Overview and Key Components of the ADOPT Toolkit

ADOPT is designed to be:

• Relationship-centered: It supports the delivery of customer-centered, family-centered, community-oriented support to Asian (and other immigrant) job-seekers with disabilities.

• Targeted on capacity building and systems change: It focuses on recognized and demonstrated gaps in access to VR services and employment and training to improve the economic status of individuals with disabilities.

• Culturally and linguistically appropriate: Its strategies and service delivery are tailored to the unique needs of diverse customers.

• Community-based, participatory, and collaborative: It promotes open discussions that allow for the input of key stakeholders from all sectors.

The information collected by ADOPT has been synthesized and incorporated into practical strategies and recommendations. Throughout its development, we took a community capacity approach to outreach as illustrated in Appendix B. With input from the project advisory board as well as key stakeholders and university students, UIC staff have compiled and summarized state-of-the-art outreach strategies that can help to build the capacity of DRS providers to work with Asian communities.

The toolkit is designed to help VR professionals and staff understand the needs, challenges, and opportunities to improve access for and participation of AAWDs. It offers an exciting approach to outreach based on evidence and fieldwork experience. It is divided into three parts that introduce VR professionals to a broad spectrum of outreach strategies and model practices and programs.

Each chapter contains practical information and cultural insights. These strategies for outreach, fact sheets, and resources all will help DRS to reach out effectively to Asian American communities in the Chicago area. The ADOPT toolkit contains educational information and resources for proactive outreach. Ultimately, this toolkit will help all DRS staff and partners to connect with disabled individuals of all cultural and linguistic backgrounds and provide them with meaningful VR services and employment. It serves as a bridge to improving VR access and outcomes for AAWDs and other individuals with disabilities.

Rather than take a passive approach to service delivery, VR professionals and their partners can use this toolkit to be proactive in reaching out to hard-to-engage communities to participate in DRS services and programs. Using a combination of strategies, VR counselors and staff can learn about the Asian American communities of Chicago and begin to think out of the box.

The ADOPT Toolkit

Introduction to the Toolkit and Community Based Outreach

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3 

Chapter 4

Chapter 5 

Demographics and Issues Concerning Asian Americans

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Improving Vocational Rehabilitation Access and Outcomes

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Thanks are due to many individuals, providers, partners, and students who generously shared their perspectives on vocational rehabilitation disparity challenges and on opportunities for and with Chicago-based Asian Americans with disabilities. The information they provided contributed greatly to our exploration of the cultural and institutional barriers that face Chicago’s Asian Americans with disabilities as they seek vocational rehabilitation and work opportunities. Much of what was learned about Asian American culture and outreach is transferable to other ethnic and cultural groups, who also benefited from the work conducted during this initiative.

First, the ADOPT team would like to thank the Division of Rehabilitation Services (DRS) of the Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) for funding this pilot initiative through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. This funding helped create new jobs and vocational rehabilitation opportunities and supports for many jobseekers with disabilities of all ethnicities and cultures, including Asian.

Very special thanks go to the members of the project’s advisory board and three task forces for their endless commitment and dedication to ADOPT’s systems-change and capacity-building efforts. They helped drive the project in directions far beyond what was expected of the initiative. The individuals who contributed so much to the success of our work are listed in the introductory part of the toolkit.

We thank all the undergraduate and graduate students who joined in with our team spirit and helped to make this small pilot into an initiative with a big vision. We could not have succeeded without their interest in and curiosity about community-based research and advocacy. We are grateful to William Barrett, Susana Sylvester, Darryl Reynolds, Edward Seighman, Claudia Garcia, and Shawn Dimpfl at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC), who helped us with the monthly ARRA reporting demands. We also would like to extend our special thanks to Kay Robin Alexander and Joan Kocsis, who provided endless input, suggestions, and feedback on this work. Thanks to Jae Jin Pak for his generous support of ADOPT and its vision.

