Photo of Jessica Dashner with student measuring door width

Disability and Community Participation Research

Dr. Dashner mentors students interested in Disability and Community Participation Research. Her work further develops and tests subjective and objective measures of the quality of participation in communities; implements initiatives to improve community receptivity for people with disabilities; develops person-specific interventions to increase community participation by people with mobility, vision and hearing limitations; and studies characteristics and supports needed of people with disabilities who work.

General Description of Student Activities

Students may have the opportunity to participate in interviews, focus groups, survey administration by phone, in-person assessments, data entry, data analysis, literature reviews and writing journal articles. They may have the opportunity to orally present their work. Students may work with other members of the group to learn research skills. Students should be comfortable using a personal computer and willing to learn software necessary for data entry and analysis. Time commitment will be in line with the Program in Occupational Therapy expectations, but availability will be coordinated with the student’s class schedule. Some of the scholarly activities may be conducted at the Stephen A. Orthwein Center at Paraquad, which is located at 5200 Berthold Ave., or at various community sites. Personal transportation is helpful, but not required.

Examples of Projects

Students learn about ongoing research projects before selecting a topic that they develop for their doctoral projects. Projects currently conducted include:

  • Measuring Community Participation: Subjective measures of community participation are used to examine how and where people with mobility, vision and hearing limitations participate.
  • Measuring the Usability of Community Buildings: An objective community site assessment tool we developed (the CHEC) is being used to collect data in St. Louis and across the country. The assessments are then entered into Google maps ( to inform people with disabilities about the usability of buildings in the community.
  • Examining Factors That Influence People Aging with Long-Term Physical Disabilities: The focus is on individuals 45-65 years of age with diagnoses such as spinal cord injury, multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy, stroke, amputation, etc.

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