Research

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 Funded by the United States Department of Education, National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR).

Current Research Activities

Employment Outcomes Research

A lack of employment opportunities continues to prevent large numbers of individuals who are blind or severely visually impaired from becoming self-supporting and from fully participating in society. Nationally representative data from 2014 document that employment rates among individuals aged 16 to 64 who are blind or visually impaired are around 30%, as compared with 72% employment among people without disabilities. Specific subgroups of individuals with visual impairment show even lower employment rates. Scientific research is needed to evaluate the effectiveness of existing practices and new interventions that can improve workforce participation by individuals who are blind or visually impaired.

Rehabilitation Research and Training Center (RRTC) on Employment Outcomes for Individuals who are Blind or Visually Impaired (2010-2015)

In 2010, researchers at the NRTC proposed six research strands in response to the priority issued by the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR) for an RRTC on Employment Outcomes for Individuals who are Blind or Visually Impaired. NIDILRR specified that research under this RRTC should include individuals who are legally blind, and should include those who are at additional risk for poor employment outcomes. Our proposal won this competitive grant (NIDILRR grant 90RT5011-01-00), and we have been conducting work on six major research projects and training and technical assistance activities since October 2010. Click here for more details.

Rehabilitation Research and Training Center (RRTC) on Employment for Individuals with Blindness or Other Visual Impairments (2015-2020)

In 2015, researchers at the NRTC again proposed six major research projects in response to the priority issued by the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR) for an RRTC on Employment Outcomes for Individuals with Blindness or Other Visual Impairments. The purpose of this RRTC is to conduct research that generates new knowledge about the efficacy of rehabilitation services and technology used to support improved employment outcomes for this population, including three specific subpopulations: youth who are B/VI, people who are deaf-blind, and people with combined traumatic brain injury and B/VI. Our proposal won this competitive grant (NIDILRR grant 90RT5040-01-00), and we began working on these six new research projects and training and technical assistance activities in October 2015. Click here for more information about the new research projects.

Independent Living Services for Older Individuals who are Blind (OIB)
Training and Technical Assistance

The National Research & Training Center on Blindness and Low Vision (NRTC) will implement new training and technical assistance projects focused on agencies serving older individuals who are blind (OIB). This grant is funded by the Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA) under the Department of Education. To accomplish the goals of the project, the project staff will be working in collaboration with the American Foundation for the Blind (AFB), the Helen Keller National Center for Deaf-Blind Youths and Adults (HKNC), and VisionServe Alliance. All activities are designed to improve the operation and performance of OIB programs through improved community outreach, use of best practices in the provision of services, improved data reporting and analysis, and stronger financial and management practices. Click here to learn about the six individual projects supported by this grant.

Program Evaluations

Older Blind Program Evaluations

We conduct evaluations of state rehabilitation programs providing independent living services to older individuals who are blind or severely visually impaired, under the Title VII-Chapter 2 program.

  • Alabama (Farrow, PI)
  • Arkansas (Farrow, PI)
  • Georgia (Farrow, PI)
  • Massachusetts (LeJeune, PI)
  • New Jersey (Farrow, PI)
  • Utah (Steverson, PI)
  • Virginia (Bedsaul, PI)

Consumer Satisfaction Studies

We conduct consumer satisfaction studies for two organizations within the Alabama Department of Rehabilitation Services. The purpose of the studies is to help those organizations improve their services based on feedback from the people that they serve.

  • Vocational Rehabilitation Services – Blind Services (McDonnall, PI)
  • Children’s Rehabilitation Service (McDonnall, PI)

Needs Assessments & Randolph-Sheppard BEP Program Evaluations

We conduct comprehensive needs assessments and evaluations of the Randolph-Sheppard Business Enterprise Programs for state VR agencies upon request. Please contact Michele McDonnall at 662-325-2001 or m.mcdonnall@msstate.edu for more information.

Completed Research Activities

Employment Outcomes for Transition-Aged Youth

Funded by National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research, Grant #H133A070001
(Cavenaugh, Crudden, Giesen, LeJeune & McDonnall, Pls)
For more information, contact Brenda Cavenaugh at bcavenaugh@colled.msstate.edu

Persons Aging with Hearing and Vision Loss

Funded by the National Institute of Disability Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR Grant #H133A020701)

Moderators of Depressive Symptoms for Older Adults with Dual Sensory Loss

Funded by the National Institute on Aging
(McDonnall, PI)

NRTC Publications

The NRTC has a long history of publishing research results in peer-reviewed journals and monographs. Click here for information about our most recent publications (2001 to the present), publications available for purchase, and publications available for download.

Participate In Our Research

Are you interested in being involved in research about people who are blind or visually impaired? Click here for more information.