Academic journal article Educational Technology & Society

The Impact of Simulated Interviews for Individuals with Intellectual Disability

Academic journal article Educational Technology & Society

The Impact of Simulated Interviews for Individuals with Intellectual Disability

Article excerpt

Introduction

Preparing students and families to cope with the challenges of transitioning into society is a complex process for any student and can be especially difficult for students with disabilities. The difficulty of transition is further substantiated by poor employment outcomes for students with disabilities in the United States (U.S.). Youth with disabilities are less likely to work (57% vs. 66%) once they complete secondary schooling as compared to the general population (Newman, Wagner, Cameto, & Knokey, 2009). The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) (2014) reports the highest percentages of unemployed persons come from two groups: high school dropouts and people with disabilities. In October, 2015, the unemployment rate for individuals with disabilities (10.5%) was double the unemployment rate for those without a disability (4.6%) (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2015). Even when possessing a high school diploma, an individual with a disability is far less likely to have a job than someone without a disability. For example, only 58% of individuals with disabilities are employed full-time up to four years out of high school and the majority of those individuals report having to work 2-3 part-time jobs to meet full-time hours (Newman et al., 2009).

These data are alarming and have societal implications beyond the financial well-being of individuals with disabilities and their families. The effects of unemployment are much greater than lack of income and can have a significant negative effect on happiness and life-satisfaction (Kassenboehmer & Hasisken-DeNew, 2009). Employment has a great impact on quality of life; however, to become successfully employed there are prerequisite skills needed by all employees. One such skill is the ability to secure employment through the job interview.

Social skills can have a profound impact on an individual's interview performance. The ability to identify overt or subtle cues in specific environments or situations, such as the job interview, can be the difference between a job offer and a job rejection (Smith & Matson, 2010; Wehmeyer & Schwartz, 1998). However, students with ID often struggle with social skills and self-advocacy behaviors that are expected to be displayed in successful interviews (Crites & Dunn, 2004). For example, first impressions are considered to be important (Allen, 1994; Brown, 2000; Hawkins, 2004; Shipley & Wood, 1996). First impressions are often based on one's ability to appear confident yet humble in initial conversation and behavior. However, these conversational and behavioral fluencies are often difficult for individuals with ID to attain in natural environments. Self-advocacy curriculums that include social skills content such as being assertive but not aggressive, communicating successfully in individual and group settings, negotiating, compromising, using persuasion, being a good listener, and navigating community services are important for young adults transitioning into the postsecondary environments (Wehmeyer & Schalock, 2001). These skills are also vital for a successful job interview. While the ability to self-advocate and "sell yourself' is vital in interview settings for any individual (Harrington, 1997; Hawkins, 2004; Kissane, 1997), training and preparation for those with ID may be especially important since the job interview highlights conversational and behavioral fluencies. Unfortunately, "the receipt of life skills instruction in school is not related to the receipt of life skills training/therapy after school by either individuals with mild ID or moderate/severe ID... educators who believe in the value of a life skills curriculum will need to be creative in its implementation and look towards transition plan and activities to provide students with the needed training" (Bouck, 2010, p. 1100).

Gonca and Karaman (2011) also posit that educators should be creative in reconsidering the aim of education and removing all imaginable constraints. …

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