This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

Promoting Self-Determination in People with Disabilities within Vocational Rehabilitation




Turnbull-Humphries, Jane Wallis

Type of Degree



Rehabilitation and Special Education


A growing body of evidence suggests that the development of self-determination in persons with disabilities has a positive impact on adult outcomes such as employment. The primary mission of rehabilitation services is to help consumers obtain and maintain employment; therefore, in order to investigate the current status of self-determination practices in this field, this study examined vocational rehabilitation (VR) counselors’ and job coaches’ expressed support and importance of self-determination. There has been little research on VR counselors’ and job coaches’ knowledge of self-determination and the practices they use to support self-determination in the consumers they serve. In order to expand the research in this area, a non-experimental survey design was conducted. The Self-Determination within Vocational Rehabilitation Survey (SDVRS), a modified version of a survey by Cho (2010), was used that is further described in the instrumentation section. Some of the items are similar to the 2010 study; however, additional questions were added and modified for the population of VR counselors and job coaches, rather than special education or general education teachers. Six hundred VR counselors and 156 job coaches were emailed a link to the SDVRS. Participants of this study included 163 VR counselors and 40 job coaches from the Alabama, Georgia, and Mississippi Department of Rehabilitation Services. There were a total of 63 participants from Alabama, 104 participants from Georgia, and 36 participants from Mississippi. Results suggest that there were no significant differences among VR counselors’ and job coaches’ ratings of the importance or time devoted to self-determination. Results also suggest that there were no significant differences in the ratings of the importance and time rehabilitation professionals who work with consumers of transition age and non-transition age allocate to supporting self-determination. Although moderate, there was a significant relationship between the combined ratings of time and importance of self-determination, r = .589, p < .001. This result suggests that participants who value self-determination also devote time in supporting it with the consumers they serve. This research, along with other research in the area of self-determination, will help further its development within the field of VR.