New Grants Awarded for Developing New Tools to Support Employment for People with Disabilities

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October 23, 2019

New Grants Awarded for Developing New Tools to Support Employment for People with Disabilities

The National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR) at ACL has awarded a number of grants for developing new tools to support employment opportunities for people with disabilities. 

Below are highlights of some of the various projects set to begin:

  • ES-Coach: A Smartphone and Web-Based Performance Coaching Application -- Awarded to University of Massachusetts-Boston ($200,000 yearly for a period of three years). The goal of this project is to build ES-Coach, a performance coaching application that supports employment specialists to implement established standards of practice leading to improved employment outcomes of jobseekers with disabilities. The objectives are to: (1) develop a complete ES-Coach application that supports employment specialists to reflect on their work, set goals, and engage in continuous quality improvement; (2) implement beta testing with 60 employment specialists; and (3) develop a technology transfer plan.
  • Take on Training: A Video Training App to Foster Independent at Work for Individuals with Intellectual Disability -- Awarded to Attainment ($575,000 for a period of two years) for researching and developing a mobile app to provide direct service workers, including job coaches, with on-demand instruction by way of short video vignettes to promote the maximum level of independence for people with disabilities at work. The objective is to produce a commercially available, mobile, cross-platform app for job coaches with a complimentary app for workers with intellectual and developmental disabilities accompanied by a national network of job coach expertise.
  • Virtual Office Space: Improving Employment Opportunities -- Awarded to Wright State University ($200,000 yearly for a period of three years). The Substance Abuse Resources and Disability Issues Program in the Boonshoft School of Medicine at Wright State University will evaluate a fully-integrated, high resolution virtual desktop for individuals with low vision, which can be accessed online from home or the workplace. The goals for this project are: 1) perfect the Virtual Office Space (VOS) to be fully customizable for each individual with low vision and produce a virtual visual environment that permits satisfactory perception of information on the computer screen; 2) iteratively evaluate the acceptability and effectiveness of VOS technology for participants with albinism; and 3) disseminate the results of VOS technology testing.
  • Person-Centered Planning Toolkit to Improve Workforce Participation for Individuals with Cognitive Disabilities -- Awarded to Assistech ($575,000 for a period of two years), this project addresses the need for increased opportunities for competitive integrated employment for individuals with cognitive disabilities by developing and testing the Person-Centered Planning (PCP) Toolkit. The goal of the project is to complete development of a prototype application with demonstrated usability and feasibility based on Phase I results from both transition students with mild to moderate cognitive disabilities and trained PCP facilitators. The application enables users to capture the action item outputs from a PCP meeting, add team members, assign tasks, track progress, systematically remind participants of commitments, and monitor completion in ways that clearly identify who is responsible and when items are completed. A second component is a community assets mapping function that supports the employment discovery process by team-sourcing identification of community businesses, associations, mentors, and professionals who can be resources in identifying job opportunities.
  • Using Virtual Reality to Improve Job Reentry in Adults with TBI -- Awarded to the Kessler Foundation ($200,000 yearly for a period of three years). Individuals who have sustained traumatic brain injury (TBI) have significant difficulty returning to work. The goal of the current study is to improve the return to work process by implementing a Virtual Reality Job Interview Training program to target social competency skills needed for successful job interviewing. 

Within ACL, NIDILRR works to generate new knowledge and promote its effective use to improve the abilities of individuals with disabilities to perform activities of their choice in the community; and to expand society's capacity to provide full opportunities and accommodations for people with disabilities. NIDILRR conducts its work through grants that support research and development.


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