Intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) are defined by limitations in adaptive functioning associated with substantial intellectual or physical impairments first evident in childhood (Schalock et al., 2010; Developmental Disabilities Assistance and Bill of Rights Act of 2000). It has been estimated that about 1 percent of working-age adults in the United States, or 1.96 million people, have intellectual and developmental disabilities (Houtenville, 2013; Larson et al., 2001). People with intellectual and developmental disabilities want to work (U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, 2011).
The Office of Disability Employment Policy (2018) has recently estimated the labor force participation rate of people with disabilities to be 21.1%. Between 16% and 17.5% of working-age people with IDD had paid jobs in 2015 (Winsor et al., 2017). Earlier studies reported that of those who were employed, 18.6% worked in a competitive integrated work environment (Migliore et al., 2007). People with IDD employed in integrated community settings in 2016 worked 26.8 hours in a two-week period and earned $232.02 or $9.15 per hour (Hiersteiner et al., 2018).
Researchers, advocates, policy makers, and providers of vocational rehabilitation and other employment services are seeking ways to improve employment outcomes and earned income for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Research has identified a number of practices associated with successful employment outcomes for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, including customized, person-centered job development and training; on-job coaching by professionals and co-workers; and computer technologies that guide, monitor, and provide quality control for specific work activities (Claes et al., 2010; McInnes et al., 2008; Van Laarhoven et al., 2009). Employment research and development programs have produced a variety of job development, placement, and support practices for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (Gidugu & Rogers, 2012; Brown& Kessler, 2014), and through these practices people with intellectual and developmental disabilities can and do make valuable contributions to their employers and to their communities (Olson et al., 2001; Storey, 2003; Wehman, 2007; Hendricks, 2010; Martinez, 2013).
However, as the low employment statistics, the high reliance on nonintegrated work, and the low numbers of hours worked demonstrate, significant challenges remain. Research, training, and technical assistance are needed to generate and promote the use of knowledge about effective ways to prepare people with intellectual and developmental disabilities for competitive integrated work. Research is needed to determine effective ways of bundling promising practices and services associated with desirable employment outcomes into more effective programs of employment services and supports. Research is also needed to scale up employment practices and programs that have been shown to be effective at improving competitive, integrated employment outcomes among people with IDD in smaller-scale studies.
The final report of the Advisory Committee on Increasing Competitive Integrated Employment (CIE) for Individuals with Disabilities recommends that “HHS, through NIDILRR, as well as other federal agencies that fund employment research, should prioritize research and development on CIE to establish current evidence about what constitutes effective delivery of services that support an outcome of CIE and translate this knowledge into training curricula and practice.” (Perez, 2016:19). There is strong evidence that people with IDD and their families prefer integrated employment settings over sheltered workshops (Migliore et al., 2007; Rogan & Rinne, 2011; Wehman et al., 2018). Integrated work settings provide greater social and economic benefits for people with IDD than sheltered workshops, including a sense of purpose, better pay, and more self-esteem. With the strong growth of postsecondary education and transition programs more people with IDD will be prepared for jobs in competitive integrated employment (Grigal & Dwyer, 2010; Carter, Austin & Trainor, 2012; Ross et al., 2013). Growth in CIE is essential for increasing employment opportunities for people with IDD. NIDILRR aims to contribute to this outcome by sponsoring research on the employment experiences and outcomes of people with IDD, including research to test the effectiveness of promising practices, or scaling up effective CIE practices and interventions. These interventions may include, but are not limited to customized, person-centered job development and training; on-job coaching by professionals and co-workers; and computer technologies that guide, monitor, and provide quality control for specific work activities (Denny-Brown, Guanga & Sehgal, 2013; Wehman et al., 2018).
Brown, L., & Kessler, K. (2014). Generating integrated work sites for individuals with significant intellectual disabilities. Journal of Vocational Rehabilitation, 40(2), 85-97.
Carter, E. W., Austin, D., & Trainor, A. A. (2012). Predictors of postschool employment outcomes for young adults with severe disabilities. Journal of Disability Policy Studies, 23(1), 50-63.
Claes, C., Van Hove, G., Vandevelde, S., van Loon, J., & Schalock, R.L. (2010). Person Centered Planning: Analysis of Research and Effectiveness. Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, 48(6), pp. 432–453.
