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Evaluating ADA Training

Evaluating the Effectiveness of Training on the Americans with Disabilities Act on Implementation in the Workplace and Community in the United States

 

Diane L. Smith, Ph.D., OTR/L, FAOTA, Shannan Borgard, MOTS, Courtney Braselton, MOTS,

Amanda Hoffman, MOTS, Jessica Reinkemeyer, MOTS

University of Missouri

Department of Occupational Therapy

406 Lewis Hall

Columbia, MO  65211

Email:  smithdiane@health.missouri.edu

Telephone: 573-882-8403

Fax:  573-884-2610

 

James DeJong, Lisa Hamburg

University of Missouri

Great Plains ADA Center

100 Corporate Lake Drive

Columbia, MO  65203

Email:  adacenter@missouri.edu

Telephone:  572-882-3600

Fax:  573-884-4925

 

Key words:  disability policy, disability training, self-advocacy

Evaluating the Effectiveness of Training on the Americans with Disabilities Act on Implementation in the Workplace and Community in the United States

Abstract

Purpose: To determine if and how the attendees of the National ADA Symposium implemented the information they learned in their workplace or community.

Methods: Descriptive analysis examined results from the online survey. Responses from the follow-up interview were analyzed using qualitative methods to determine themes.

Results: The majority of respondents from the online survey and follow-up interview reported using the information in their work and community including training, networking, and obtaining funding. Barriers identified were funding, complicated laws, and attitudes.

Conclusions:  ADA Training can increase knowledge and skills.  Future research should identify which specific sessions are most beneficial to consumers.

Points of Interest

Examining whether ADA training offered by the National ADA Network increases knowledge and skills regarding the ADA for those who attend is important to persons with disabilities, their families and other stakeholders such as employers, builders, and advocates. Feedback from the stakeholders also assists in providing the most effective training in components of the ADA.  Without effective training on the components of the ADA and amendments, inequity in employment and community participation will continue to occur for people with disabilities in the United States. 

Introduction

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was passed in the United States in 1990 and amended in 2008 to prohibit discrimination against individuals with disabilities in employment, public accommodations, transportation, federal, state, and local government services, and telecommunications (Rozalski et al. 2010; US Department of Justice, n.d.).  This policy not only affects the 56.7 million Americans, or 18.7 percent of the civilian non-institutionalized population who have a disability, but also other stakeholders such as employers, business owners, architects, and other individuals in the community who need to be educated on the goals and regulations of the ADA (US Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics [BLS] 2012).

While the intention of the ADA was to improve the quality of life and decrease discrimination for those with disabilities, its effectiveness often comes into question (Harrison 2002). For example, with regard to employment, at the time of its passage, there was concern that the strict laws requiring accommodation of workers and high legal costs would prevent the hiring of workers with a disability (Houston, Lammers, and Svorny 2010). In fact, recent data from 2010 show that employment rates of individuals with disabilities is as low as 18.6% (BLS 2012). Consistently one of the barriers against employment of is lack of knowledge on the part of the employer as to how to accommodate an employee with a disability (McMahon and Hurley 2008).  Although there is much research regarding employment of people with disabilities, there is little research on the effectiveness of training focused on accommodating persons with disabilities.

One example of such a training effort is the National ADA Symposium, an annual event sponsored by the ADA National Network which provides current information on ADA regulations, guidelines, and best practices through educational sessions (“National ADA Symposium,” n.d.). These training sessions provide the latest information on ADA regulations and guidelines, implementation strategies, and best practices to a variety of stakeholders including, but not limited to builders, ADA coordinators, disability advocates, human resource professionals and individuals with disabilities. The goal of the symposium is that attendees will use the information and implement it in their work, community, and personal lives.  To date, there has not been a comprehensive evaluation of the effectiveness of training such as the National ADA Symposium.                 

The purpose of this research was to determine if and how the attendees of The National ADA Symposium are implementing the information they have learned in their workplace and/or community and, if not, what barriers prevented implementation of the information.  Results from this research add to the knowledge base by providing evidence as to the effectiveness of ADA training and assist with possible revisions to the training.  

Literature Review

Workplace

The ADA was enacted to prohibit discrimination of those with disabilities in employment, for example, wage determination, hiring, and firing (Acemoglu and Angrist 2001). However, research shows that 10 years after the ADA was enacted, there was no significant difference in unemployment rates, especially among women with disabilities (Smith-Randolph and Andreson 2004). The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) (2012) released statistics on current labor force characteristics for persons with a disability and according to 2011 data, the employment-population ratio for persons with a disability was 18.6 percent compared to persons without a disability at 63.5 percent.

