Kessler Foundation Grants $485,000 to Virtual Reality Job Interview Training at University of Michigan
EAST HANOVER, N.J. January 18, 2017—Kessler Foundation has awarded a two-year, $485,000 Signature Employment Grant to the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, to launch the Virtual Reality Job Interview Training program—an initiative to increase employment for high school students with disabilities. The amount is part of $2.5 million in grants awarded by Kessler Foundation last year to organizations across the U.S. to support initiatives that create and expand job training and employment opportunities for people with disabilities.
The program uses speech recognition software to simulate job interviews between students and virtual interviewers allowing trainees to make errors in a safe environment. It integrates well-validated behavioral learning principles, including hierarchical learning, repetition, and systematic desensitization. The program allows for highly personalized role-play, with precise feedback and coaching that may be repeated as often as desired without fear or embarrassment.
“Kessler Foundation's Signature Employment Grants are awarded nationally to fund new pilot initiatives, demonstration projects, or social ventures that generate innovative ideas to solve the high unemployment and underemployment of individuals with disabilities,” said Elaine E. Katz, MS, CCC-SLP, senior vice president of grants and communications at Kessler Foundation. “Job interviewing is a particularly challenging barrier to employment for students with disabilities. This virtual reality training program is designed to engage students and better prepare them to gain employment upon graduation.”
The University of Michigan is partnering with the Illinois Department of Human Services’ Division of Rehabilitation Service to collect and analyze feedback from students and teachers, and to evaluate the implementation and cost effectiveness of the virtual reality training program. The goal is to help the state scale-up a financially self-sustaining, evidence-based intervention that could be replicated in high schools across Illinois.
Kessler Foundation is accepting applications now for its 2017 grant programs. To learn more and to apply, please visit our website. Signature Employment Grant applications must be submitted by March 17th, and Community Employment Grant applications are due by February 27th.
About Kessler Foundation
Kessler Foundation, a major nonprofit organization in the field of disability, is a global leader in rehabilitation research that seeks to improve cognition, mobility and long-term outcomes, including employment, for people with neurological disabilities caused by diseases and injuries of the brain and spinal cord. Kessler Foundation leads the nation in funding innovative programs that expand opportunities for employment for people with disabilities.
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