Science in Seconds: With FAU's College of Education

Science in Seconds: With FAU's College of Education

Researchers Help Students with Unique Abilities Find Jobs

Less than 10% of adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities in Florida are employed, and those that are make the lowest annual earnings of any disability population, earning approximately $30,000 annually, according to FAU researchers from the College of Education.

But FAU’s College of Education recently received a grant to help better those statistics and the lives of students with intellectual disabilities by building their employment and independent living skills.

The three-year, $1.5 million grant through the Florida Center for Students with Unique Abilities (FCSUA) supports the FAU Academy for Community Inclusion, led by Rangasamy Ramasamy, Ph.D., principal investigator, professor and interim chair, department of special education, FAU College of Education and Kelly Kearney, Ed.D., co-principal investigator, and associate director of the FAU Academy for Community Inclusion.

“Participation in our academy will lead to community employment training experiences for our students, many with future employers,” Kearney said. “Students who graduate from the FAU Academy for Community Inclusion acquire skills and experience that make them eligible for competitive employment in industries that require specific skills and knowledge needed to perform the job.”

The FAU Academy for Community Inclusion is the only option for a Florida Postsecondary Comprehensive Transition Program for adults with intellectual disabilities in the area. The grant supports full-time instructional staff to coordinate the programs across two FAU campuses, the John D. MacArthur Campus in Jupiter and the Boca Raton campus. The academy will serve 60 new students throughout the grant cycle, with up to 10 students admitted each fall per campus across the next three fall semesters.

Coursework at the academy focuses on applicable, transferable employability skills. Students progress through a sequence of learning experiences, introducing employment preparation and career exploration opportunities, leading to campus-based training in employment settings. The internships are tailored toward each student’s individual career goals and provide real-world experience in the field of their choice. At the end of a student’s studies, they obtain a part-time job in a competitive and inclusive setting.

“Because students in the FAU Academy for Community Inclusion get time to explore areas that interest them, as well as internship opportunities on and off campus, they get meaningful experiences with on-site job coaching before they even apply for jobs,” Ramasamy said. “Often, the internships are enjoyable opportunities, but sometimes they also can serve as a ‘non-example’ of the kind of work a student does not want to do – either way, they are instrumental learning opportunities.”

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