Knowledge Translation: Then & Now
I spent more than 20 years in publishing before I joined the Think College team. I targeted researchers and practitioners in the special education field who were doing exceptional work and asked them to write books. I said, “people need to know about the work you’re doing, let me help you create a resource that will get these best practices in the hands of those who need it.” And I would give some advice: Write for your intended audience. Grab their attention. Use direct language, avoid too much jargon. Create practical handouts, tips, and use illustrations to make your point.
Who knew I was preparing then for the job I have now? And who knew then that I was really doing knowledge translation? Knowledge translation (KT) is taking evidence-based research and presenting it in ways that are easier for non-researchers to understand. The goal is to create practices and systems based on that research that improve the lives of people with disabilities. (You can learn a little more about KT at the National Center on Knowledge Translation for Disability & Rehabilitation Research.)
The resources we create and disseminate, webinars we present, pages we add to our website, and news we share on our social media channels… much of it is informed by the data we collect from TPSIDs and other inclusive college programs, as well as what we gather from interactions we have program staff, educators, and families. And we do this work so that parents, teachers, neighbors, college staff and faculty, employers, and anyone else know better how to support people with intellectual disability to live richer lives.
To think I did a lot of this work myself when I first started with Think College…. Thank goodness we are growing our KT team! It’s already been a year since Sheila Johnson joined the team. Last week, we welcomed Arin Rook. And next week, Sara Pound will join the knowledge translation and dissemination team. Each of us bring specific skills to the job and are passionate about specific aspects of knowledge translation and dissemination.
It takes creativity and some insight into the fields of higher education and disability and employment. It’s important to be familiar with trends in marketing, to know what people respond to, how to drive them to your resources, and how to measure and use various analytics. Exceptional communication skills are a must, as well as the ability to navigate numerous platforms and applications to manage the workflow and products. This team has all of these things.
I’m excited for what we’ll do in the years to come. Here’s to making it easier for people to learn about best practices in transition, inclusive postsecondary education, and employment for people with intellectual disability. Make sure to sign up for our newsletter and follow us on social media to stay informed!
About the post author: Rebecca Lazo is Knowledge Translation Manager for Think College National Coordinating Center. Rebecca manages all of the Think College publications, outreach, social media, monthly newsletter, webinars, and more. She loves being a part of such a dedicated and talented team of people!