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 measures the quality of participation in communities; implements initiatives to improve community receptivity for people with disabilities; develops interventions to improve the usability of environments to enhance community participation of people with mobility, vision and hearing limitations. In addition, Dr. Dashner mentors students to provide outpatient occupational therapy (OT) services to adults who are uninsured or underinsured in the St. Louis Community. The Washington University School of Medicine (WUSM) Interprofessional (IP) Student Pro Bono Clinic includes students and faculty from medicine, physical therapy and occupational therapy.

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 if interested. Students will present their work at OT Scholarship Day. Time commitment will be in line with the Program in Occupational Therapy expectations, but availability will be coordinated with the student’s class schedule. Students involved in the WUSM IP Student Pro Bono Clinic will spend additional hours meeting with the interprofessional team (via Zoom Wednesday mornings), will attend a weekly lab meeting and will compete clinic hours on Friday afternoons. Students must complete an application process to express interest in being one of the OT student leads in the clinic. New students are selected with input from a team of current interprofessional students who review applications and interview candidates. Personal transportation is helpful (depending on the project), 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 the Usability of Community Buildings: An objective community site assessment tool we developed (the Community Health Environment Checklist–Mobility) 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.
  • Assessing Outcomes of the WUSM IP Student Pro Bono Clinic: Students will survey clients referred to the clinic to determine their level of satisfaction and overall evaluation of the clinical services provided. Individuals who were not able to attend their appointment will also be surveyed to identify and potential barriers to accessing the clinic. Students may also engage in surveys/interviews of former and current clinic students to determine the impact of working in the clinic on their fieldwork readiness and/or knowledge of OT.

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We are excited that you are considering applying to the Program in Occupational Therapy at Washington University. Please join us for a Zoom Information Session for either our entry-level MSOT or OTD degrees or our online Post-Professional OTD. Current faculty members will discuss the degree program and answer any question you may have. We are offering these sessions on the following days and times. The content is the same for each one, so you only need to sign up for one.

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