RRTC on Physical Disabilities State of the Science Conference
September 26 - 27, 2017
The 2017 State of the Science Conference on the Employment of People with Physical Disabilities presented research on employment effective policies, practices, and interventions to improve the employment outcomes of people with physical disabilities. The conference was designed to discuss issues and implications from the new knowledge gained from our disability employment research activities. Along with presentations by prominent speakers, expert panels took place which provided lively discussions around empowering individuals with physical disabilities to access quality employment, independence, and integration into society. Titles and descriptions of the conference sessions are listed below.
Day One: September 26, 2017
WELCOME (9:00am - 10:30am)
Speaker: Dr. Paul Wehman, Director VCU-RRTC, Professor of Physical Medicine with joint appointments in the Departments of Rehabilitation Counseling and Special Education
Speaker: Kathy Hayfield, Director, Division of Rehabilitative Services, Virginia Department for Aging and Rehabilitative Services
People with Physical Disabilities Speak out About They Want and Need to Know About Employment: Results from a Focus Group Study
Speaker: Dr. Katherine Inge, Project Director, VCU-RRTC on Employment of People with Physical Disabilities
Work is a fundamental part of our lives. It promotes financial stability, a sense of purpose, and an opportunity to interact with other people. Despite decades of legislation and research, employment rates for individuals with disabilities remain much lower than for those without disabilities. The most recent statistics from the Bureau of Labor Statistices show that 17.9% of people with disabilities had employment, while 65.3% of individuals without a disability were employed. In 2016, the unemployment rate for individuals with disabilities was 10.5%, compared to 4.6% for those without a disability.
Existing research provides information on the barriers and facilitators to employment, but these studies typically present information from the viewpoint of one specific physical disability group. What is not available is a comparison of the barriers and facilitators to employment as reported by people with disabilities themselves across physical disability groups specifically Spinal Cord Injury (SCI), Multiple Sclerosis (MS), Cerebral Palsy (CP). The RRTC on Employment of People with Physical Disabilities RRTC conducted a series of focus groups to engage people with physical disabilities in the design, research, and on-going knowledge translation (KT) activities involved in developing and maintaining a RRTC and national resource center on employment. This Keynote will present the findings from this research and the implications for providing information on employment to individuals with physical disabilities. A panel representing individuals with physical disabilities will respond to the information and present their own life experiences related the barriers and facilitators to employment.
People with Physical Disabilities Respond Regarding Their Barriers and Facilitators to Employment
Panel Facilitator: Nancy Brookes-Lane, Senior Consultant, Center for Social Capital
BREAKOUT SESSION #1 (10:45am - 12:15pm)
Work Incentive Counseling: A Key Employment Support for Social Security
Speaker: Dr. John Kregel, Director, Work Incentive Planning and Assistance National Training Center
Work incentive counseling is a proven employment support that assists Social Security disability beneficiaries to achieve their employment and economic self-sufficiency goals. This presentation will describe the availability of work incentive counseling across the country, the key work incentives that assist beneficiaries to obtain employment or return to work, the characteristics of high quality work incentive counseling services, and future trends in program design and service delivery.
Employment and Life Experiences of Veterans with Amputation
Speaker: Dr. Amy Armstrong, Chair and Associate Professor, Department of Rehabilitation Counseling at Virginia Commonwealth University
Veterans and service members with traumatic extremity amputation(s) experience difficulties in reintegrating and maintaining employment. A better understanding of the barriers and facilitators to employment is essential in developing a novel multi-component model that promotes quality competitive employment outcomes. This presentation will summarize 1) a systematic review of the literature; 2) present the results from a survey of Veterans from a National database of Veterans with amputations; 3) provide case studies; and 4) discuss future directions for research and practice.
BREAKOUT SESSION #1
(1:30pm - 2:45pm)
Measuring Quality Indicators of Employment Success Among Persons with Multiple Sclerosis
Speaker: Dr. James Krause, Professor and Associate Dean for Research, Director of the Center for Rehabilitation Research in Neurological Conditions at Medical University of South Carolina
If we are to maximize employment among those who transition to or return to work after physical disability, we must better understand quality outcomes, rather than simply employment rates. We summarize findings from a mixed methods study of quality employment outcomes after multiple sclerosis (MS) that included 1327 participants identified from a clinical setting. The study had both qualitative and quantitative components. We identify employment outcomes as related to MS characteristics and compare outcomes with that of a study of 1932 participants identified through the MS Society. We will also compare some key outcomes with that of an independent study of 2697 participants with spinal cord injury. The goal of the presentation is to highlight the importance of a wide array of employment outcomes after physical disability to help establish a foundation for refining our measurement and promotion of quality employment outcomes throughout the work life cycle.
