RPSE faculty awarded $16.7 million grant for center supporting employment for people with disabilities

Several UW–Madison faculty members from the School of Education’s Department of Rehabilitation Psychology and Special Education (RPSE) have been awarded a $16.7 million grant from the Rehabilitation Services Administration to support the creation of a new technical assistance center at UW–Madison that will work to reduce barriers to employment for people with disabilities.

VRTAC-QE project faculty
The VRTAC-QE project is led by (clockwise from upper-left) Timothy Tansey, Malachy Bishop, David Rosenthal, and Jina Chun

The center, which will be called the Vocational Rehabilitation Technical Assistance Center for Quality Employment (VRTAC-QE), will focus on increasing the knowledge and skills of state vocational rehabilitation (VR) agencies that aid individuals with disabilities in finding employment. Some specific objectives for the center include the development of a state-of-the art, accessible website for communicating with state VR agencies; conducting a comprehensive review of effective strategies and best practices that lead to employment for people with disabilities; and providing targeted training and technical assistance to state VR agencies, among other initiatives.

Timothy Tansey, a professor with the department and the principal investigator on the project, noted the important role of state VR agencies in providing essential services to people with disabilities.

“We are eager, with our collaborators, to provide technical assistance and training to increase the capacity of these agencies and the people they serve,” said Tansey.

Other RPSE faculty members who are involved in the project include: Malachy Bishop, the Norman L. and Barbara M. Berven Professor of Rehabilitation Psychology and co-investigator on the project, as well as Jina Chun, an assistant professor, and David Rosenthal, a professor, who are directing specific project areas.

“Full participation in the community is universally recognized as one of the most important quality of life outcomes for people with chronic illness and disability,” explained Rosenthal. “This new, multi-faceted center will work to identify and ameliorate economic and environmental barriers to employment, while implementing evidence-based employment strategies that enable individuals with disabilities to achieve quality employment and career advancement.”

To accomplish these outcomes, UW–Madison will partner with national leaders in research and training at Virginia Commonwealth University, the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, the Human Development Institute at the University of Kentucky, Florida Atlantic University (a Hispanic Serving Institution, or HSI), South Carolina State University (a Historically Black College), the University of Texas at El Paso (HSI), Iowa Wesleyan University, the Stout Vocational Rehabilitation Institute (SVRI), the Council of State Administrators of Vocational Rehabilitation, the Autism Workforce, Yolobe, and several direct service organizations engaged in innovative practices in the employment of persons with disabilities.

Learn more about the VRTAC-QE project, here.