Foreign entities are not eligible to compete for, or receive, awards made under this announcement. Faith-based and community organizations that meet the eligibility requirements are eligible to receive awards under this funding opportunity announcement.
People with disabilities continue to experience disproportionately lower rates of employment and lower wages than people without disabilities (Houtenville & Boege, 2019; Yin, Shaewitz, & Megra, 2020). In 2019, the employment-population ratio of people with disabilities was 19.3 percent compared to the 66.3 percent rate of people without disabilities (U.S. Department of Labor, 2020). For employed people with disabilities, 82 percent were either under-employed or worked part-time (U.S. Department of Labor, 2020). The onset of the coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19) resulted in millions of Americans losing their jobs in 2020; however, people with disabilities have been disproportionately impacted (Center for Economic Policy Research, 2020). Employment to population ratios show that people with disabilities have experienced a larger decline in employment during COVID-19 than people without disabilities (9.9 percent compared to 6.5 percent respectively) (nTIDE, 2020).
Researchers recognize the importance of understanding and measuring the impact of employer characteristics and practices on improving employment outcomes among people with disabilities (e.g., Bonaccio, et al., 2020; Gasper, Palan, & Muz, 2020; McDonough, et al., 2020). Employer policies and practices found to improve employment outcomes for people with disabilities include, but are not limited to: including disability in diversity plans, providing diversity training for management, and actively recruiting people with disabilities (Bezyak, et al., 2020; Chan et al., 2020; Gentry, et al., 2015; Gasper, Palan, & Muz, 2020). There is evidence that employing people with disabilities has benefits for business and industry, such as profitability and competitive advantage (Lindsay, et al., 2018). Despite this evidence, a majority of businesses, particularly small and medium-sized businesses, lack the needed policies and practices for a disability inclusive workplace, and people with disabilities continue to experience significantly lower rates of employment than people without disabilities (Yin, Shaewitz, & Megra, 2020).
It is critical that employers have access to a growing body of research-based knowledge about practices and approaches that they can use to increase their hiring and retention of employees with disabilities while realizing benefits for their lines of work. NIDILRR is establishing this priority to continue to develop, test, and scale-up effective interventions and practices that employers can use to promote the hiring and retention of employees with disabilities, thereby increasing positive employment outcomes among people with disabilities. In addition, there is a need for the development of measures that employers and other stakeholders can use to track employment outcomes for people with disabilities, and measure progress towards an inclusive workplace (Brody, 2018).
Bezyak, J., Moser, E., Iwanag, K., Wu, J., Chen, X., & Chan, F. (2020). Disability inclusion strategies: An exploratory study. Journal of Vocational Rehabilitation, 53(2), 183-188.
Bonaccio, S., Connelly, C.E., Gellatly, I.R., Jetha, A., & Ginis, K.A. (2020). The Participation of People with Disabilities in the Workplace Across the Employment Cycle: Employer Concerns and Research Evidence. Journal of Business Psychology, 35, 135–158.
Brodey, D. (2018). Closing The Disability Inclusion Gap At Work: These 5 Research-Proven Ways Will Help You Start Today. Retrieved October 29, 2020 from https://www.forbes.com/sites/denisebrodey/2018/11/05/closing-the-disabi….
Center for Economic Policy Research. Disability and Employment in the Time of Coronavirus: The 30th Anniversary of the Americans With Disabilities. Retrieved from https://cepr.net/disability-and-employment-in-the-time-of-coronavirus-t…, October 25, 2020
Chan, F., Tansey, T.N. , Iwanaga, K., Bezyak, J., Wehman, P. , Phillips, B.N. , Strauser, D.R., Anderson, C. (2020). Company characteristics, disability inclusion practices, and employment of people with disabilities in the post COVID‑19 job economy: A cross sectional survey study. Journal of Occupational Rehabilitation. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10926-020-09941-8.
Gasper, J., Muz, B., and Palan, M. (2019). Implementation and effectiveness of disability-inclusive workplace practices and policy, (for U.S. Department of Labor). Rockville, MD: Westat.
Gentry, T., Kriner, R., Sima, A., McDonough, J., & Wehman, P. (2015). Reducing the need for personal supports among workers with autism using an iPod touch as an assistive technology: Delayed randomized control trial. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 45(3), 669-684.
