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Syracuse University’s Burton Blatt Institute gets $2.5 million for research project

By Eric Reinnardt


SYRACUSE, N.Y. — Syracuse University’s (SU) Burton Blatt Institute (BBI) will use a $2.5 million federal grant for a five-year project focusing on people with disabilities and their decision-making.

SU’s BBI, which has offices in Syracuse, Washington, D.C., and Atlanta, works to “advance the civic, economic, and social participation of people with disabilities,” according to its website.

The organization is named for Burton Blatt, former dean of SU’s School of Education and a “pioneering” disability-rights scholar, the university said.

The project is called, “Understanding and Increasing Supported Decision-Making’s Positive Impact on Community Living and Participation Outcomes,” SU said in a news release.

The Administration for Community Living’s (ACL) National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR) awarded the funding, which SU said is the “only award of its kind in the country.” ACL is part of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services’ (HHS).

BBI is collaborating with the University of Kansas, the Washington, D.C.–based Quality Trust for Individuals with Disabilities, and other national disability organizations on the project.

The work seeks to “significantly” add to evidence-based research approaches to supporting individual decision making that facilitates “self-determination and enhanced quality of life outcomes,” including community living and participation in daily life for persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities, according to the SU news release.

Historically, “low expectations” about their capacity to make decisions have impacted persons with such disabilities. As a result, they have been placed in “substituted decision-making frameworks,” such as guardianship, that often decrease self-determination and lead to “diminished life outcomes, including community integration,” BBI contends.

“This exciting project will provide new knowledge about the ways that individual decision-making positively impacts life outcomes,” Peter Blanck, university professor and BBI chairman, said in the SU release.

To do so, the project team will test interventions using a “randomized” control-trial approach, SU said.

It’ll examine whether training on the use of a supported decision-making approach improves life satisfaction and integration in community living and daily-life outcomes.

The training will target individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities; their families; and support networks, SU said.

Participants will conduct the project in cooperation with the District of Columbia Department of Disability Services, the school added.

The project’s findings are “designed to identify policy and practices across the life course (youth in transition, working age adults, aging population) to enhance self-determination and community living,” Meera Adya, BBI director of research, said.


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PHOTO CREDIT: Syracuse University website 



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