NAU receives $3.5 million to assist Native Americans with disabilities

Lee Gaseoma and Thomas Uno

NAU’s Institute for Human Development, part of the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences, has been awarded a five-year $3.5 million grant to establish a National American Indian Rehabilitation Training and Technical Assistance Center.

“The outcome of the project is to provide training and technical assistance to staff who work with Native Americans with disabilities, helping them to achieve gainful employment,” said Thomas Uno, associate director of the Institute for Human Development.

NAU will offer in-person and web-based training and technical assistance to 83 tribal programs funded through the American Indian Vocational Rehabilitation Services.

The United States Department of Education’s Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services selected NAU’s proposal for its innovative training and technical assistance delivery methods. “We will take our content, and with help from the e-Learning Center, we can create webinars and self-paced training modules,” Uno said.

In addition to 10 in-person regional trainings during the five-year grant period, NAU plans to create 70 webinars and 20 evidence-based practice guides.

Lee Gaseoma, the NAU project director, said it also is important to offer culturally appropriate training. “We have to look at the cultural aspects in terms of how vocational rehabilitation services are planned and delivered for Native American Indians with disabilities.” Many of the people needing services are geographically isolated, adding another challenge, Gaseoma said.

Since 1967, NAU’s Institute for Human Development has served Native Americans, including those with disabilities, and this new rehabilitation and assistance center will expand the institute’s resources.