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

An Experiment to Evaluate Employer Intervention Approaches and their Ability to Change Attitudes and Intent to Hire

Purpose

This project uses a randomized controlled trial design to evaluate the effectiveness of two different approaches to a first meeting between a vocational rehabilitation (VR) professional and an employer, as well as the effect of having a blind versus a sighted VR professional conduct the meeting. Researchers will evaluate the impact of the two approaches and the participation of a sighted versus a blind VR professional on changing employer attitudes toward, knowledge about, and intent to hire people with blindness and visual impairments (B/VI).

Research Questions

  1. Will participation in an educational intervention change employer attitudes towards, knowledge about, and intention to hire persons who are B/VI?
  2. Does the approach used to interact with an employer result in different effects on employer attitudes towards, knowledge about, or intention to hire persons who are B/VI?
  3. Does the approach used to interact with an employer result in different effects on the willingness of the employer to schedule a follow-up meeting with a VR representative?
  4. Does meeting with a blind VR professional result in different effects on employer attitudes towards, knowledge about, or intention to hire persons who are B/VI?
  5. Does meeting with a blind VR professional result in different effects on the willingness of the employer to schedule a follow-up meeting with a VR representative?
  6. Does conducting educational interventions with multiple hiring managers within one company result in a greater number of individuals who are B/VI obtaining employment within the company?

Study Summary

One of the most commonly identified barriers to employment for individuals who are B/VI is negative employer attitudes. Evaluations of employer attitudes specifically toward persons who are B/VI have been scarce, but recent research has begun to bridge this gap. In the current study, the effectiveness of two different employer-intervention approaches that can be used by VR professionals when interacting with businesses and the effect of meeting with a blind VR professional versus a sighted VR professional will be evaluated. The two approaches are:

  • An educational approach focusing on how persons with B/VI can function on the job, including use of accommodations and assistive technology
  • A dual-customer approach focusing on learning about the business and their needs

The 44 employer participants (hiring managers) will be drawn from a large company with multiple positions that could feasibly be filled by individuals who are B/VI. The intervention will consist of hiring managers participating in a one-hour meeting with a VR professional. Hiring managers will be randomly assigned to one of the four intervention conditions. Prior to beginning the intervention, a large-scale pilot test of all measurement instruments will be conducted with employers.

Expected Outcomes and Benefits

This study will help determine whether the intervention approaches are able to change employer attitudes towards, knowledge about, and intent to hire people who are B/VI and whether one approach is more effective than the other. It will also provide information about the value of having a blind versus a sighted VR professional conduct the meeting.

Principal Researcher

Michele McDonnall, m.mcdonnall@msstate.edu