We also want to thank Francisco Alvarado, Assistant Director of the DRS, for his leadership in addressing the needs of Asian Americans with disabilities in the context of vocational rehabilitation services and employment. Doug Morton, Mike Scott, Lisa Reigal, and Joan Davis also gave genuine support and guidance through the administrative phases of the project. And finally special thanks to former director Robert Kilbury and the new DRS Director Dave Hanson for their support.

Lead Authors

Rooshey Hasnain, Ed.D.
Lauren A. Zawilenski, B.A.
Gaurav Singh, B.S.
Jessica Hunnell, Ph.D student
Chitra Gurung, M.S.
Carmit-Noa Shpigelman, Ph.D.
Robert Gould, M.S.
Ashmeet Oberoi, Ph.D. candidate
Paul Kaczor, M.S.
Kajal Kiran Aggarwal, M.S.W.
Fabricio Balcazar, Ph.D.
Jae Jin Pak
Samuel Kim, MPH
Elizabeth Adetoro, MPH
Eunice Paik, MPH
Jane Kim, MPH student

Lead Graphic Designer

Alfred Tsao

Visual and Art Contributors

Rachelle Johnson: Web and graphic designer
Carlos Lopez: Web and graphic designer
Sean Carino: Graphic and visual aid assistant
Phu Duong: Graphic and visual aid assistant
Liam McKeever: Binding and publishing assistant
Sean Austin: Filmmaker and ADOPT documentary producer/director
John De Jesus: Digital story assistant
Ivan Lo: Photographer
Peter Moon: Photographer

