Expanding the Job Horizon for People With Disabilities
Maria had been at her job 18 months when her employer learned she was a cancer survivor. Despite solid performance reviews and perfect attendance, she was fired. She took her case to court and won.
After suffering a traumatic brain injury, Roger quickly returned to work. But he struggled to complete tasks he had easily done before. A year later, with his job on the line, he found help through the Veterans Benefits Administration. He is now successful again at work.
Every year, some 1.5 million Americans are diagnosed with cancer, and some 1.7 million sustain a traumatic brain injury. Many laws, accommodations, and resources are available to assist people with disabilities with employment challenges. Yet businesses and workers are not always aware of these supports. Moreover, vocational rehabilitation practitioners often cannot keep up with the research on which supports are best or how best to inform the public about them.
Through the Center on Knowledge Translation for Employment Research, SEDL and Virginia Commonwealth University are increasing the awareness and use of research-based supports to improve employment for people with disabilities. At the same time, the Center is advancing what is known about how best to communicate and apply research.
in Florida, Texas, and Virginia
In 2011, we began two systematic reviews of the research base to determine successful supports to help people with disabilities return to work and stay employed. One review focuses on cancer survivors; the other on people who sustained traumatic brain injuries. Staff also completed data collection on factors that impede or facilitate the use of research evidence among people with disabilities, businesses, policymakers, and vocational rehabilitation practitioners. Future plans include training researchers on ways to foster research use. The Center is promoting its work through social media, webcasts, conferences, and other means.
Through this work, the Center seeks to ensure that all who need it obtain the best information available on how to assist people with disabilities in reaching their employment goals. By better enabling research to shape employment policies and support systems, we better enable the millions of adults with disabilities—including survivors of cancer and traumatic brain injury—to contribute fully in the workplace.