Project SASI (Students with Autism and Sensory Impairments) tested whether community engagement strategies can be used to increase recruitment of professionals working with students with sensory impairments in rural and remote communities to address the personnel shortages in these areas. The Project was theoretically based on the intersection of high-impact strategies for recruitment of teachers in rural regions and a model of engaged scholarship for creating reciprocal learning relationships between faculty and communities. The project incorporated community engagement strategies prior to the beginning of coursework and during coursework, as well as a sustainability plan for after the conclusion of the funding period.
Results suggest overall satisfaction with the Project and that professionals prepared with these connections to the community intended to remain in the region for many years. Further research is necessary to understand how individual components of engagement contribute to continued recruitment and retention of professionals working with students with sensory impairments, as well as how long-standing relationships between communities and faculty members contribute to teacher recruitment and retention.