About Us

The Need

Research shows a large gap between the employment rate of people with and without disabilities. This gap is even wider for people with developmental disabilities. K-12 students with developmental disabilities receive instructional support to help them achieve their educational goals. Yet, when these students leave school, this support is often no longer available, making the attainment of meaningful employment challenging. While job search content, applications, and tools abound, few incorporate the specific instructional techniques that are most effective for people with developmental disabilities.

Our Process

In 2012, Strategic Education Solutions, LLC, was awarded a grant from the Texas Council for Developmental Disabilities to create an online application to ease the path to employment for people with developmental disabilities. In partnership with Trinity Education Group and Social Motion, Inc., we assembled a team of technology developers, researchers, and educators to create the Virtual Job Coach, a research-based, research-validated online employment and job skills application. Inc.

Our Connection

As parents of children with special needs ourselves, we knew it was important to include input from fellow educational professionals, parent advocates, and self advocates who would benefit from the technology. We recruited a diverse advisory team of adults with developmental disabilities, educational professionals, and parents to guide us at every step in the process. We also kicked off the project with a comprehensive needs assessment, incorporating the feedback of over a hundred self-advocates, parents, and service providers into the product’s design.

The Results

We spent 5 years pilot-testing the Virtual Job Coach, refining it and adding functionality based on feedback. We also measured the difference it made for those who used it in a variety of settings. The feedback we received was overwhelmingly positive. Not only did learners gain new skills, but they also became more hopeful about the future and more confident that finding the right job for them was possible. We were also excited to hear back from several of our pilot testers who told us that they found a job after using the Virtual Job Coach.

With these promising results, our team is scaling up and making it our mission to bring the Virtual Job Coach to as many people as possible to ease the path of employment for more adults who have skills and talents to share and simply need extra help to get there.

Our Thanks

Financial support for the Online Virtual Job Coach is provided by the Texas Council for Developmental Disabilities through its Enabling Technology: Collaborating for the Future initiative, with federal funds* made available by the United States Department of Health and Human Services, Administration on Developmental Disabilities.

* $224,967, 75% DD funds; 27,617, 25% non-federal resources.