During this last week of National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM), we turn our attention to workers and job seekers with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD). Data from the National Core Indicators (PDF) suggest that people with IDD are less likely to be employed full time in competitive jobs in the community than their peers with other disabilities and significantly less likely than their peers without disabilities. People with IDD want to work in fulfilling, competitive jobs, but may need supports to find, apply for, and keep those jobs long term. As one young woman with Down syndrome who works at the Institute for Community Inclusion put it: “I don’t just work to have a job, I work to live.” Programs like Employment First, customized employment, internships, and other programs may help close the employment gap, connecting people with IDD to the jobs they want.
In this week’s Quick Look, we meet some of the current NIDILRR-funded projects focusing on employment of people with IDD, as well as some resources from the broader community.
Rehabilitation Research and Training Centers (RRTCs)
The RRTC on Advancing Employment for Individuals with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (ThinkWork RRTC) conducts research, training, and outreach activities that promote employment for people with IDD. Activities include research to create a comprehensive information, outreach, and support framework for individuals and families so they have access to employment information across the lifespan; increasing the effectiveness of employment consultants, incorporating research, practice, job seeker support needs, organizational culture, and personal resources; building capacity and support for organizational transformation for community rehabilitation providers; and understanding the characteristics of high-performing state employment systems. Researchers from this center recently shared key findings and lessons learned from research on integrated employment for individuals with disabilities in a video. Visit the ThinkWork RRTC for the Bringing Employment First to Scale research brief series, the 44 webinar series that takes a fresh look at issues and opportunities around employment for people with IDD, and more!
The RRTC on Employment of People with IDD (VCU-RRTC-IDD) provides needed information in employer practices that are associated with better employment outcomes for individuals with IDD. This center conducts a series of studies to examine the critical variables that can improve competitive integrated employment outcomes for people with IDD. Studies examine how a major corporation implements a demand side approach to hiring workers with IDD, ways young adults with IDD from minority communities acquire technology skills to access careers in information technology, how college students with autism spectrum disorders use cognitive technology, the impact of parent intervention on expectations and outcomes for their children, and how training employment specialists can improve competitive integrated employment outcomes. Visit the center for webinars on employment issues, including their series of 15-minute webinars highlighting important topics like disability etiquette and key terms in employment; highly sharable factsheets, postcards and plain language summaries of research; and a database of journal articles on employment and disability.
RRTC on Employment of Transition-Age Youth with Disabilities (VCU-RRTC-Transition) focuses broadly on evidence-based interventions to assist youth to enter competitive integrated employment. Among its studies are a randomized control trial on the effects of paid work in high school for youth with severe disabilities and an intervention on the effects of an online course and subsequent technical assistance for postsecondary staff providing employment supports for college students with IDD. Visit the center’s website to learn more about this course and to find research briefs on the impact of paid work.
Field Initiated Research
Promoting Career Design and Development via Telehealth for Rural Adults with Intellectual and Development Disabilities is a new (FY 2020) project that will examine the feasibility, efficacy, and cost-effectiveness of implementing a career design intervention using telehealth for adults with IDD who live in rural areas. The intervention uses the Self-Determined Career Design Model (SDCDM) which enables individuals to set career-related goals, make career-related choices and decisions, develop and implement career-related plans and goals, and reflect on progress toward those goals. This project will train facilitators to use the SDCDM model remotely with people with IDD to promote employment for those waiting for formal Home and Community Based Services in Kansas.
Small Business Innovation Research
Attainment Company, Inc, is in Phase II development of Take on Training with Attainment: A Video Training App to Foster Independence at Work for Individuals with Intellectual Disability. The app will provide direct services to workers such as job coaches with on-demand instruction in the form of short vignettes to promote the maximum level of independence for people with IDD in the workplace.
CreateAbility Concepts, Inc., is in Phase II development of WhenWear Advisor: A Cloud-Based Tool to Help Supervisors Increase Employment Options for Workers with Intellectual Disabilities. The WhenWear Advisor helps supervisors of people with IDD in job settings by connecting the supervisors to a source of pre-built instructions and prompts and helping them tailor or adjust solutions to the specific needs of the person they are supervising. These prompts and instructions will help the employee independently and successfully accomplish vocational tasks.
Browse through more than 70 NIDILRR-funded projects spanning over 35 years of research supporting the employment of people with IDD and more than 145 articles, books, and reports from the NIDILRR community indexed in the REHABDATA database.
Elsewhere in the community
University Centers for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities Education, Research, and Service (UCEDDs) are grantees of the Administration on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (AIDD) that conduct a wide range of research and development supporting employment and independence of people with IDD. Explore the most recent projects indexed in the NIRS database maintained by the Association of University Centers on Disabilities.
The Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) at the Department of Labor has several program areas that support employment success for people with IDD. They include supporting Employment First, a framework for systems changes that is centered on the premise that all citizens, including those with significant disabilities, are capable of full participation in integrated employment and community life (see the Bringing Employment First to Scale research briefs mentioned above); Customized Employment, an evidence-based strategy that meets the needs of both employee and employer; apprenticeship models that attract a diverse array of candidates; and supporting people with autism and fostering neurodiversity in the workplace.