UNT WISE Mission: To improve the quality of life for people with disabilities by researching innovative best practices, training professionals in effective and ethical service, and directly supporting the disability community.
Located at the University of North Texas in Denton, Texas, UNTWISE is the premier training and consultancy group for programs seeking to enhance employment outcomes for individuals with disabilities. UNTWISE conducts training, hosts conferences, and provides technical assistance to community rehabilitation programs (CRP) and organizations serving individuals with disabilities. UNTWISE provides over 100 training events, serving more than 2,300 individuals, annually.
UNTWISE holds the Association of Community Rehabilitation Educators approval for its Supported Employment Basic Certificate courses. Its online certificate program was hailed as "model for online training" by ACRE panel reviewers. ACRE approved training is required by many states as a prerequisite for employment services providers.
UNTWISE partners with universities, vocational rehabilitation agencies and other stakeholders to develop new training and service programs based on the needs of specific communities. Some recent collaborations include:
- In an effort to increase the quality of employment services provided by Employment Services Providers in Texas, the Texas Workforce Solutions-Vocational Rehabilitation Services legacy agency partnered with UNTWISE in 2010 to develop and maintain a credential process. The credential requirement applies to all employment services providers such as Job Skills Trainers, Job Placement Specialists, Supported Employment Specialists and CRP Directors. UNTWISE developed the credentialing process, including the training and testing. UNTWISE manages the maintenance of the credential. Over 2,000 individuals hold one or more employment services credentials.
- In 2016, UNTWISE introduced a new credential for Vocational Adjustment Training (VAT). This credential is designed to build the skills and knowledge for credentialed Job Placement Specialists to effectively assist a person with a disability to learn skills needed to become work and job ready. The course includes the instruction on universal design for learning and accommodation as well as eight VAT content areas related to vocational exploration, soft skills, disclosure, financial education, and public transportation training.
- UNTWISE introduced the Autism Endorsement in the Spring of 2016. This endorsement provides credentialed Supported Employment Specialists tools to support individuals with autism. The endorsement also includes training on the Environmental Work Assessment, which assist persons with autism to identify a work environment consistent with their unique support needs.
- Live and Learn program designed for transitioning youth with disabilities to explore career pathways, envision a job they liked in their future, and practice independent living skills. Not only does the program provide a platform for participants to explore career pathways and visit workers doing these jobs, but also serves as a venue for UNT's Rehabilitation Studies undergraduates and Rehabilitation Counseling graduate students to put into practice what they have learned. To date, the Live and Learn Program has hosted 100 participants.
- College WISE summer program is designed for transitioning youth with disabilities to explore higher education opportunities, expectations of college life, and practice independent living skills. This program also provides an opportunity for UNT's Rehabilitation Studies undergraduates and Rehabilitation Counseling graduate students to put into practice what they have learned. In 2017, College WISE hosted 25 participants.