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

Exploration of Secondary Data to Increase our Knowledge about Subpopulations of Individuals who are Blind and Visually Impaired and WIOA Impacts

Purpose

This project is an exploratory study that will utilize two large secondary databases to increase knowledge about subpopulations (youth and adults with deaf-blindness [DB] and persons with combined traumatic brain injury [TBI] and blindness and visual impairments [B/VI]) and the impacts on employment outcomes of changes associated with the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) legislation.

Research Questions

  1. What are the characteristics, academic experiences and achievements, and employment experiences of youth with DB?
  2. What are the correlates and predictors of post-school employment for youth with DB?
  3. What factors predict employment outcomes for individuals with DB served by vocational rehabilitation (VR)?
  4. Is the model used to provide services to individuals with DB associated with employment outcomes?
  5. What are the characteristics (including veteran status), services received, and employment outcomes of individuals with combined TBI and B/VI served by VR?
  6. What factors predict employment outcomes for individuals with combined TBI and B/VI served by VR?
  7. Is the model used to provide services to individuals with combined TBI and B/VI associated with employment outcomes?
  8. What is the impact of the WIOA legislation on services received and employment outcomes for youth who are B/VI?
  9. What is the impact of the WIOA legislation on services received and employment outcomes for adults who are B/VI?
  10. Do the impacts on employment outcomes of the WIOA legislation differ by type of VR agency (blind vs. combined)?

Study Summary

Employment-related research regarding youth and adults with DB and persons with combined TBI and B/VI is virtually nonexistent. These are very small subpopulations of an already-small population, and limited research attention has been focused on these groups. As an initial step to understanding employment issues for these groups, we will utilize secondary data sources to investigate correlates and predictors of employment for (a) youth who are DB, (b) adults who are DB, and (c) persons with combined TBI and B/VI. We will also utilize secondary data to evaluate the impact of the legislative changes associated with the 2014 WIOA legislation, in particular the requirement to spend 15% of VR funds on pre-employment transition services (Pre-ETS) for students with disabilities.

We will utilize two data sources for this study: the National Longitudinal Transition Survey 2 (NLTS2) and multiple years of the Rehabilitation Services Administration Case Service Report (RSA-911) data. Additional data will be collected directly from VR agency administrators in a survey. Questions regarding how services are provided to individuals with DB and combined TBI and B/VI and how the agency is handling the Pre-ETS requirements will be included in the survey. This data will be combined with outcome data from RSA-911. If these analyses are able to identify agency practices or strategies that appear to be particularly effective for either of these subpopulations, follow-up interviews with the VR agency will be conducted and a policy brief describing the results will be developed.

Expected Outcomes and Benefits

This project will use data analysis to shed much-needed light on the factors associated with positive employment outcomes for individuals with DB and individuals with combined TBI and B/VI. Promising practices and policies will be shared with VR agencies to potentially improve employment outcomes for these populations.

Project Outputs

Cmar, J.L., McDonnall, M.C., & Markoski, K.M. (2018). In-school predictors of post-school employment for youth who are deaf-blind. Career Development and Transition for Exceptional Individuals, 41(4), 223-233. DOI: 10.1177/2165143417736057

McDonnall, M.C., & Cmar, J. (2018). Employment outcomes and job quality of vocational rehabilitation consumers with deaf-blindness. Rehabilitation Counseling Bulletin. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1177/0034355218769461

McDonnall, M. C., & Cmar, J. (2018). Experiences of young adults with deaf-blindness after high school. Journal of Visual Impairment & Blindness, 112(4), 403-410.

McDonnall, M. C., & Cmar, J. L. (2017). Characteristics and experiences of youth who are deaf-blind. Mississippi State, MS: National Research and Training Center on Blindness and Low Vision.

Cmar, J. L., McDonnall, M. C., & Markoski, K. M. (2017). In-school predictors of post-school employment for youth who are deaf-blind. Career Development and Transition for Exceptional Individuals, Advance online publication. DOI: 10.1177/2165143417736057

Principal Researcher

Michele McDonnall, m.mcdonnall@msstate.edu