Suggestions how to ask people with IDD about satisfaction with services and supports

Susan Copeland, PhD
Department of Educational Specialties, University of New Mexico

It is important to ask people with disabilities what they like and don't like about the services they receive. This information can be used to make their services better. It is hard, though, for some people with disabilities to talk about what they like and don't like.

What did you do in your research?
We read and analyzed many articles (29) about how to do a better job asking people about their services. We looked for things that researchers used to help people better understand and answer questions about their services. We also looked at whom the researchers asked to participate in their studies to see if people with severe disabilities were included.

What did you find out?
We found out that using pictures and other visuals, like graphs, helped people understand questions and answer them. It was also important to ask people if they wanted someone they knew to help them answer questions. Another important thing was to explain to people why they were being asked to talk about their services. Some people liked having other people with disabilities ask them about what they thought about their services. Finally, it was important to let people know before asking them questions that they wouldn't lose any services, even if they talked about things they didn't like about their services.

What are the take-home messages?
We need to explain to people with disabilities why agencies ask them about their services and tell them how that information will be used. People need a choice of who asks them the questions and who they have there to help them answer the questions. People also need to have the results of the satisfaction survey explained to them and given support to learn how to use that information to make services better.

To learn more about these findings contact Susan Copeland.

Full Journal Article
Copeland, S. R., Luckasson, R., & Shauger, R. (2014). Eliciting perceptions of satisfaction with services and supports from persons with intellectual disability and developmental disabilities: a review of the literature. Journal of Intellectual Disability Research, 58(12), 1141–1155.