As 2017 draws to a close, I’d like to share some exciting projects that I’ve been doing with Disability Wisdom Consulting. I publish a quarterly update newsletter to highlight ongoing projects and also to share some resources that might interest readers of this blog. Please feel free to share the below newsletter in your networks.
Dear friends and colleagues:
As always, thank you for supporting Disability Wisdom Consulting. As we come to the end of another year, I want to take this time to share a few updates and resources that you might find interesting. Please feel free to share broadly.
Adult Rehabilitation and Employment Survey Series:
Over the past 18 months, I’ve been honored to work with Dr. Edward Bell and Mary Ann Mendez at the Professional Development and Research Institute on Blindness (PDRIB) on a research project. We began by collecting demographic and employment data from a group of about 1,000 blind adults in the United States to look at current employment patterns and factors that were associated with employment. Results from this initial survey replicate previous findings: about one-third of the blind adults who have completed vocational rehabilitation (VR) are employed full-time, with about 20% working in self-employed or part-time positions. Many of these individuals, though employed, are still not earning enough to leave the Social Security Disability rolls. Consistent with past research, we found that having more formal education, using braille on a regular basis, and being a member of a blindness consumer organization were correlated with employment. We also found that individuals who were blind with additional disabilities reported lower employment rates and likely face additional barriers in the workplace. We will be submitting these results to the Journal of Blindness Innovation and Research (JBIR), a peer-reviewed, open-access journal dedicated to publishing scholarly discourse on blindness. Learn about the journal here.
We are continuing this project with four follow-up surveys to ask blind adults in the United States for more in-depth feedback on their experiences with employment, parenting, training and rehabilitation, and psychosocial issues. These surveys are unique in that they include both closed-ended and open-ended questions to describe trends as well as to gather more subjective input from blind individuals regarding barriers and facilitators to participation. It is also unique in that all three people on the research team are blind, and we have incorporated our lived experiences into the design of the survey questions.
The results from the employment and parenting surveys are being compiled and prepared for publication at this time, while the other two surveys are still ongoing. I will provide updates as the results from these surveys are published.
The Impact of Blindness Simulations:
Last summer, I gave a brief talk at the 2017 National Organization of Parents of Blind Children (NOPBC) conference describing my earlier research on blindness simulations. I explain the social-psychological theories underlying this work and a few anecdotes from experiments we conducted to test the impact of simulating blindness on sighted college students’ attitudes and beliefs about blindness. A transcript of my talk was recently published in the NOPBC’s quarterly magazine. Click here to read a transcript of my talk.
Tips for Making Images Accessible on Social Media:
Sharing pictures on the Web and social media is easier than ever. When you share pictures of your loved ones, or a digital flyer for your next event, be sure your blind followers aren’t left out of the fun. Check out this blog postto help take the mystery out of image descriptions.
Disability Inclusion Planning Toolkit:
I recently joined the inclusion committee for the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington. They have created an excellent inclusion toolkit that organizations can use to evaluate their inclusion and accessibility. The toolkit contains printable discussion guides, as well as interactive self-assessment tools. Although it was originally created for synagogues, it can be useful to any organization serving the public. The inclusion tool is free and available to the public. Learn more about the inclusion tool here.
Knowledge Translation Highlights:
Research in Focus Series:
I write a weekly column called Research in Focus for the National Rehabilitation Information Center (NARIC) website. Each Research in Focus article is a reader-friendly summary of a recent disability-related study. In this newsletter, I want to highlight two recent Research in Focus articles that I found particularly interesting. The first highlighted results of a coaching program to empower youth receiving “wraparound” behavioral health services. The coaching helped the youth participate more actively in their team meetings, making the meetings a more positive experience for all involved. Principles from this coaching program could be applied to youth participating in education or transition planning as well. Read about wraparound coaching here
A second Research in Focus article highlights data from young adults who are deaf-blind. This population is small and has not been well-studied. The results show that young adults whose parents expected them to find jobs were more likely to find jobs than those whose parents did not. This pattern was especially strong when the deaf-blind adult had other disabilities as well. While this isn’t a surprising finding, it shows that parents can make a real difference in their children’s futures, even (and especially) when the children have complex disabilities. Read about the power of high parental expectations here
Website and Blog Highlights
Check out some recent blog posts:
Learn about the ABCs of good disability awareness, what would really make life with disability better, the benefits of gratitude,and a letter I wrote to my teenage self.
Join the Disability Wisdom Discussion Group on Facebook!
The Disability Wisdom Discussion Group now has over a thousand members from around the world. This group is open to people with disabilities, as well as those who work in the disability field, or who have loved ones with disabilities. Click here to join the group
Until next time,
Arielle Silverman, Ph.D.
Disability Wisdom Consulting