BREAKOUT SESSION #2
Improvement and Use of Social Skills in the Labor Market for People with Physical Disabilities
Speaker: Dr. Brian Phillips, Assistant Professor, University of Wisconsin-Madison
All work is social. Even isolated jobs have some interpersonal aspects. In this presentation, we talk about multiple efforts to address and understand the use of social skills in the labor market. These include the pilot of a randomized controlled trial of a soft skills training created by the federal government, Skills to Pay the Bills, used with college students with disabilities. We also present findings on the use of social capital and social role to influence starting wage for people with disabilities. Finally, we will briefly discuss new ways for modeling workplace social effectiveness as well as present a project underway to pilot a newly created impression management training for people with disabilities.
BREAKOUT SESSION #1
(3:00pm - 4:30pm)
Promoting and Enhancing Self-Determination in People with Disabilities
Speaker: Dr. Karrie A. Shogren, Professor and Senior Scientist, University of Kansas; Director, Kansas University Center on Developmental Disabilities
This session will provide information on the relationship between self-determination and postschool outcomes. A definition of self-determination, current employment data, and the research on the impact of interventions to promote and enhance self-determination on outcomes will be described. Evidence-based practices for promoting self-determination and employment outcomes will be described.
BREAKOUT SESSION #2
What People with Physical Disabilities Want and Need to Know About Employment: Research Findings from a National Survey
Speaker: Dr. Carolyn Graham, Director of Research VCU-RRTC on Employment of People with Physical Disabilities
We know that individuals with physical disabilities face challenges with gaining meaningful employment. Research has found that major barriers to employment include health issues, accessibility issues, inadequate transportation, and limited social support. Conversely, we know that access to vocational rehabilitation services, reasonable accommodations, modifications to the workplace, and supports can facilitate access. However, we have limited information on what people with physical disabilities report as their barriers and facilitators to employment. The RRTC on Employment of Physical Disabilities conducted a national survey asking people with physical disabilities to identify their barriers and facilitators to employment. They were also asked what their information needs are related to employment. This session will present the findings from this national study and discuss implications for assisting individuals in gaining needed access to employment information.
Day Two: September 27, 2017
Quality Indicators of Customized Employment
(8:30am - 10:00am )
Speaker: Dr. Katherine Inge, Project Director, VCU-RRTC
Customizing and negotiating jobs based on a job seeker's abilities and interests and creating job descriptions to match the needs of the individual and the employer makes sense when considering that many individuals with disabilities are not achieving integrated employment outcomes. Often, they are not able to complete all of the essential and/or marginal job functions of existing job descriptions in businesses and therefore are not hired. However, these individuals can make substantial contributions that can be of value to business while meeting their needs for employment opportunities. VR practitioners using a customized employment can identify an individual's strengths, interests, and abilities and match them to jobs of choice needed by community businesses. The result benefits both individuals with disabilities and employers.
Implementing customized employment may mean that the way services have been provided to job seekers needs to be changed or modified. How does an agency determine if they are providing quality customized employment services? This presentation will present findings from a National Focus group discussion on elements of customized employment. How to identify quality services will also be discussed. Included in the presentations will be a panel of individuals with physical disabilities who have become employed in customized jobs along with the individuals who assisted them in their employment journey.
Personal Experiences with Customized Employment
Panel: Dr. Monasterio, Assistant Professor, Chair of Division of Pediatric Rehab VCU, additional members to be announced
(10:15am - 11:30am)
Setting a Future Agenda
Panel members will discuss their perspectives regarding current and future research, evidence-based practices, and societal trends intended to facilitate the employment of individuals who experience physical disabilities.
Setting a Future Agenda (Appreciative Inquiry) (11:30am - 12:30pm)
Using the foundation provided by the panel discussion, participants will engage in an appreciative practice to begin brainstorming a vision of research and translation to practice focusing on the affirmative topic, employment of individuals with physical disabilities. This generative and interactive closing will result in an exploration of what is working well now and what may contribute to future employment and community opportunities for people with physical disabilities.
(12:30pm - 1:00pm)
Dr. Paul Wehman & Dr. James Krause