Document Type



Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor's Name

Dr. Valentina Bruk-Lee

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee chair

Second Advisor's Name

Dr. Chockalingam Viswesvaran

Second Advisor's Committee Title

Committee member

Third Advisor's Name

Dr. Asia Eaton

Third Advisor's Committee Title

Committee member

Fourth Advisor's Name

Dr. Shanna Burke

Fourth Advisor's Committee Title

Committee member


disability, employment, barriers, supervisor, training, framework

Date of Defense



Individuals with developmental disabilities (DD) represent a significantly underutilized talent pool and often miss out on the many benefits of meaningful work. To improve the employment outlook for this population, there is an urgent need for research that investigates ways to eradicate existing barriers limiting opportunities for full-time employment. To address gaps in both research and practice, the overarching purpose of the present collected papers dissertation was to provide evidence-based research that informs the development of supportive workplace practices to improve employment outcomes specifically for people with DD.

Study One involved the identification of skill and knowledge gaps of supervisors of employees with DD, based on the perspectives of four stakeholder groups representing both supported employment and hiring organizations. Each perspective provided valuable insight into the training needs of supervisors of employees with DD and demonstrated the need for training across different supervisor duties. Building off findings from Study One, Part One of Study Two involved a qualitative investigation of the current training practices for supervisors of employees with DD. Four themes were generated, demonstrating that the majority of trainings are outsourced, and that job coaches are often responsible for guiding supervisors in how to communicate with employees with DD, apply job accommodations, and teach routine tasks. Collectively, findings from Study One and Part One of Study Two confirmed the need for organizations to develop internal trainings to thoroughly prepare supervisors for managing and supporting employees with DD.

To guide organizations in developing holistic training programs, Part Two of Study Two proposed an evidence-based leadership training framework to increase supervisor capacity to manage and support employees with DD. The framework consists of six training components that will empower supervisors to build a foundation for healthy work, create an inclusive team climate, manage workplace stress, promote transfer of training, facilitate employee performance, and increase opportunities for growth. Ultimately, the present collected papers dissertation makes a timely and important contribution to disability-employment research and practice by helping organizations create the infrastructure needed to promote long-term, meaningful employment outcomes for people with DD.







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