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University of Iowa News Release


Nov. 13, 2009

UI grant will train graduate students in top-ranked rehabilitation program

Many Iowans with disabilities would like to contribute to the workforce, but some face challenges in pursuing employment.

Thanks to a $750,000 U.S. Department of Education grant received by professors in the University of Iowa's College of Education, many of those individuals will be able to benefit from trained professionals who can help them make the transition.

The grant, which will provide $150,000 per year over five years, will support fellowships for more than 20 graduate students to pursue doctorates in the UI COE Rehabilitation Counselor Education Doctoral Program, which is consistently ranked by U.S.News & World Report as one of the top such graduate programs in the nation.

Six UI students will receive fellowship support in years one through three, and five students will receive support in years four and five. In each of the five years, the grant also supports a graduate assistant. The grant is also designed to proactively recruit students from traditionally underrepresented populations including people with disabilities, older students, women and racial and ethnic minorities. There are currently 20 UI students in the rehabilitation counselor education doctoral program.

Dennis R. Maki, professor and chair of the UI Department of Counseling, Rehabilitation and Student Development, is one of the principal investigators of the grant, which funds the project "Long-term Training: The University of Iowa Rehabilitation Counselor Education Doctoral Program." Jodi Saunders, UI associate professor, is the co-principal investigator.

"This is a much needed program that will positively impact the vocational rehabilitation system throughout the state and region by comprehensively training both new graduate students and rehabilitation counselors currently employed in the field to effectively serve individuals with disabilities," Maki said.

He added that the grant, which comes from the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services, is coming at an especially critical time since funding for graduate students is decreasing.

"Finding the right people for the field is an ongoing issue, especially to work in state agencies," Maki said. "Due to retirements and a variety of factors, there are fewer professors to teach the master's level students so it's a ripple effect."

UI College of Education Dean Sandra Damico said this grant is important because of the increasing number of individuals in the workforce with disabilities who wish to engage in meaningful employment but may face barriers.

"This project fosters important collaborative partnerships with the university, state, regional and national scholars and educators," Damico said. "Projects such as this one allow the college to expand its educational impact statewide and also provide a forum for developing, testing and refining new methods of teaching and preparing students for their future careers."

Maki said that the UI College of Education has many strengths and resources to support this project such as the Iowa Center for Assistive Technology and Education Resources, or I-CATER, which is housed in the College of Education.

The center provides hands-on training for faculty, staff and students on the use of assistive technology. Students with visual, cognitive and/or orthopedic disabilities have access to Braille and embossers, screen readers, Optical Character Recognition (OCR) and text readers, voice recognition software, screen enlargers, writing tools and other adaptive devices.

For more information on the UI Rehabilitation Counselor Education Doctoral program, visit or call Maki at 319-335-5284.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500

MEDIA CONTACTS: Dennis R. Maki, College of Education, 319-335-5284,; Lois J. Gray, University News Services, 319-384-0077,