Many Asian Americans with disabilities (AAWD) living in greater Chicago and surrounding areas are qualified and motivated to work but find it difficult to obtain meaningful employment. Researchers know that a major factor in this real-life scenario is a lack of awareness by vocational rehabilitation (VR) and community service providers of the VR needs of AAWD and how to reach out to them (Hasnain & Leung, 2010). However, due to this initiative, the project team and its partners were able to create and introduce a new, effective VR model of service delivery.
The project known as ADOPT (Asians with Disabilities Outreach Project Think-Tank) was designed to help VR agencies increase their capacity to help Chicago-based AAWD gain access to the state VR system and also to increase the quality of services provided, through culturally and linguistically appropriate outreach.
The project, which is funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009, is operated by the Center for Capacity Building on Minorities with Disabilities Research at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC), in collaboration with the Division of Rehabilitation Services (DRS) of the Illinois Human Services Department (DHS) and many local Asian-serving agencies, businesses, and advocacy groups.
A Quick Summary
In January 2010, the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) received four years of non-consecutive capacity-building funding to help underserved Asian immigrants and refugees with disabilities in Illinois to access culturally and linguistically relevant support(s) to aid them in finding employment. The project has been working closely with the state VR system, which already had a reputation for attempting to partner with people with disabilities and their families to assist them in making informed choices to achieve full community participation through employment, education, and independent living opportunities.
The goals of ADOPT include three continuing efforts: 1) development of outreach strategies and tools that VR agencies and community-based organizations (CBOs) can use to help AAWD and other immigrant and refugee job seekers with disabilities find employment; 2) research, in the form of focus groups and qualitative and quantitative data analysis; and 3) focus by ADOPT’s three task forces on high-priority, community-identified needs.
These task forces emphasize agency capacity building to address disability and VR barriers, cultural and linguistic capacities at Illinois DRS, and promote employment opportunities with and for AAWD.
UIC is home to the renowned Institute on Disability and Human Development, Illinois’ only federally designated University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities Education, Research and Service.
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