DUP TIG Week: Inclusive Evaluation Design – Flexibility in Use by June Gothberg and Caitlyn Bukaty

Welcome to Day 2 of Inclusive Evaluation Design hosted by the Disabilities and Underrepresented Populations TIG. We are June Gothberg and Caitlyn Bukaty, the chairs of the TIG. During the last three years at AEA we have hosted annual Think Tanks to gather insights on lessons learned, tips, and resources for designing inclusive evaluations. This week of AEA365 is dedicated to sharing the insights gathered from the DUP TIG Think Tanks. 

Today we are highlighting Principle 2 of Universal Design: Flexibility in Use. What do you think of when you consider the concept of ‘being flexible’? Do you think of a gymnast showcasing their skills in a floor routine? Maybe rescheduling a meeting based on a colleague’s changing availability?  When conducting evaluation, we’re encouraging you to design evaluations that plan for flexibility in the

  • mode of delivery
  • timeframe and scheduling
  • language, phrasing, and question types

to allow more stakeholders the chance to participate in evaluation in ways that align with their preferences, needs, and abilities.

Hot Tips

Want to know if your evaluation plan promotes Flexibility in Use? Does it accommodate a wide range of individual preferences and abilities? Examples include

  • providing choice in methods of use
  • accommodating right or left-handed access and use
  • facilitating the user’s accuracy and precision
  • providing adaptability to the user’s pace

Remember, there is strength in flexibility. When using energy and resources to plan your evaluation keep flexibility in mind to avoid elements too rigid to be easily accessed by stakeholders with a wide range of abilities. The best approach to inclusive design is to make different designs available for different groups of people to avoid marginalizing anyone (Vinney, 2021).

This photo depicts a universally designed (UD) architecture feature for users to travel from one story to the next. Based on need or preference a visitor can use the stairs (with or without a handrail), the ramp, or a combination of these features. Even without a disability this feature provides access for someone pushing a stroller or rolling a shopping tote.

“Ramp Stairs” by Bill Smith, licensed under CC 4.0

Lessons Learned

  • Seek out ideas. Look for suggestions from stakeholders, colleagues in the field, and others familiar with the needs of your stakeholder group.
  • Not sure what your stakeholders need? Ask for feedback and suggestions.
  • Flexibility can mean taking time to learn more and revise. Be aware this may mean making a revision based on what you find or observe during implementation.
  • Learn from your experiences! As you learn about and implement options for flexibility.
Rad Resource

Universal Design for Evaluation Checklist (5th Ed) Principle 2 Flexibility in Usethis research-based checklist was developed specifically for evaluators by the DUP TIG at AEA to assist evaluators in designing inclusive evaluations.


The American Evaluation Association is hosting the Disabilities & Underrepresented Populations TIG (DUP) Week. The contributions all week come from DUP 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. The views and opinions expressed on the AEA365 blog are solely those of the original authors and other contributors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of the American Evaluation Association, and/or any/all contributors to this site.

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