Date of Award


Document Type

Scholarly Project

Degree Name

Master of Occupational Therapy (MOT)


Occupational Therapy

First Advisor

Sclinda Janssen


Adolescent; Disabled Persons -- education; Rehabilitation, Vocational; Vocational Guidance


Problem: According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (2017), in 2016 the employment rate for persons with a disability was 17.9 percent compared to 65.3 percent for persons without a disability. The discrepancy between the employment rates can partially be contributed to a lack of high school readiness preparation as evidenced by Evert Cimera, Gonda, and Vaschak (2015) who found that the referral rates of transition-aged youth decreased from 62.3 percent in 2004 to 50.0 percent to 2013.

Purpose: The purpose of this scholarly project is to minimize the gap during the transition from high school to vocational opportunities by offering students the chance to build their pre-vocational skills and explore their career interests prior to leaving the high school setting.

Method: A literature review was conducted on existing vocational rehabilitation programs for individuals with disabilities and the role of occupational therapy in regards to vocation. Online data bases such as PubMed, CINAHL, EBSCOhost, Academic Search Premiere, PSYCHinfo, AJOT, Google Scholar, as well as governmental websites and textbooks were used to conduct the literature review.

Results: Researchers indicated that there are vocational training programs and policies available that can be utilized to prepare and transition students from the school setting into a workplace setting; however, there is limited research on vocational training programs within schools and how occupational therapists can bring their knowledge and skills to help guide students through the transition process. A pre-vocational skills course in the high school setting for students on Individualized Education Plans (IEPs) was created based on the Ecology of Human Performance Model (EHP) [Dunn, 2017]. The course also uses learning theories including pedagogy and andragogy to structure the course materials and interventions (Knowles, 1990, as cited in Bastable & Dart, 2011). The course is made up of group and individual sessions to help facilitate evaluation and learning in regards to vocation.

Conclusion: Occupational therapists are able to play a more supportive role in the high school setting, especially regarding pre-vocational skills training for students on IEPs. This course will be implemented and led by occupational therapists in collaboration with vocational rehabilitation counselors and special education personnel to educate and promote students’ participation in vocational exploration and activities. Through consideration of the person, context, task, and performance within the EHP model, occupational therapists will be able to foster occupational justice for all students.