The Institute for Human Development (IHD) at Northern Arizona University was recently awarded a 3-year grant of approximately $600,000 from the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research to conduct a community-based participatory research (CBPR) project about American Indian Vocational Rehabilitation Services (AIVRS).
Funded in large part by the federal government, AIVRS programs support integrated, high-quality employment for tribal members with disabilities living on or near recognized tribal service areas. Although state-based Vocational Rehabilitation has been studied extensively by academics, there is little research on Vocational Rehabilitation in Indian County. The Culturally Appropriate Research in American Indian Employment (CARE) project is designed to address this gap in academic research, utilizing a CBPR model.
At its core, CBPR ensures that members of the communities being studied are involved in the design of the and data collection. IHD Executive Director Kelly Roberts explains, “CBPR is ideal for the exploratory nature of this project because it means that historically-marginalized Native American stakeholders will have joint ownership and leadership in this work. This research demands respecting and honoring the immense wisdom and community strengths of sovereign tribal communities.”
The CARE project is a natural extension of the work already in place at IHD. Currently, IHD houses a training and technical assistance center for AIVRS programs, and its researchers know first-hand that quality academic research on AIVRS practices will improve employment outcomes for Native Americans with disabilities. Project Coordinator Winona Reid (Navajo/Diné) notes, “Through implementation, many AIVRS sites already know what works and what doesn’t. We want to work together to demonstrate that this knowledge is rooted in evidence-based practices.”
About the Institute for Human Development
The Institute for Human Development is home to a wide range of interdisciplinary programs, efforts that support its mission of facilitating ongoing improvements in access, attitude and inclusion for people with disabilities. IHD, which celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2017, is one of the nation’s premier centers focused on promoting full inclusion by advancing attitudes that value persons with disabilities and enhancing access to all aspects of the human experience. IHD is a dynamic, multi-faceted environment staffed with faculty and professionals representing a range of human service disciplines and offering a broad spectrum of resources and programs for both NAU students and members of the community.