The Diversity Partners Project: Multi-systemic knowledge translation and business engagement strategies to improve employment of people with disabilities

Authors: Catalano,D., Pereira, A., P., Wu, M., Y., Ho, H., & Chan, F.
Year Published 2016
Publication Journal of Vocational Rehabilitation
Volume 46
Number 3
Pages 273-285
Publisher IOS Press

The Diversity Partners Project was created to develop, test, and launch a new learning intervention to improve employment outcomes for people with disabilities. Key arbiters were identified as employment service professionals (ESPs) who are skilled in using labor market data, building relationships with employers, community based disability service professionals, and staffing firm staff who specialize in locating human resources. This project was developed in response to policy changes like Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act, Title I and Title IV of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunities Act.


The purpose of this project was to test a learning intervention that would improve the relationships between ESPs and employers, and illustrate a systematic knowledge translation approach to the project. These research questions were used as a framework for development efforts:

1. How does an external agency create ongoing engagement in local ESP organizations? 2. What competencies will lead to ESPs being successful? 3. What situations do ESPs face when building relationships?


An online "Toolbox" was created through a knowledge translation process and included beta testing and feedback.


Target audiences included national ESPs and employers.

Data Collection

Online surveys and interviews were conducted.


There was no control condition.


Specific evaluation activities have yet to be developed.


Knowledge translation is difficult to achieve in varied contexts with segmented audiences and siloed systems. It is still too early to determine any concrete conclusions about the effectiveness of the Diversity Partners project.

Disabilities No specific disability
Populations Male & Female | Transition-age youth (14 - 24)
Outcomes Employment acquisition
NIDILRR Funded Yes
Research Design Observational, Qualitative
Peer Reviewed Yes