Supporting quality of life across the life span, through work/life balance, health and well-being.

YTI recognizes that access to healthcare and wellness of individuals with disabilities is essential to quality of life, as it contributes to improved functioning for finding and retaining jobs in a competitive labor market. Healthy living initiatives will continue to grow in importance with the aging of America’s workforce. Further, wellness-related activities such as those available through employer-sponsored wellness programs or leisure time pursuits, provide opportunities to explore interests, develop skills, and establish friendships with colleagues and peers around common interests. These outcomes can enhance social capital, contribute to greater job satisfaction and aid in coping with the potential work-related and life stressors associated with disability. Improved work-related functioning is also dependent on equitable access to necessary medical and preventative services, which are especially important for employed individuals with disabilities. YTI emphasizes the role of health and well-being as being one the core pillars in expanding capabilities and equal opportunities for engaging in work for persons with disabilities.

YTI, in collaboration with various state, regional, national and international partners, along with members of the disability community, conducts research related to topics such as work/life balance and disability and inclusive worksite wellness programming and understanding factors related to health disparities among people with disabilities. We also engage in evaluation of the physical and programmatic accessibility of recreation sites and wellness-related programs with an emphasis on how these resources can be more inclusive and expand the array of wellness options available to individuals with different types of disabilities. We extend our expertise by examining contemporary healthcare policy and regulatory environments on healthcare access, preventative health and healthcare outcomes for people with disabilities.

Since 2013, YTI faculty have educated more than 400 recreation and fitness professionals, architects, and policymakers about inclusive wellness. We also conducted a pilot study about the use of worksite wellness programs by employees with disabilities, an emerging issue given the recent EEOC rulings regarding these employer-sponsored offerings. Additionally, in a current study of work/life balance and disability, we have collected data about the experiences of more than 600 individuals with a wide range of disabilities about negotiating work, life, and disability management; this has informed the creation of a new model of work-life-disability management which will add to existing literature on this topic. Further, the study has provided data about workplace bullying and harassment experienced by individuals with disabilities, an issue that is of increasing interest to the EEOC. In addition, YTI faculty, through their collaboration with Weill Cornell Medical College, educated internal medicine residents on providing clinical care for people with disabilities and shared resources with their clinical faculty on impact of work on improved rehabilitation outcomes. Examining state and national administrative datasets faculty members continue to assess the contribution of health in employment of people with disabilities. YTI faculty have also studied the contexts of healthcare organizations in understanding the structuration and delivery of care for people with disabilities and chronic health conditions, including the contemporary models of Accountable Care Organizations.