Author ORCID Identifier

Date of Award

Spring 4-14-2022

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Public Health

First Advisor

Dr. Daniel Crimmins

Second Advisor

Dr. Erin Vinoski Thomas

Third Advisor

Dr. Shannon Self-Brown


Individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) face disparities in employment. Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) agencies in every U.S. state offer services intended to improve employment outcomes for people with disabilities. Yet, institutionalized supports such as VR services may inadvertently perpetuate social inequities as a result of biases in implementation and/or barriers to access due to an individual’s race, ethnicity, gender identity, sexual orientation, and disability. Additionally, factors associated with economic stability (socioeconomic factors) can also perpetuate inequities in interventions and institutional supports. The goal of this dissertation research is to understand the role of social and economic factors within state VR services for individuals with IDD. This dissertation used a cross-sectional secondary analysis of the RSA-911 dataset of applicants for VR services to 1) assess for social inequities in service provision and economic outcomes among VR service users; 2) assess for social and economic inequities between applicants who did and did not receive services; and 3) explore the relationship between factors associated with economic stability factors among applicants for VR services. Results indicated: 1) social inequities exist in both if applicants received VR services and what services they received from their VR agency; 2) interaction terms between severity of disability and demographic characteristics revealed differences in outcomes for demographic identities at different levels of severity of disability; 3) outcomes varied, based on amount of wage earned and level of education; and 4) a complex relationship exists between level of education, wage earned, and receipt of Social Security benefits should be considered in research and interventions that aim to improve economic stability in people with IDD. Considerations for future research and practice are presented for each main finding.


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