The researcher was invited by the CSIR (formerly known as the Council for Industrial and Scientific Research in South Africa) to investigate the work opportunities for persons with disabilities (PWD) in a rural area in the Eastern Cape in which they were planning to implement their Integrated Rural Development Project (IRDP). The community development committee had requested assistance with the plight of the unemployed PWD in their community. The aim of the study was to investigate work opportunities for PWD in rural developing communities. The study allowed the researcher to also explore possible means to maximise current services to reach into areas that are underserved in terms of professional rehabilitation services. A participatory research approach was used for the study in which the research team consisted of the author, members from the community development committee including the sister in charge of the community clinic and three research assistants from the community. In a two-phase disability survey in the 475 household of the area, adults with disabilities in the working age group were identified and their abilities assessed. Five development projects from nearby communities, similar to projects planned by the community were analysed. A scale had been developed that would allow a direct comparison between the abilities of the PWD and the work abilities required for the projects. The data were plotted on a spiral graphic, the Work Abilities Web (WAW), to illustrate compatibility and components for which adaptations might be needed. Taking the PWDs' level of motivation and aspirations into account job matches were made. The intellectual process of making such matches was investigated and described. Because of a lower disability prevalence found in the area than expected from international projections the data were presented as 12 case studies. In the feedback to the community three scenarios were provided for the employment of PWD in their midst for implementation by the community. A committee of PWD was established, which would have representation on the development committee to drive the process and to ensure that disability issues would be considered in all future community planning. The study contributes the following innovations to the knowledge base of health and social sciences theory, in terms of disability and development issues: <ul> <li>A refinement of a participatory research model, the Mutual Benefit Research model (MBR), for research projects with communities. </li> <li>A functional assessment format, developed for possible use by community health workers. </li> <li>The recording and comparison method used for the WAW.</li> <li>An analysis of the job match process used by occupational therapists in vocational rehabilitation. <br></li> </ul> In conclusion the study and the results were critically evaluated and recommendations made for the integration of PWD into the workplace in rural communities, as well as for further investigation into the methods proposed for vocational rehabilitation in underserved areas.
Thesis (PhD (Occupational Therapy))--University of Pretoria, 2005.