses research and knowledge translation to help ensure that polices, programs, and supports for transition-age Y&YAs with SMHC help them build the strong cornerstones that support successful long-term adult work lives. This center’s activities include exploring factors that contribute to successful transition, facilitators and barriers to services and supports, and the evidence base for interventions that support long-term success. Visit this center for an extensive collection of factsheets, videos, infocomics, research briefs, and much more.

Rehabilitation Research and Training on Employment Policy: Center for Disability-Inclusive Employment Policy Research. (90RTEM0006) This center designs and implements a series of studies that produce new data and evidence on disability-inclusive employment policy to increase employment rates and outcomes for persons with disabilities. The Center conducts a scientifically rigorous set of randomized control trials and quasi-experimental studies that look across the employment lifecycle: (1) enhancing employment re-engagement, (2) enhancing employment, and (3) enhancing job quality and retention. This center has just launched, so check with NARIC as their collection of resources grows.

RRTC on Employment of People Who are Blind or Have Low Vision. (90RTEM0007) This goal of this center is to improve employment opportunities and outcomes for people who are blind or low vision (B/LV). The center conducts rigorous research, training, technical assistance, and dissemination activities that (1) explore access technology (AT) in the workplace over time; (2) evaluate the effects of virtual interview training for youth; (3) develop and test an interactive video to educate employers about B/LV; (4) evaluate the feasibility and efficacy of teaching job search skills via videoconferencing; (5) identify internal and external barriers and facilitators to labor force participation; (6) explore employment predictors and outcomes using large national datasets; and (7) evaluate the accessibility and usability of job application websites. While this iteration of the center has just launched, the research team has a long history and catalog of significant research and training in this area. Visit the center to find extensive resources on employment, business enterprise, transition for B/LV youth, deaf-blindness and brain injury co-occurring with blindness, and much more.

Place-based Solutions for Rural Community Participation, Health, and Employment. (90RTCP0002) Also known as the RTC: Rural, this center conducts research and knowledge translation (KT) activities across health, community living, and employment domains to explore, develop, and test strategies to improve the quality of life of rural people with disabilities. Among its projects, Rural Self-Employment Builds Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) and American Indian VR Service (AIVRS) explores capacity to support consumers who express an interest in self-employment by refining and evaluating materials that are responsive, appropriate, and prepared for intervention efficacy research. Visit this center for a self-employment training program for VR counselors, the telecom toolbox, and the Working Well with a Disability workshop program.

These are just a few of the many projects that focus their research and development efforts on improving employment outcomes for people with disabilities. Their work impacts workers and future workers with disabilities, employers, vocational rehabilitation counselors, teachers, and many others. Explore more research from the RRTCs or projects in Employment in the NIDILRR Program Database on your own or reach out to our information specialists for assistance!

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