Denny-Brown, N., Guanga, L. & Seghal, D. (2013). Promoting integrated employment: Lessons learned from states’ efforts to transform their employment service systems for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Mathematica Policy Research. Retrieved March 5, 2019 from https://www.mathematica-mpr.com/search#q=PROMOTING%20INTEGRATED%20EMPLO….
Developmental Disabilities Assistance and Bill of Rights Act of 2000 (Pub. L. 106– 402).
Gidugu, V. & Rogers, E. S. (2012). Review of Employment Services for Individuals with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities: A Comprehensive Review of the State-of-the-Field from 1996–2011. Boston: Boston University, Sargent College, Center for Psychiatric Rehabilitation. Retrieved February 21, 2019 from http://www.bu.edu/drrk/research-syntheses/developmental-disabilities/em….
Grigal, M., & Dwyre, A. (2010). Employment activities and outcomes of college-based transition programs for students with intellectual disabilities. Think College Insight Brief, Issue No. 3.
Hendricks, D. (2010). Employment and adults with autism spectrum disorders: Challenges and strategies for success. Journal of Vocational Rehabilitation, 32(2), 125–134.
Hiersteiner, D., Butterworth, J. Bershadsky, J. & Bonardi, A. (2018). Working in the community: The status and outcomes of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities in integrated employment—Update 3. NCI Data Brief, April. 2016. Cambridge, MA: Human Services Research Institute.
Houtenville, A. (2013). Annual Compendium of Disability Statistics. Durham, NH: University of New Hampshire, Institute on Disability. Retrieved January 18, 2019 from https://disabilitycompendium.org/sites/default/files/user-uploads/Archi….
Larson, S.A., Lakin, K.C., Anderson, L., Lee, N.K., Lee, J.K., & Anderson, D. (2001). Prevalence of mental retardation and developmental disabilities: Estimates from the 1994/1995 National Health Interview Survey Disability Supplements. American Journal on Mental Retardation, 106(3), 231–252.
McInnes, M.M., Ozturk, O.D., McDermott, S., & Mann, H. (2008). Does Job Coaching Work? Evidence from South Carolina. SSRN eLibrary. Retrieved January 16, 2019 from https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1113170.
Martinez, K. (2013). Integrated employment, Employment First, and US federal policy. Journal of Vocational Rehabilitation, 38(3), 165-168.
Migliore, A., Mank, D., Grossi, T., & Rogan, P. (2007). Integrated employment or sheltered workshops: Preferences of adults with intellectual disabilities, their families, and staff. Journal of Vocational Rehabilitation, 26(1), 5-19.
Office of Disability Employment Policy (2018a). Retrieved Dec. 26, 2018 from https://www.dol.gov/odep/.
Olson, D., Cioffi, A., Yovanoff, P., & Mank, D. (2001). Employers’ perceptions of employees with mental retardation. Journal of Vocational Rehabilitation, 16(2), 125–133.
Perez, T. E. (2016). Advisory Committee on Increasing Competitive Integrated Employment for Individuals with Disabilities. Retrieved Dec. 26, 2018 from https://www.dol.gov/odep/topics/pdf/ACICIEID_Final_Report_9-8-16.pdf.
Rogan, P. & Rinne, S. (2011). National call for organizational change from sheltered to integrated employment. Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, 49(4), 248-260.
Ross, J., Marcell, J., Williams, P., & Carlson, D. (2013). Postsecondary education employment and independent living outcomes of persons with autism and intellectual disability. Journal of Postsecondary Education and Disability, 26(4), 337-351.
Storey, K. (2003). A review of research on natural support interventions in the workplace for people with disabilities. International Journal of Rehabilitation Research, 26(2), 79–84.
Schalock, R.L., Borthwick-Duffy, S.A., Bradley, V.J., Buntinx, W.H.E., Coulter, D.L., Craig, E.M., Gomez, S.C., Lachapelle, Y., Luckasson, R., Reeve, A., Shogren, K.A., Snell, M.E., Spreat, S., Tasse, M.J., Thompson, J.R., Verdugo Alonso, M.A., Wehmeyer, M.L., & Yeager, M.H. (2010). Intellectual disability: Definition, classification, and systems of supports (11th ed.). Washington, DC: American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities.
U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, (2011). Full committee hearing–improving employment opportunities for persons with intellectual disabilities. Retrieved January 21, 2019 from https://www.help.senate.gov/hearings/improving-employment-opportunities….
