PI: DEBRA CHILDRESS
TERM: 09/15 – 09/17
Employment is essential for helping individuals with intellectual disabilities achieve independence, financial security, and self-sufficiency to be active members in the community as well as foster a higher quality of life more generally. However, only 25% of individuals with intellectual disabilities are employed two years after high school. Utilizing 3C’s proprietary dynamic e-learning platform, the goal of this SBIR project was to create the first self-paced, adaptive job skills intervention designed specifically to meet the learning styles and social-emotional needs of students with intellectual disabilities. The end product, WORK (Web-based Occupational Resource Kit), enhances students’ preparedness for postsecondary employment, optimizing likelihood of success in the workforce following completion of high school. During Phase II, we accomplished three technical objectives. First, we conducted iterative software development and testing with key stakeholders to inform the development of the program content and interface. Second, we developed implementation materials, such as the Online Implementation Center, where providers can access program functions and implementation support tools. Third, we conducted pilot testing of the product with secondary students with intellectual disabilities to assess the usability and feasibility of the product in its intended educational delivery setting.
Through development of the proposed WORK product, we: 1) engaged secondary students with intellectual disabilities in a customized online interactive environment for scaffolded learning and practice; 2) increased educators’ access to the intervention through easy to use and feasible technology; 3) strengthened the home-school partnership through integrated resources, reports, and activities for easy sharing with parents; and 4) enhanced educators’ skills for implementing the intervention through online professional development tools. The low cost and usability of the product ensure maximal feasibility and significantly increases the reach of this novel tool for benefiting special educators and students with intellectual disabilities. Through this SBIR project, the WORK product provides instruction, support, and interactive exercises based on individual needs to promote the development of critical employment, self-determination and advocacy skills of students with intellectual disabilities thereby supporting these individuals in achieving and maintaining employment.