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Kansas University Center for Developmental Disabilities

Transition and Employment

KUCDD has a new project titled "Systems in Sync." The goal of this project is to help help intergrate services for youth with special health care needs. For more information, download this flyer or contact Wendy Parent, Ph.D.

KUCDD is committed to improving the transition-related and employment outcomes for youth and adults with intellectual, developmental, or other disabilities.

The Young Women with Disabilities Take Charge project, funded by the U.S. Department of Education, Women's Educational Equity Act program. This project addresses the fact that young women with developmental disabilities leave school to less positive adult outcomes than their male counterparts. Employment rates for women with disabilities are reported to be 20-30 percent lower than women without disabilities or men with or without disabilities. Research indicates that males with disabilities are more likely to be employed, earn higher wages, work full time and to remain employed than are females. When employed, females with disabilities are more likely to be employed in unskilled jobs than males in spite of a lack of difference between sexes in I.Q., achievement, and basic job skills. Women with disabilities are Teenage girl works on a road crew holding a overrepresented in lower skilled occupations, such as service, clerical/secretarial and helping occupations, and under-represented in higher skilled jobs such as labor, managerial, technical, and administrative occupations. Despite taking roughly equal numbers of vocational education courses, the types of courses often differ, with girls taking more female-stereotyped courses (home economics) or preparing for female stereotyped jobs (cashier, child care worker) and boys enrolled in courses leading to more traditionally male roles, such as auto mechanics or carpentry.

This project has developed and is evaluating a gender equitable self-directed education to employment model that enables young women with disabilities to direct their own education and transition paths and gain skills, experience, and support in nontraditional vocational areas and to achieve competitive employment outcomes in their chosen careers. The model is based on two innovative and validated employment-focused approaches and ineffective, field-tested curriculum guide and materials: the Self-Determined Career Development Model (SDCDM), Customized Employment and Gender Matters, a training manual for educators on gender equitable practices developed by KUCDD faculty in a previous WEEA project.

During the past year, the model was implemented within seven school districts. The model was tested with one young woman with developmental disabilities in each district. Of the seven young women involved during this past year, four used the model to set employment goals and were able to obtain employment. Future project activities will involve 10 young women per school district.

To ownload a flyer regarding this project, click here.

The Assistive Technology Services for Employment project, conducted by Sara Sack at the KUCDD Parsons site, provides funds to increase the availability of assistive technology for persons with disabilities to achieve their goals for employment and independence. Each of the five AT access sites has been given funds to support services for vocational rehabilitation customers and other persons with disabilities and chronic health conditions needing employment supports. Kansas Rehabilitation Services and Assistive Technology for Kansans have worked together for the past 11 years to provide assistive technology devices and services which will support Vocational Rehabilitation customers in work-related training for work and in maintaining employment.

During the last fiscal year, 126 KRS customers received individual assistive technology services from the five AT access sites, and 440 KRS customers received training on the use and maintenance of their assistive technology devices in 200 sessions.

A related project is the Kansas AT Reuse project. The Kansas AT Reuse Program is a statewide program to recover, refurbish, and reassign durable medical equipment and AT, and is operated by the Statewide AT Act Program, Assistive Technology for Kansans at the KUCDD site in Parsons. The Kansas AT Reuse Program has been in operation for three years and has refurbished and reassigned $1.1 million of high quality durable medical equipment at no cost to Kansans with disabilities. Many of these devices were focused on supporting people with disabilities to achieve desired employment outcomes. This program has a specific focus to expand reutilization efforts to include collection, refurbishment, and reassignment of handheld digital and converged mobile organizational and navigational technologies, many of which are particularly important for employment.

The program addresses the barriers of limited reutilization inventory, program cost effectiveness (Return of Investment), and program sustainability by developing strategies to significantly increase recovery and reassignment of expensive and lightly used devices and bariatric equipment.

An emty wheelchiar beside an open car door.Third, ATK and its non-profit affiliate, KATCO, operate a financial loan program for the purchase of technology devices and services necessary for independence, inclusion, learning, and employment. The program is directed by people with disabilities and provides the financial guarantee necessary for personal financing of devices such as adapted vehicles, communication devices, hearing and vision aids, powered wheelchairs, scooters, and other mobility aids.  In addition, the KATCO Advisory Board actively reviews and implements additional financing options that would result in increased consumer choice and control.

Dissemination and Outreach efforts for the Alternative Finance programs include public service announcements, media campaigns, information booths at state and regional meetings, direct mailings, articles in newsletters, and presentations made to disability and non-disability groups. Assistive technology providers and Durable Medical Equipment vendors are involved in media outreach efforts and included in public awareness efforts.Data regarding applicant characteristics, device selection, impact of access to technology, and employment outcomes are collected and shared with the national database. Information and outcomes are shared with policymakers.

ATK and KATCO also operate the Kansas Telework Program. Similar to the KATCO initiatives in general, the Person in a wheelchair working at a computer.Telework Program focuses on developing financial loan services and supports that make working by distance an employment option for Kansans with disabilities. The Telework initiative helps people with disabilities establish their small business status, link with employers willing to hire employees for distance work, and to purchase the technology, such as computers, printers, and so forth, needed by the person to work successfully.

Another effort to impact employment outcomes involves the use of technology as a means to train direct support staff. The Kansas College of Direct Support focuses on providing on-line training to Direct Support Professionals supporting people with developmental disabilities, including people providing employment supports. The Parsons site of the KUCDD operates this online resource with Kathleen Olson.