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Webinar: Disability and Employment: Research, Policy, & Practice

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The persistently low employment rates among people with disabilities in the United States are accompanied by consistently high rates of participation in safety net programs. As funding for employment related services is limited, people with disabilities who wish to access employment services may face either delays in access or scarcity of available options. The lack of coordination between available employment services and safety net programs is an additional cause for concern.

In efforts to address issues surrounding persistently low employment rates among people with disabilities, the Rehabilitation Research and Training Center on Employment Policy and Measurement (EPM-RRTC) at the Institute on Disability (IOD) is gathering compelling evidence-based information on the effectiveness of past employment promotion initiatives and efficient ways of measuring and monitoring employment outcomes as innovative policy options are tested and implemented. This webinar will focus on two current projects:

The Distribution of the Returns to Education for People with Early Onset Disabilities
Presented by: Andrew J. Houtenville, Ph.D. and Debra Brucker, Ph.D.
Families, individuals, and communities invest in education as a means of ensuring independence and self-sufficiency. This project investigates the economic returns to education of people with early onset disabilities, i.e., the increase in wages/salary associated with an additional year of education. Non-parametric regression techniques are used to estimate the distribution of returns to education. Initial findings suggest that the distribution for people with early onset physical disabilities is similar to the distribution for people without disabilities, while the returns for people with early onset mental disabilities are fixed, regardless of the years of education. This technique may be used to evaluate the quality of education received by people with early onset disabilities. 

Design of the National Employment Survey on the Status of Americans with Disabilities for the Kessler Foundation
Presented by: Vidya Sundar, Ph.D.

The long-standing employment gap between people with and without disabilities is well-documented, especially with regard to job tenure, wage difference, and opportunities for career advancement. Yet very little is known about the experiences unique to people with disabilities. The Kessler Employment Survey will examine the unique experiences of people with disabilities and identify successful strategies used by current and former workers with disabilities. It is anticipated that findings from the survey will inform development of new programs and policies to support persons with disabilities to reach their employment goals. This presentation will highlight the overarching purpose, design, and sampling strategy used in the Kessler Employment Survey, conducted by UNH Institute on Disability in partnership with the UNH Survey Center.

Presenter(s): Andrew J. Houtenville, Ph.D., Vidya Sundar, Ph.D., & Debra Brucker, Ph.D.

Andrew Houtenville, Ph.D., Associate Professor and Research Director
Dr. Andrew Houtenville is extensively involved disability statistics and employment policy research. He has published widely in the areas of disability statistics and the economic status of people with disabilities. Dr. Houtenville received his Ph.D. in Economics from the University of New Hampshire in 1997 and was a National Institute on Aging Post-Doctoral Fellow at Syracuse University in 1998/1999. He was also a Senior Research Associate at Cornell University and New Editions Consulting in McLean, Virginia.

Vidya Sundar, Ph.D., Assistant Professor
Dr. Vidya Sundar is an Assistant Professor in Occupational Therapy at the University of New Hampshire. Her research interests include community living and employment of individuals with disabilities, particularly around conceptual and psychometric issues in measuring workplace accommodations and in survey research related to workplace issues for individuals with disabilities. She currently collaborates with the UNH Institute on Disability on three federally funded research projects that focus on disability in the workplace and community living among individuals with disabilities. Dr. Sundar received her Ph.D. in rehabilitation Science from the University at Buffalo in 2007.

Debra Brucker, Ph.D., Project Director, Senior Research Coordinator
Dr. Debra Brucker is a researcher at the University of New Hampshire’s Institute on Disability, uses national level survey data (e.g., Current Population Survey, Survey of Income and Program Participation) to measure the well-being and public program participation of persons with disabilities. She has held social and health policy research positions at academic institutions, research organizations, and state agencies. Her work has been published in numerous peer-reviewed journals, including Journal of Behavioral Health Services and Research, Journal of Disability Policy Studies, and Journal of Vocational Rehabilitation.