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 Funded by the United States Department of Education, National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR).

Job Retention and Advancement: A Mixed Methods Investigation

Purpose

This project is an exploratory study that will generate knowledge about job retention and advancement for individuals with blindness and visual impairments (B/VI) by exploring job-retention cases nationally and evaluating the impact of vocational rehabilitation (VR) agency policies on consumer employment outcomes.

Research Questions

  1. What skills (including technology) are generalizable across employment situations that facilitate job retention and advancement?
  2. What factors (such as assistive technology and training, services received, and personal characteristics) are associated with job retention when people experience vision loss?
  3. What policies are state VR agencies using to facilitate job retention and advancement among persons who are B/VI or who are losing their vision?
  4. Are VR agency policies about retention and advancement associated with employment outcomes for consumers who seek to retain employment?
  5. Do persons who apply for VR services while employed and persons who apply for VR services while unemployed receive different services or have different characteristics?
  6. Do persons who retain employment at VR case closure and those who do not retain employment at case closure differ in terms of characteristics and services received?

Study Summary

Following the passage of the federal Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, there is renewed interest in generating knowledge about job retention and advancement for individuals with B/VI. Unfortunately, research regarding job retention and advancement is limited, supporting the need for further exploration and investigation.

This project will provide information about policies or procedures state VR agencies have in place concerning job retention and advancement for consumers who are B/VI. Of equal importance, this research will investigate how employment outcomes are associated with those polices, or lack thereof, at the individual and state VR-program levels. The importance of technology to job retention will also be investigated. A key factor in this research is the inclusion of consumer perspectives regarding how state VR agencies have impacted their ability to retain or advance in employment.

Research data will be obtained via a national survey of state agencies and a consumer survey. We will implement a survey with individuals to identify factors that helped them retain their jobs and a survey with VR agencies to explore policies for job-retention and advancement. Analyses with RSA-911 and survey data will explore job-retention cases nationally and evaluate the impact of agency policies on consumer employment outcomes. Case studies will provide more in-depth information about job retention for people who are B/VI.

Expected Outcomes and Benefits

This project will result in greater insight into the VR agency policies and practices and individual consumer characteristics that promote job retention and advancement for individuals with B/VI.

Project Outputs

Crudden, A., McDonnall, M. C., & Sui, Z. (2018). Losing Employment: At-risk employed vocational rehabilitation applicants with vision loss. Journal of Visual Impairment & Blindness, 112(4), 461-474.

Crudden, A., Giesen, J. M., & Sui, Z. (2018). Contrasting competitively employed and unemployed VR applicants with visual disabilities: Characteristics and VR service delivery patterns. Journal of Vocational Rehabilitation, 49(1), 117-126.

Crudden, A., & Steverson, A. (2018). Job retention and career advancement: VR agencies serving consumers with blindness or low vision and WIOA. The Journal of Rehabilitation, 84(4), 38-44.

Principal Researcher

Adele Crudden, crudden@colled.msstate.edu