MRC Team Validates Evaluation Instrument for Transition-Aged Youth with Disabilities
Drs. Emre Umucu and Beatrice Lee, and Ms. Estala-Gutierrez of the Master of Rehabilitation Counseling (MRC) Program, were recently notified that their manuscript, “Psychometric Evaluation of a Measure Assessing Functional Limitations of Students with Disabilities: An Adaptation of the World Health Organization Disability Assessment Schedule 2.0,” was published in the Rehabilitation Counseling Bulletin. Umucu, Lee, and Estala-Gutierrez were part of a writing team that included Rehabilitation Counseling practitioners and professors from outside UTEP with expertise in psychosocial and vocational rehabilitation.
The team’s study involved youth enrolled in PROMISE (Promoting Readiness of Minors in Supplemental Security Income), a program of the Department of Education that focuses on preparing youth with disabilities who are currently receiving supplemental security income (SSI) for a transition into higher education or employment settings.
Umucu was PI for a Department of Education grant through the University of Wisconsin-Madison (PI – Dr. Tim Tansey) for the PROMISE program. The grant, which ended in October of this year, provided funding to analyze data examining the validity of some scales and total healthcare expenditures of the PROMISE program.
The Workforce Investment and Opportunity Act requires that states set aside 15% of their budgets to provide pre-employment services for youth with disabilities who are eligible to receive services. However, it can be challenging for state vocational rehabilitation program services providers to determine functional impairment and specific needs for clients who are not recipients of federal program funding such as SSI or who don’t have an IEP (individualized education program) through their school district. To address this issue, the team developed the WHODAS-Y, which is based on the World Health Organization’s International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health to assess the impact of a health condition or disability on daily functioning, and which includes eleven domains of daily living.
In the study, the team surveyed 436 youth between the ages of 14 and 16. Based on the responses of the participants in each of the domains, they were able to conclude that the WHODAS-Y is a reliable measure of functional impairment in transition-aged youth with disabilities receiving SSI in a community setting. Despite the limitations of a shortened transition-age range and the potential for survey respondent answers being skewed toward youth that were higher functioning, the instrument can still serve individual rehabilitation service providers and agencies as they look to assess function and readiness to work when planning transition services for their clients.
“Directly or indirectly helping youth with disabilities to achieve their personal, educational, health, and career goals is very meaningful, and we are grateful as a UTEP team to have had this very profound opportunity,” said Umucu. “We hope that this scale will help rehabilitation counseling researchers and clinicians to measure functional limitations in youth with disabilities.”
For additional information about the Master of Rehabilitation Counseling Program, please visit: www.utep.edu/chs/mrc
Access the team’s entire article online here: https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/0034355220962176