Asians with Disabilities Outreach Project Think-Tank

Created in partnership with the Illinois Division of Rehabilitation Services (DRS) and key stakeholders, ADOPT is a community-based initiative that supports capacity building, information sharing, referrals, and workforce integration for and with Asian Americans with disabilities (AAWDs) in Chicago.

Compared to other ethnic and racial minorities with disabilities, Asian Americans with disabilities are underrepresented in the U.S. rehabilitation and disability system. In Illinois, the proportion of Asian Americans being served by the state vocational rehabilitation (VR) system is less than 2.13%, or 976 consumers out of a total of 45,863 (DRS VR Data FY 2008). These numbers are alarmingly low given the large population of Asians in the Chicago area, 4.1% of whom are working-aged and disabled (ACS, 2008). Outreach activities are therefore needed in these communities to build an information-sharing partnership that can benefit AAWDs who need VR services.

As a systems-change initiative led by the Center for Capacity Building on Minorities with Disabilities Research, the Asian American Studies Program at the University of Illinois at Chicago, and community partners, ADOPT aims to mobilize communities on an issue that is often overlooked. The information collected in the first 18 months of this project was used to create an outreach toolkit, which is currently being revised. This toolkit highlights culturally relevant outreach strategies and best practices to help bridge the service gap in the Asian American community in greater Chicago.

As part of Phase 2, we plan to implement parts of the toolkit and increase the capacity of VR offices and community organizations to help job-seekers with disabilities from underserved communities to connect with DRS and find employment in the greater Chicago area.