Article Details

Research Database: Article Details

Citation:  Taylor-Ritzler, T., Balcazar, F.E., Suarez-Balcazar, Y., Kilbury, R., Alvarado, F., & James, M. (2010). Engaging ethnically diverse individuals with disabilities in the Vocational Rehabilitation system: Themes of empowerment and oppression. Journal of Vocational Rehabilitation, 33 (1), 3-14.
Title:  Engaging ethnically diverse individuals with disabilities in the Vocational Rehabilitation system: Themes of empowerment and oppression
Authors:  Taylor-Ritzler, T., Balcazar, F.E., Suarez-Balcazar, Y., Kilbury, R., Alvarado, F., & James, M.
Year:  2010
Journal/Publication:  Journal of Vocational Rehabilitation
Publisher:  IOS Press
DOI:  https://doi.org/10.3233/JVR-2010-0511
Full text:  http://content.iospress.com/articles/journal-of-vocational-rehabili...   
Peer-reviewed?  Yes
NIDILRR-funded?  Yes

Structured abstract:

Background:  . The current study was conducted to identify challenges in engaging consumers with disabilities from diverse ethnic and cultural backgrounds and effective strategies to overcome these challenges in the Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) system. Twenty one VR counselors from a large Midwestern state were nominated by their supervisors to participate in semi-structured qualitative interviews because of exemplary work over more than five years. Interviews were transcribed verbatim and subjected to qualitative analysis. Counselors identified the following challenges for some of their multicultural consumers: (1) lack of knowledge about their responsibilities and role within the VR system; (2) lack of a vision and plan for their future success; and (3) lack of a sense of efficacy about their ability to be successful. These challenges are related to experiences of oppression. Effective strategies were related to processes of empowerment within the context of the therapeutic relationship. Study findings have implications for the VR system related to providing support and training to VR counselors and VR counseling students on how to work effectively with consumers with disabilities from diverse ethnic backgrounds.
Study sample:  Twenty one Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) counselors from a large Midwestern state were nominated by their supervisors to participate in the current study based on five or more years of exemplary job performance. Participants worked in VR offices throughout the state that served rural, suburban, urban, and medium sized communities. The counselors were demographically representative of those working within the state VR system; 16 were White, four were African American, and one was Native American. Two counselors reported that they had visible disabilities. Fifteen were female and six were male. Counselors had an average of 17 years of experience in the VR system (SD = 9.29; Range = 6–40 years).
Findings:  As noted, the focus of the analysis was on understanding the strategies that VR counselors with a record of success used to engage their consumers from diverse ethnic backgrounds in the rehabilitation process. The findings are presented below in two sections; the first reports the challenges faced by VR consumers and the second reports effective strategies for addressing identified challenges. In general, one representative quote is included for each of the reported themes. Transcript identification numbers follow the quotes and illustrate that they are drawn from across the study sample.
Conclusions:  The findings that emerged from the current study show that VR consumers from diverse ethnic backgrounds deal with a host of challenges in their day-to-day lives that, in concert, reflect experiences of oppression [10]. Noteworthy is that these challenges are reported by VR counselors who have track records of success and are described within the context of cases of consumers who achieved successful rehabilitation outcomes. Moreover, VR counselors described strategies that they used to support consumers to address their challenges; strategies that encompass an empowerment approach to VR counseling. As such, the findings that emerged from the current study highlight themes of oppression and empowerment in engaging ethnically diverse consumers with disabilities in the VR system.

Disabilities served:  Multiple disabilities
Populations served:  Culturally diverse populations (e.g., African Americans, Native Americans, and non-English speaking populations)
Interventions:  Vocational rehabilitation
Outcomes:  Employment acquisition