Houtenville, A. & Boege. S. (2019). 2018 Disability statistics annual report. Durham, NH: University of New Hampshire.
Lindsay, S., Cagliostro, E., Albarico, M., Mortaji, N., & Karon, L. (2018). A Systematic Review of the Benefits of Hiring People with Disabilities. Journal of Occupational Rehabilitation, 28(4), 634-655.
McDonough, J. Ham, W., Brooke, A., Wehman, P., Wright, T.S., Godwin Jr., J.C., Junod, P., & Hurst, R. (2020). Health Care Executive Perceptions of Hiring and Retention Practices of People With Disabilities: Results From Executive Focus Groups. Rehabilitation Counseling Bulletin, 0(00), 1–11. First Published on-line, DOI: 10.1177/0034355220915766
nTIDE (2020). September 2020 Jobs Report: Unease Rises as Numbers Fall for Americans with Disabilities. Posted and retrieved on October 30, 2020 at https://researchondisability.org/news-features/2020/10/02/ntide-septemb…
Yin, M., Shaewitz, D., & Megra, M. (2020). Leading the Way, or Falling Behind? What the Data Tell Us About Disability Pay Equity and Opportunity in Boston and Other Top Metropolitan Areas. Retrieved October 30, 2020 from https://www.air.org/project/disability-employment-and-marketplace-bosto….
U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics (2020). Persons with A Disability: Labor Force Characteristics—2019. Retrieved October 26, 2020 from https://www.bls.gov/news.release/disabl.nr0.htm.
Priority- RRTC on Employer Practices Leading to Successful Employment Outcomes Among People With Disabilities:
The Administrator of the Administration for Community Living establishes a priority for an RRTC on Employer Practices Leading to Successful Employment Outcomes among People with Disabilities.
The purpose of this RRTC is to generate new knowledge about employer practices that effectively support hiring, retention, and advancement of employees with disabilities. This new knowledge will be generated and used by the RRTC to improve employer policies and practices that ultimately contribute to successful employment outcomes among people with disabilities. The RRTC must contribute to improving the employment outcomes of people with disabilities by:
(a) Conducting research toward effective employer practices for hiring, retention and advancement of employees with disabilities. In carrying out its research activities, the RRTC must address the following requirements:
At least one of the RRTC’s research projects must be conducted at the Intervention Efficacy or Scale-Up Evaluation stage, as defined elsewhere in this priority. A research project at the Intervention Efficacy stage must test the efficacy of new or existing employer practices. A research project at the Scale-Up Evaluation stage must further test existing evidence-based practices among different types or sizes of employers, or in new circumstances or settings.
Research on employer practices for hiring, retention, and advancement of employees with disabilities must be conducted with people with disabilities and employers. The research may also be conducted in collaboration with vocational rehabilitation agencies, community-based providers of employment services for people with disabilities, or other relevant stakeholders.
Employer practices that are the focus of the RRTC must incorporate and integrate existing research-based knowledge of the characteristics and experiences of employees with disabilities.
While the RRTC’s research must focus primarily on employment outcomes of people with disabilities that are associated with specific employer practices, the RRTC may also conduct research on benefits for employers that are associated with these practices. These potential benefits may include but are not limited to a larger pool of qualified workers, reduced employee turnover, and enhanced workplace productivity and efficiency.
(b) Conducting research toward continued development of valid and reliable measures of employee- and employer-level outcomes of employer practices for hiring, retention, and advancement of people with disabilities. These measures must focus on:
Employee-level outcomes that may include but are not limited to earnings, full- or part-time employment status, and opportunities for on-the-job training and advancement.
Employer-level outcomes that may include but are not limited to workplace productivity and efficiency, profitability and competitive advantage, and workplace progress in and commitment to recruiting, hiring, retaining, and ensuring a pathway for advancement of people with disabilities.
(c) Demonstrating, in its original application, that people from racial and ethnic minority backgrounds will be included in study samples in sufficient numbers to generate knowledge and products that are relevant to the racial and ethnic diversity of the population of people with disabilities being studied. The RRTC must describe and justify, in its original application, the racial and ethnic distribution of people with disabilities who will participate in the proposed research.