Van Laarhoven, T., Johnson, J.W., Van Laarhoven-Myers, T., Grider, K.L., & Grider, K.M. (2009). The effectiveness of using a video iPod as a prompting device in employment settings. Journal of Behavioral Education, 18(2), pp. 119– 141.
Wehman, P. (2007). Real work for real pay: Inclusive employment for people with disabilities. Baltimore, MD: Paul H Brookes Pub Co.
Wehman, P., Taylor, J., Brooke, V., Avellone, L., Whittenburg, H., Ham, W., & Carr, S. (2018). Toward competitive employment for persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities: What progress have we made and where do we need to go. Research and Practice for Persons with Severe Disabilities, 43(3), 131-144.
Winsor, J., Timmons, J., Butterworth, J., Shepard, J., Landa, C., Smith, F., & Landim, L. (2017). StateData: The national report on employment services and outcomes. Boston, MA: Institute for Community Inclusion. Retrieved Dec. 26, 2018 from https://www.statedata.info/sites/statedata.info/files/files/statedata_b….
Priority--RRTC on Employment of People with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities
The Administrator of the Administration on Community Living (ACL) establishes a priority for an RRTC on Employment of People with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (IDD). The RRTC must contribute to improved employment outcomes for people with IDD in competitive integrated work settings by:
(a) Conducting well-designed research activities in one or more of the following priority areas, focusing on people with IDD as a group or on people in specific disability or demographic subpopulations of people with IDD:
(i) Technology to improve employment outcomes for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
(ii) Individual factors associated with improved employment opportunities or outcomes for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
(iii) Employer- or work-environment factors associated with improved employment opportunities or outcomes for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
(iv) Effects of government practices, policies, and programs on employment outcomes for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
(v) Practices and policies that contribute to improved employment outcomes for transition-aged youth with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
(b) Conducting at least one research project at the “intervention efficacy” stage to test the efficacy of specific promising employment interventions for people with IDD, or at the “scale up evaluation” stage to determine the extent to which efficacious employment interventions for people with IDD can be scaled up for effective use in a variety of real-world settings, or in different environments or subpopulations of people with IDD. Interventions for further research under this requirement may include but are not limited to customized employment, person-centered job development and training, on-job coaching, or computer technologies to guide and monitor specific work activities.
(c) Clearly specifying and justifying the stage of research for each proposed research project. If a project can be categorized under more than one stage, including research that progresses from one stage to another, each of those stages must be clearly specified and justified. These stages: exploration and discovery, intervention development, intervention efficacy, and scale-up evaluation, are defined in this funding opportunity announcement. Applicants must justify the need and rationale for research at the proposed stage or stages.
(d) Serving as a national resource center related to competitive integrated employment for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities by conducting knowledge translation activities that include, but are not limited to:
(i) Providing information and technical assistance to stakeholders – on research-based practices for improving competitive integrated employment outcomes for people with IDD. These research-based practices include job development and placement, job training and support, customized employment, and other aspects of supported employment. Relevant stakeholders include but are not limited to people with IDD and their representatives, school-based transition programs, employment service providers, and employers.
(ii) Providing training, including graduate, pre-service, and in-service training, to vocational rehabilitation, school-based transition programs, and other employment service providers, to achieve integrated, competitive employment outcomes for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. This training may be provided through conferences, workshops, public education programs, in-service training programs, and similar activities.
(iii) Disseminating, in accessible formats, research-based information and materials related to competitive integrated employment for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
(iv) Involving key stakeholder groups in the activities conducted under paragraphs (a) and (b) in order to maximize the relevance and usability of the new knowledge generated by the RRTC’s research. Such stakeholder groups may vary depending on the specific research activity proposed. Stakeholder groups include but are not limited to State Developmental Disabilities program/ service agencies, State Developmental Disability Planning Councils, State Protection and Advocacy Agencies, State vocational rehabilitation agencies, State Employment First coalitions, AIDD-sponsored Partnerships in Employment Systems Change (PIE) grants, as well as consumer advocacy agencies such as The Arc, United Cerebral Palsy (UCP), TASH (a disability advocacy organization formerly named “The Association for Persons with Severe Handicaps”), and People First.
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 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
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.
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.
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 may include assessing the training needed for wide-scale implementation of the intervention and approaches to evaluation of the intervention in real-world applications.
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. The project 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.