SEDL Awarded $3.25 Million to Establish Center on Knowledge Translation for Employment Research

November 15, 2010
Austin, Texas

Laura Shankland
Communications Associate
Phone: 512-391-6556

In partnership with Virginia Commonwealth University, SEDL is establishing the Center on Knowledge Translation for Employment Research. According to the Office of Disability Employment Policy, the unemployment rate for individuals with disabilities was 14.8%, compared with 9.0% for other Americans, in September 2010. The center will strive to improve employment outcomes for individuals with disabilities (such as higher employment rates, better working supports, higher wages and responsibilities, and greater job satisfaction) by using knowledge translation to ensure that disability-oriented employment research is effectively implemented.

“The new center will allow us not only to identify the best available evidence related to the employment of Americans with disabilities but also to conduct research on how and why research evidence is used or not used. Ultimately, the center will contribute to a better understanding of how research evidence can most effectively be translated into new or improved policies, employment opportunities, and support systems,” says program manager John Westbrook who leads SEDL’s Disability Research to Practice program.

Knowledge translation (KT) involves actively and systematically working to overcome barriers to research use while also promoting the use of high-quality evidence. This national center will synthesize and disseminate existing high-quality research on improving employment outcomes for individuals with disabilities; conduct original research to identify and test strategies that encourage the use of such research among employers, policymakers, vocational rehabilitation agency staff, and people with disabilities; and train researchers in using the most effective strategies.

“We have a wealth of knowledge related to the ability of individuals with disabilities to be employed in their communities. Unfortunately, many are still unemployed or underemployed,” explains Paul Wehman, professor of physical medicine and rehabilitation and chairman of the Division of Rehabilitation Research at Virginia Commonwealth University. “Our new Center on Knowledge Translation gives us an exciting opportunity to learn how to connect day-to-day practitioners with the best information available on how to assist individuals in obtaining their employment goals.”

This new national initiative is funded by a 5-year, $3.25 million grant. The National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research in the U.S. Department of Education will cover 99% of the costs, and non-governmental sources will cover the remaining 1% of annual costs.


About SEDL

SEDL (formerly Southwest Educational Development Laboratory) is a nonprofit corporation based in Austin, Texas. SEDL is dedicated to solving significant education problems and improving teaching and learning through research, research-based resources, and professional development. For more information about SEDL, visit