Dr. Courtney Jarrett, Associate Director of Disability Services, Ball State University
June 11, 2018
Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana, has a proud and long-standing tradition of being a leader in educating students with disabilities. Disability Services (DS) facilitates inventive programs that have strengthened Ball State’s national reputation in serving students with disabilities. DS also conducts research annually that shows that our students with disabilities are retained and graduate at the same rate as their peers without disabilities.
Though Ball State is effective in graduating students with disabilities, a 2011 report indicated that nationally as high as 50% of college graduates with physical disabilities are unemployed. To address this serious issue, Disability Services has partnered with Eskenazi Health in Indianapolis, Indiana, to create internships for students with physical disabilities. The Initiative for Empowerment and Economic Independence (IEEI) was created from this partnership. IEEI starts students with physical disabilities down the path to gainful, equitable employment. The internships build skills, confident behaviors, and paid employment history for their resumes.
IEEI students participate in accessible job experiences where they build skills in their professional fields. They also gain practical work experience and self-confidence that they can use in the future. The goal is to match the interns with departments that align with their academic pursuits and career interests.
Another primary goal of the program is to impact attitudes and culture in the workplace. The IEEI program strives to break through misconceptions that staff may have about working alongside persons with disabilities. IEEI recognizes the importance of fostering an inclusive environment for everyone.
IEEI has seen success with the number of interns growing each year. The program has branched out to include students from other Indiana universities in the program. Students in this year’s cohort begin their internships in June and are looking forward to their new work experiences.
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