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Oct. 21, 2022

MSU researchers partner to advance disability inclusion

Faculty at Michigan State University are partnering to advance disability inclusion and create an improved future of work.

A team of experts from MSU’s Broad College of Business, College of Engineering and College of Education have been awarded a three-year, $400,000 Strategic Partnership Grant from the MSU Foundation to develop solutions to employ people with disabilities. The team is also partnering with Lansing-based nonprofit Peckham Inc. and national nonprofit network SourceAmerica on the project.

People with disabilities are a significant fraction of the U.S. population but are employed at substantially lower rates than people without disabilities. In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the participation rate of people with disabilities in the workplace in 2021 was 21.3%, compared to 61.7% for those without disabilities.

“Inclusion of people with disabilities is critically important for individuals because it results in greater independence, quality of life and well-being,” Sriram Narayanan, Kesseler Family Endowed Faculty Fellow, professor of supply chain management and faculty lead for the grant, said. “However, a major challenge in employing individuals with disabilities is the wide variation in the type and severity of disabilities that traditional work environments struggle to accommodate.”

From a supply chain standpoint, this work will enable a better analysis of the key processes where individuals work. The project, titled “Empowering Individuals With Disability in Employment Settings: An Ability-First Human-Centric Approach,” aims to use robotics and augmented reality to approach human factors and abilities in the workplace in a holistic approach.

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By: Chelsea Stein