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DOVP Week: Amelia Maynard on Recruitment and Consent

Hi, I’m Amelia Maynard, Ph.D., District Analyst for the Anoka-Hennepin School District in Minnesota and an independent evaluator with Maynard Evaluations. I have worked to conduct inclusive evaluations with programs that target both individuals with disabilities and the general public.

Individuals with disabilities are often excluded from evaluations because we are uncertain of how to be inclusive or aren’t aware of these individuals’ presence in the program. As this population, including individuals with cognitive disabilities such as Autism and dementia, continues to grow, the evaluation community needs to ensure these individuals’ views aren’t ignored. Including individuals of all abilities in evaluations helps increase equity and validity by ensuring more stakeholder voices are included. To increase participation of individuals with disabilities in evaluations, the process needs to be accessible from the beginning. By creating accessible recruitment and consent processes, we can ensure that individuals who want to be heard have the opportunity to participate.

Hot Tips:

  1. Know your stakeholders – Consider if individuals with disabilities are a stakeholder group in your evaluation. Work with program staff to determine if and how you can include these individuals in the evaluation process. Staff may have ideas of how to reach out to these stakeholders, such as placing notices in accessible areas or communicating with care-takers.
  2. Use more examples and visuals – To increase the participation of individuals with disabilities, be adaptive and creative in how you introduce your evaluation and obtain consent. For many individuals, it is helpful if evaluators use more visual modes of communication. For example, evaluators can show videos that describe and demonstrate the evaluation process, use pictures in pamphlets or on the consent forms, and use large fonts and easy-to-read, non-technical language. These sorts of accommodations can benefit individuals with a wide range of disabilities, from those with low vision to those with learning or cognitive disabilities.

Lesson Learned:

Many of the accommodations evaluators can make to be inclusive of individuals with disabilities benefit everyone. Data collection processes and consent forms can be confusing for those who are unfamiliar with such work or for those who are not native English speakers. Many of us appreciate clear language and visuals when dealing with complex topics!

Rad Resource:

To help create accommodations that benefit everyone, use the principles of Universal Design. Check out the Universal Design for Evaluation Checklist, developed by Jennifer Sullivan-Sulewski and June Gothberg.

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 evaluators.

1 thought on “DOVP Week: Amelia Maynard on Recruitment and Consent”

  1. Hey Amelia,

    A few weeks ago I commented on one of my classmates evaluation webpages and asked a thoughtful question on how they would approach an evaluation of the Special Olympics Program, if their survey involved questions that were directed at special needs participants? In searching through your article Amelia Maynard On Recruitment and Consent, I found my answer.

    As you stated, often program evaluations do tend to exclude individuals with disabilities for a number of reasons. This affected me greatly, as I am currently a special education teacher in Montreal, Quebec and am constantly working with my students to help them understand that their disability should not be seen as a detriment, but simply an obstacle that can be overcome. Therefore, in my mind, a program evaluation must view the special needs population as an obstacle that can be overcome as well.

    By utilizing some of your suggestions such as large fonts and easy-to-read, non-technical language, evaluations can most certainly come to multiple, thoughtful conclusions about how the stakeholder group feels about the program being evaluated. That being said, what are your thoughts on the lack of special education courses made available to individuals studying education today? How is it that so many teachers that deal with students ranging from multiple cognitive abilities are so ill prepared in handling teaching the special education community?

    I look forward to reading your thoughts,


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