The purpose of this project is therefore to conduct the foundational research necessary to design and build a successful community of practice related to the ADA and job accommodations. Specifically, the research will focus on the inquiring, designing, and prototyping phases of community building. A mixed methods approach will be used including focus groups, Delphi study, and quantitative survey research methodologies to conduct the research study. The results will: (a) identify the audience, purpose, goals, and vision for the community; (b) specify the activities, technologies, group processes, and roles that will support the community’s goals; and (c) build and test features of the community of practice in a targeted social media platform (e.g., Facebook or LinkedIn) with a select group of key stakeholders to gain commitment, test assumptions, refine the strategy, and begin building the community. Once an active community is built, data mining and text mining techniques will be used to identify major and recurring themes and issues that are frequently discussed by community members, and findings of the ongoing data mining activities can be used to plan activities and informational products for the community including discussion/debate, webinars, regular lectures, videos, Q&A columns, guest speakers, etc. Analyzing the activities of the community will also generate new knowledge about employer behaviors and innovative disability management practices in the workplace.
During the first six months of the project, the research team has completed a preliminary draft of the literature review on communities of practice. We have designed research protocols for all stages of the research. We submitted the project for IRB approval and received preliminary approval. We are just awaiting our final IRB approval letter from the committee.