Stakeholder Perspectives on the Utility of the Web-Based Occupational Resource Kit (W.O.R.K.): An Interactive Curriculum to Support Students with Mild Intellectual Disabilities with and without ASD in the Successful Transitioning to Employment

Friday, May 13, 2016: 10:00 AM-1:30 PM
Hall A (Baltimore Convention Center)
K. Adkisson, D. Childress, K. Melillo, C. Hehman, I. Coleman, T. Phillips and J. Chin, 3C Institute, Durham, NC
Background: Employment is essential for helping individuals with intellectual disabilities (ID) achieve independence, financial security, self-sufficiency, and to be active members in the community as well as foster a higher quality of life more generally (Test, Aspel, & Everson, 2006). However, only 25% of individuals with ID are employed two years after high school (Wagner et al., 2005). Additionally, 25% of students with ID also have a diagnosis of an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), further impacting employment outcomes (Shea, 2006). While teachers often provide the first exposure to work and help students determine the type of job or employment they would like to pursue after high school, only 31.6% of high school classes focus on preparing students for employment (Guy et al., 2009).

Objectives: To develop and conduct usability and feasibility testing of an internet accessible, interactive employment preparation program, the Web-based Occupational Resource Kit (W.O.R.K.), keyed to the learning and adaptive needs of students with ID  with and without ASD who are entering the workforce. 

Methods: Following prototype development of the W.O.R.K. program, usability and feasibility testing was conducted. Students with ID and their parents (n=21 dyads, 11 with ASD) reviewed W.O.R.K. at home for two weeks. Educators of these students (n=30) also reviewed the program. Prototype content focused on communication skills with didactic instruction in the form of brief videos and interactive exercises to test understanding and application.  Following this open review period, usability and feasibility testing of the program, online delivery platform, and student understanding of issues related to the successful transition to employment was assessed via survey and semi-structured interviews.

Results: All stakeholder groups found the program components to be of high quality and value as well as a highly usable intervention package (5-point Likert scale, 1=Strongly Disagree to 5=Strongly Agree; mean ratings > 4). Parents reported W.O.R.K. to fill a need for students with ID (M=4.57, SD=0.51) and believed the program would be effective in helping students transition to employment (M=4.33, SD=0.86). Educators rated W.O.R.K. of high overall feasibility and indicated W.O.R.K. would be a useful tool for supplementing lesson plans. Students reported the program was easy to use and engaging. Students with just ID (no ASD) enjoyed the content that contained humor and recommended more in future development. Student with ASD and ID provided comments focused more on the details of the video production (i.e., scenes recorded on green screen) and concrete applications of the presented strategies. Students with ASD and ID recommended videos about different work settings that applied more to their interests.

Conclusions: These data provide evidence for the usefulness and need of the W.O.R.K. program for students with ID with and without ASD preparing for employment.  Gathered data is being used to create a blueprint of modifications and additions needed to key the intervention to the needs of students with ID with and without ASD (e.g., different blends of instructional elements and methods, customized graphic design, tailored activities). Future steps include fully developing the instructional content, followed by a pilot efficacy study.