Research News

UW-Madison’s Tansey conducting studies on how best to support employment of youth with disabilities

November 21, 2019

Tim Tansey, an associate professor with the School of Education’s Department of Rehabilitation Psychology and Special Education, will serve as the principal investigator (PI) on the UW-Madison sub-awards for two major new grant-funded projects.

Virginia Commonwealth University Professor Paul Wehman is the PI on the two five-year, $4.4 million awards (total funding of $8.8 million) from the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research in the U.S Department of Health and Human Services. VCU will lead and coordinate a dozen studies across four universities, including Vanderbilt University and Kent State University, to conduct research on how to improve vocational readiness and employment outcomes for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, as well as transition-age youth with disabilities.

Tim Tansey
Wehman is known for his pioneering work in the beginning of supported employment in 1980, a rehabilitation intervention strategy that has helped millions of people with neurodevelopmental disabilities, brain injury, mental illness, and spinal cord injury in countries around the world gain competitive employment. 

In addition to Tansey, the Rehabilitation Research and Training Center (RRTC) on Employment of Individuals with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (IDD), under the project direction of Valerie Brooke (VCU), includes Fong Chan as the co-PI and Catherine Anderson and Ellie Hartman as co-investigators on the UW–Madison subaward. The RRTC on Employment of Transition Age Individuals with Disabilities project is under the direction of Elizabeth Getzel (VCU), with Anderson as a co-PI and Hartman as co-investigator. 

For the RRTC on Employment of Persons with Intellectual and Development Disabilities project, researchers at UW-Madison will conduct a study to identify the efficacy of a blended learning intervention program (TECH-Prep) to increase technology career interests and career readiness of African-American youth with developmental disabilities.

The TECH-Prep program combines mentoring by professionals in STEM fields, training in basic coding, and paid internships with technology companies. Successful implementation of the program has the potential to identify new pathways of service delivery for vocational rehabilitation counselors and overall vocational achievement for you with IDD.

The RRTC on Employment of Transition-Age Youth with Disabilities project seeks to identify best practices for supporting transition-age youth with disabilities in the workplace. Researchers will conduct qualitative case studies of youth with disabilities, their families, service providers, and their employers to better understand their lived experiences. The goals of this project are to identify the barriers to and facilitators of outcomes for transition-age youth with disabilities, as well as identifying existing practices, programs, or policies that are associated with employment outcomes.