AEA365 | A Tip-a-Day by and for Evaluators

TAG | Deaf

I am David J. Bernstein, and I am a Senior Study Director with Westat, an employee-owned research and evaluation company in Rockville, Maryland. I was an inaugural member of AEA, and was the founder and first Chair of the Government Evaluation Topical Interest Group.

Westat was hired by the U.S. Department of Education’s Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA) to conduct an evaluation of the Helen Keller National Center for Deaf-Blind Youths and Adults (HKNC). HKNC is a national rehabilitation program serving youth and adults who are deaf-blind founded by an Act of Congress in 1967, and operates under a grant from RSA, which is HKNC’s largest funding source.

The Westat evaluation was the first evaluation of HKNC in over 20 years, although HKNC submits performance measures and annual reports to RSA. RSA wanted to make sure that the evaluation included interviews with Deaf-Blind individuals who had taken vocational rehabilitation and independent living courses on the HKNC campus in Sands Point, New York. After meeting with HKNC management and teaching staff, it became clear that communication issues would be a challenge given the myriad of ways that Deaf-Blind individuals communicate. Westat and RSA agreed that in-person interviews with Deaf-Blind individuals would help keep the interviews simple, intuitive, and make sure that this critical stakeholder group was comfortable and willing to participate.

Hot Tips:

  • Make use of gatekeepers and experts-in-residence. Principle Three encourages simple and intuitive design of materials to address users’ level of experience and language skills. For the HKNC Evaluation, interview guides went through multiple reviews, including review by experts in Deaf-Blind communication not associated with HKNC. Ultimately, it was HKNC staff that provided a critical final review to simplify the instruments since HKNC was familiar with the wide variety of communication skills of their former students.
  • Plan ahead in regards to location and communication. Principle Seven calls for appropriate space to make anyone involved in data collection comfortable, including transportation accessibility and provision of interpreters, if needed. For the HKNC evaluation, interview participants were randomly selected who were within a reasonable distance of locations near HKNC regional offices. Westat worked with HKNC partners and HKNC regional representatives with whom interviewees were familiar. In the Los Angeles area, we brought the interviews to the interviewees, selecting locations that were as close as possible to where former HKNC students lived. Most importantly, Westat worked with HKNC to identify the Deaf-Blind individuals’ communication abilities and preferences, and had two interpreters on site for interviews. In one case we used a participant’s iPad with large print enabled to communicate interview questions.

Resource:

The American Evaluation Association is celebrating the Disabilities and Other Vulnerable Populations TIG (DOVP) Week. The contributions all week come from DOVP members. Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to aea365@eval.org. aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluator.

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Hello, I am Jennifer Coyle, Research Associate at Western Michigan University and Technical Assistance Coordinator for the National Secondary Technical Assistance Center. Due to the number of emails and comments on yesterday’s post, this is a follow up to Creating Presentations Potent for All with tips specific to presenting to people who may have hearing loss.  Many people with hearing impairments do not like to identify themselves, therefore it is difficult to approximate the number. Knowing this increases the importance of creating presentations that are hearing impaired friendly.

Lesson Learned:

  • Your audience is likely to include those with hearing loss.
    • In 2011, John Hopkins reported 20% of the US population aged 12 years and older has hearing difficulties severe enough to impact communication.
    • The Department of Veterans Affairs says about 60% of deployed military service men and women have noise induced hearing loss (NIHL), tinnitus (ringing in the ear), and other hearing injuries.
    • Millions wear hearing aids.

Tips:

  • Emphasize hear-ability: Look at your audience while speaking and speak loudly.
    • Don’t assume that just because you can’t see any hearing aids no one in your audience is hard of hearing. In fact, many people who have aging-related hearing loss may not be fully aware of their hearing loss. It’s your job as presenter to make sure everyone hears the presentation and any questions that are asked.
    • Close the doors to eliminate exterior noises.
  • Use local resources.
    • See the ADA coordinator or the event location’s facilities management to ask about assistive hearing devices. Some facilities have headphones, t-coil capabilities that broadcast directly into some hearing aids through the PA system, and other assistive hearing devices.
  • Emphasize understandability: Remain visible.
    • Many with hearing loss read lips or gain information from non-verbal cues.
    • As a presenter, keep in well-lit areas.
    • Audience members who are intent on watching you may be reading your lips.
    • Do not turn your back to the audience. If you need to read your slides, read from a laptop or notes in front of you with lips visible to the audience.
  • Emphasize understandability: Articulate and enunciate clearly.
    • Speak clearly into the microphone.
    • Repeat questions asked from the audience for all to hear.
  • Emphasize readability: Use words on presentation screens.
    • Use closed captioning when possible.
    • Use words with images.
    • Use visual cues to gain attention (i.e. blinking screen)
  • Handouts may be critical especially for those with hidden disabilities.
    • Distribute handouts before you present this especially assists those have hearing loss.

Resources:

Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to aea365@eval.org. aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

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I am Lori Peterson an Assistant Professor at the University of Northern Colorado. Recently, I worked on a project conducting a series of focus groups with high school students with disabilities. I wanted to share tips and lessons learned from this experience.

Hot Tips:

  • Feed them and they will come! High school students love food. We conducted the focus groups near lunch time and gave each group free pizza. We had almost 100% attendance.
  • Know the school calendar. We had an issue conducting focus groups on senior skip day!
  • Conduct focus groups on location. If you can work with the school and conduct focus groups on site, this eliminates the need for transportation. Students with disabilities may not drive, so this can increase the likelihood of participation.
  • Conduct focus groups during school hours. This offers the additional perk that some students enjoy ‘getting out of class’. There is a drawback though; you are limited to one class period. For many high schools this means you will only have 45-50 minutes to conduct the focus group.
  • Carefully consider how you group participants. Different group arrangements may inhibit student participation. Developmentally and cognitively, some participants may not be ready to open up and share information. The addition of a disability may confound disclosure of sensitive information. If you are collecting data from students with disabilities, be prepared to address the student’s comfort level related to their disability and skills.
  • Provide an Advanced Organizer. Many students with disabilities thrive in a structured setting and benefit from a schedule of events. Advanced Organizers help prepare participants for what is to come. Give options for written or visual format. Be careful not to deviate from the schedule or you may increase anxiety levels.

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Lessons Learned:

  • Provide multiple modes of data collection. Our most successful focus group for data collection allowed the students to fill out a short survey which they kept with them. This helped them communicate more effectively during the focus group.
  • Plan ahead for unanticipated needs. We had an unexpected Deaf participant who needed an interpreter, a guest to our focus group. Be ready to let the ‘guest’ know ‘the rules’ of your data collection. A handout listing the expectations will be helpful, e.g. please only interpret exact words, do not answer for the participant even if you disagree, do not interrupt the flow of conversation.
  • Provide multiple ways to state a question. A variety of skills and abilities may be represented. On several occasions in our focus groups, the moderator needed to provide alternate definitions and descriptions. Preparing for these will enhance consistency across groups.

Rad Resources:

Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to aea365@eval.org. aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

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