(d) Identifying and involving key stakeholders in the research and research planning activities to maximize the relevance and usefulness of the research products being developed. Stakeholders must include, but are not limited to, a diverse group of people with disabilities, vocational rehabilitation agencies, employers, and relevant researchers in the field of disability employment research.
(e) Serving as a national resource center related to employer practices for hiring, retention, and advancement of employees with disabilities. The RRTC must conduct knowledge translation activities that include, but are not limited to:
Providing information and technical assistance to employers, employment service providers, employer groups, people with disabilities and their representatives, and other key stakeholders;
Providing training to employers and employer groups to facilitate more effective employer practices for people with disabilities. This training may be provided through conferences, workshops, public education programs, in-service training programs, and similar activities;
Disseminating research-based information and materials related to employer practices for promoting positive employment outcomes among people with disabilities;
Involving people with disabilities, employers, and other key stakeholder groups in the activities conducted under paragraphs (a) and (b) of this priority to promote the new knowledge generated by the RRTC; and
Conducting a state-of-the-science conference on the relationship between employer practices and employment outcomes for people with disabilities. The RRTC must hold this conference by the fourth year of the grant cycle and publish a comprehensive report on the final outcomes of the conference by the end of the fourth year of the grant cycle.
(f) In conducting knowledge translation activities, the RRTC must collaborate with and seek technical assistance from the NIDILRR-funded Center on Knowledge Translation for Employment Research as needed and as appropriate.
General Rehabilitation Research and Training Center Requirements:
The effectiveness of any RRTC depends on, among other things, how well the RRTC coordinates its research efforts with the research of other NIDILRR-funded projects, and involves people with disabilities in its activities. Accordingly, the RRTC must:
(a) Coordinate on research projects of mutual interest with relevant ACL- and NIDILRR-funded projects as identified by the NIDILRR Project Officer.
(b) Involve people with disabilities, including people with disabilities from minority backgrounds, in planning and implementing its research, training, and dissemination activities, and in evaluating the RRTC.
(c) Coordinate with the appropriate NIDILRR-funded Knowledge Translation Centers and professional and consumer organizations to provide scientific results and information to policymakers, service providers, researchers, and others, including employers, vocational rehabilitation providers, and independent living centers.
Definitions - Stages of Research:
(a) Exploration and discovery means the stage of research that generates hypotheses or theories through new and refined analyses of data, producing observational findings and creating other sources of research-based information. This research stage may include identifying or describing the barriers to and facilitators of improved outcomes of people with disabilities, as well as identifying or describing existing practices, programs, or policies that are associated with important aspects of the lives of people with disabilities. Results achieved under this stage of research may inform the development of interventions or lead to evaluations of interventions or policies. The results of the exploration and discovery stage of research may also be used to inform decisions or priorities.
(b) Intervention development means the stage of research that focuses on generating and testing interventions that have the potential to improve outcomes for people with disabilities. Intervention development involves determining the active components of possible interventions, developing measures that would be required to illustrate outcomes, specifying target populations, conducting field tests, and assessing the feasibility of conducting a well-designed intervention study. Results from this stage of research may be used to inform the design of a study to test the efficacy of an intervention.
(c) Intervention efficacy means the stage of research during which a project evaluates and tests whether an intervention is feasible, practical, and has the potential to yield positive outcomes for people with disabilities. Efficacy research may assess the strength of the relationships between an intervention and outcomes and may identify factors or individual characteristics that affect the relationship between the intervention and outcomes. Efficacy research can inform decisions about whether there is sufficient evidence to support “scaling-up” an intervention to other sites and contexts. This stage of research can include assessing the training needed for wide-scale implementation of the intervention and approaches to evaluation of the intervention in real-world applications.
(d) Scale-up evaluation means the stage of research during which a project analyzes whether an intervention is effective in producing improved outcomes for people with disabilities when implemented in a real-world setting. During this stage of research, a project tests the outcomes of an evidence-based intervention in different settings. It examines the challenges to successful replication of the intervention and the circumstances and activities that contribute to successful adoption of the intervention in real-world settings. This stage of research may also include well-designed studies of an intervention that has been widely adopted in practice, but lacks a sufficient evidence base to demonstrate its effectiveness.