Partners, Task Force Members, and Advisory Board Members

Joe Albritton, Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities
Yussuf Ali, Refugee One
Francisco Alvarado, Assistant Director, Illinois Division of Rehabilitation Services (IDRS)
Romy Arrieta, Chinese Mutual Aid Association
Nancy Asirifi-Othchere, United African Association
Monica Barroso, Chinese Mutual Aid Association
Steve Bixler, IDRS
Marca Bristo, President/CEO, Access Living
Steve Brunton, Chinese Mutual Aid Association
Luverno Cervantes, Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights
Grace Chan, Chinese American Service League
Suey Lee Chang, Help at Home, Chinatown
Mark Chiang, Asian American Studies Program, UIC
Inchul Choi, Korean American Community Services
Pamela Clay-Wilson, IDRS
Alexandra Conroy Baig, L’Arche Chicago
Gloria Curtin, El Valor
Vandana Dalal, Midwest Asian Health Association
Tina Dillon, Dillon Reporting Service
Mike Dittmer, IDRS
Oriana Fowler, Erasing the Distance
Sarah Franz, Disability Resource Center, UIC
Karie Frazier, IDRS
Ami Gandhi, South Asian Policy and Research Institute (formerly with Asian American Institute)
Anna Guevarra, Associate Professor of Asian American Studies, UIC
Jackie HaDo Conley, Vietnamese American Community of Illinois
Christine Hammond, Illinois Department of Human Services
Renard Haygood, IDRS
Grace Hou, Assistant Secretary, Illinois Department of Human Services
Tony Hu, Tony Gourmet Group
Ahlam Jbara, Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago
Henry Jiang, Association of Chinese American Scientists and Engineers
Robin Jones, Great Lakes ADA Center, Disability & Human Development, UIC
Nick Kamboj, Standard India Restaurant
Won Kang, Business Sector Consultant
Melineh Kano, Refugee One
Jian Kim, Asian Human Services
Seth Kompha, Cambodian Association of Illinois
Jennifer Kons, Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights
Santosh Kumar, Asian Metropolitan Family Services
Kevin Kumashiro, Asian American Studies Program, UIC
Daphne Kwok, Chairperson of the President’s Advisory Commission on Asian Americans & Pacific Islanders; Asians and Pacific Islanders with Disabilities of California
Ricky Lam, Chinese American Service League
Tuyet Le, Asian American Institute
John Lee, Asian American Small Business Association
Man-Men Lee, Chicago Chinatown Chambers of Commerce
Hong Liu, Midwest Asian Health Association
Rene D. Luna, Access Living
Bhuttu Mathews, Access Living
Ali Merchant, Self-advocate
Manshaparven Mirza, Northwestern University
Aaisha Mohammad, Muslim Women Resource Center
Mary Anne Mohanraj, Asian American Studies Program, UIC
George Chunkau Mui, Chicago Regional Office Minority Business Development Association & The Organization of Chinese Americans
Tabitha Mui, Chinese American Service League
Joe Nelluvel, IDRS
Shelly Ng, American Mass Media Corporation
Thavone Nyatso, Lao American Community Services
Brighid O’Shaughnessy, Erasing the Distance
Nancy Otto, IDRS
Lavonzell Paige, Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities
Hae Sook Pak, Advocate
Jae Jin Pak, Asian American Suicide Prevention Initiative & Asian Giving Circle (formerly with Community Counseling Centers of Chicago)
Rahnee K. Patrick, Access Living
Marta Pereyra, Coalition of Limited English Speaking Elderly
Himali Pharucha, Asian Metropolitan Family Services
Bishnu Phuyal, Nepali American Center
Bonnie Pinnow, IDRS
Sima Quraishi, Muslim Women Resource Center
Francisco Ramos, Coalition of African, Arab, Asian, European & Latino Immigrants of Illinois
Jeffry Romano, Community Counseling Centers of Chicago
Soung San, Asian Human Services
IkpoBari Senewo, Asian Human Services
Linda Seyler, Coalition of Limited English Speaking Elderly
Iteadal Shalabi, Arab American Family Services
Renuka Sharma, Indo-American Center
Meredith Siemsen, Falling Petals Curator
Edwin B. Silverman, Chief, Bureau of Refugee & Immigrant Services
Khamphoui Singvongsa, Lao American Community Services
Ivy Siu, Chinese American Service League
Carol Southern, disabilityworks within the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce
Roxana Stupp, Disability Resource Center, UIC
Karen Su, Asian American Resource and Cultural Center, UIC
Nareman Taha, Arab American Family Services
Karen Tamley, Commissioner, Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities
Jamie Taradesh, Chinese Mutual Aid Association
Huy Tran, Chinese Mutual Aid Association
Alfred Tsao, Visual Arts Advisor to ADOPT
Grace Tsao, University Instructor and Self-Advocate
Lhakpa Tsering, Coalition of African, Arab, Asian, European, & Latin Immigrants of Illinois
Susan Tybon, Japanese American Service Committee of Chicago
Howard Vu, Vietnamese Association of Illinois
Kaoru Watanabe, Cambodian
Association of Illinois
James Watkins, Ability Chicago
Judith Weinstein, Heartland Alliance Refugee Health Programs
Mark Williams, Disabilityworks within the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce
Celine Woznica, Asian Health Coalition
Chi Can To, Chicago Chinatown Chambers of Commerce
Esther Wong, Chinese American Service League
Jane Young, Chinese Mutual Aid Association
Kripal Zala, Executive Director at Northside Community Resources & Rogers Park Community Development Corporation; Formerly Director & Community Liaison, City of Chicago Commission on Human Relations and Council on Asian American Affairs
Jing Zhang, Asian Human Services

Student Research Aides, UIC Alum, and Contributors

Ashley Barba
Yvonne Gail Bermas
Kathryn Joy Caneda
John Capua
Sean Carino
Elizabeth Chung
Catherine Louise Crivellone
Alyssa Deluca
J.R. Ellasos
Sara Krajcir
Adrian Ledesma
Ana Sophia Lupu
Aaron Maass
Melanie-Kukana Maglaya
Desiree Rivo
Andrew Seun
Mark Rizkalla
Michelle Robins
Ken Truong

Contact ADOPT

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Support Us

You can support ADOPT in many different ways:
  • Become a volunteer.
  • Make an in-kind donation.
  • Make a financial donation of any amount.
  •  For more information about donating to Asians with Disabilities Outreach Project Think-Tank (ADOPT), please contact:
    Keenan Cutsforth
    Assistant Dean for Advancement
    College of Applied Health Sciences
    University of Illinois at Chicago
    808 South Wood Street
    CMET, Suite 167, MC 518
    Chicago, IL 60612