Masters Thesis

The Effectiveness of the Transition into Independent Living Program in assisting adults with disabilities develop skills that will help them in obtaining employment after graduation: how has the American [sic] with Disabilities Act facilitated this transition?

This study will evaluate the effectiveness of the TIL program based on job attainment of graduate students, with an emphasis on the career education section of the program with the use of the ADA and how it has facilitated their transition into independence. At Taft College (TC), The Transition into Independent Living Program (TIL) is responsible for teaching daily living skills, social skills, functional skills, and career and work skills to adults with Intellectual Disabilities (ID) once they are accepted into the program. Most adults with ID live off of fixed budget provided by Supplemental Security Income (SSI). This amount is not enough for one to live independently and comfortably, and would require assistance, that would normally be given by family members. In many cases when searching for employment, they are at a disadvantage because many are unprepared, lack the skills to obtain a job, and are unaware of assistance that is available for them that will help avoid discrimination due to their disabilities and how they can obtain that assistance. This program evaluation interviewed individuals who are employees of the TIL Program, working specifically in the career education department and are actively involved with individuals with disabilities. It also analyzed data gathered for an eleven year period of graduate’s weekly hourly employment rates. Participants stated that developing relationships with family, friends, and employers help increase their networking abilities that will ultimately increase the chances of finding employment. Others stated that through internships students have job training that will help them gain hands on experience, work ethics, and skills that will make them better applicants. 40 percent stated that it has helped educate employers to the benefits of employing an individual with a disability. The majority of the participants stated that it has made employers more open minded and made buildings to be compliance with the rules and regulations of an individual with a disability. Although there have been improvements in the perception of employers when hiring someone with a disabilities, the participants stated that the ADA must continue to educate employers to ensure that businesses. According to the data gathered of students from the class of 2001 to 2011, out of 120 graduates that were tracked, 97 students (or 81 percent) are currently employed working 5 to 48 hours a week, averaging almost 18 hours a week. Out of this group, 18 (or 15 percent) work 30 hours or more; 79 (or 66 percent) worked 1 to 29 hours a week; 13 (or 11 percent) stated they worked zero hours or had no employment. Participants stated that while the ADA has helped the program in developing regulations that requires accommodations for individuals who require them. For example, providing job trainers or coaches for either temporary or permanent assistance for individual who request or require one, it still needs improvement. Overall, the career education section demonstrated efficiency in assisting adults with ID develop skills that will help them become successful when finding employment.

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