The main barriers to employment for persons with disabilities identified in the literature are discriminatory attitudes from employers and the complexity of accommodations (Mangili et al. 2004; Kaye, Jans and Jones 2011; Scheid 2005; Smith-Randolph, 2005). In addition, common barriers to employment identified were as follows: cost of accommodation, functional limitations, dependability, customer interaction, educational level, fear of lawsuit, and ignorance of how to appropriately work with and meet the person’s accommodation needs (Kaye, Jans and Jones 2011; Mangili et al. 2004; Scheid 2005). In one study, managers and human resource professionals participated in a questionnaire containing statements regarding why employers in general might be hesitant to hire or retain workers with disabilities (Kaye, Jans and Jones 2011).  More than half of the respondents agreed that ‘employers didn’t hire workers with disabilities because they feel that they cannot perform essential job functions’ and ‘employers discriminate against applicants with disabilities’ (532). Overall, in regard to hiring persons with disabilities, these findings suggest that lack of knowledge by the employer creates barriers for potential employees.

Community: public accommodations    

Research has shown that there has been a major emphasis in making communities not only physically accessible to people with disabilities but also socially acceptable (Milner and Kelly 2009).  Findings showed that, ‘what mattered most to people was not where but how they participated’ (56). In addition, five attributes were identified that people with disabilities reported as antecedents to participating and having a sense of belonging in the community:  ‘Self-determination, social identity, reciprocity and valued contribution, participatory expectations, psychological safety, and incorporating geographics of belonging in navigating towards a more inclusive society’ (56-57).   This study emphasized that people with disabilities want to be able to seek jobs on their own, feel important and known in their communities, and have the same accessibility in their community as people without disabilities.

Both Milner and Kelly (2009) and McClain et al. (1998) reported that even though businesses and places in the community may offer wheelchair accessibility or accessible locations, it is often segregated from the general public.  For example, persons with disabilities interviewed stated that when they go to a movie theater or sports game the facilities often have wheelchair accessible seating but the participants are unable to sit with their friends in the general public section or are only allowed to have one friend sit with them in the wheelchair accessible section (McClain et al. 1998).  In this research, participants added that at times there may be parking, but there is inadequate space for an accessible van or wheelchair to fit between vehicles.  These studies consistently show that even though the ADA has made great accomplishments in making communities accessible for people with disabilities, there is still an issue of making people with disabilities feel segregated from the general public.

The ADA and amendments

Although the ADA was signed in 1990, there is much information and changes that stakeholders need to be aware of in order to implement in their work and community settings. 

In addition to the initial components of the ADA, and as a result of concern over the narrowed definition of disability and Supreme Court rulings, the ADA Amendments Act (ADAAA) was enacted in 2008 to redefine disability and reinstate a broad scope of protection under the ADA (Rozalski et al. 2010).  Improving stakeholder’s knowledge of the components of the ADA and the amendments is one of the main goals of The National ADA symposia; however, because of the recency of these amendments, it is difficult to determine whether training has been effective in increasing knowledge and skills necessary for implementation into employment or community life. 

ADA training

Limited research has been conducted concerning training on ADA policy for people with disabilities, employers, and businesses (Hayden 1991; Rumrill 1999; Wolfe Ofiesh and Boone 1996).  Hayden (1991) implemented a workshop about ADA policies (specifically Title I and III) and to share the types of challenges that people with disabilities face. Participants indicated that they found solutions to implementing ADA standards and gained a new perspective on hiring employees with disabilities. Both Hayden (1991) and Wolfe et al. (1996) found that having persons with disabilities share their own work experiences and teach others how to self-advocate was a common teaching practice. Although training may have increased knowledge regarding the ADA, Wolfe et al. (1996) identified barriers experienced when self-advocating for ADA implementation. These barriers included “money (20%); system organization, philosophy/structure (14%); time constraints (1%); service locale (6%); and community attitudes (4%)” (p. 6). This study presented important issues that need to be addressed in ADA training methods; however, this study was prior to the 2008 amendments made to the ADA.

 One source of training on the ADA is through ADA centers, formerly referred to as Disability and Business Technical Assistance Centers (DBTAC) which were created by provisions of the ADA (Independent Living USA 1998).  There are 10 ADA centers are located throughout the United States that offer a variety of training to their designated area, including: workshops, webinars, tool kits, online trainings, and personalized presentations (US Department of Justice n.d.). In addition, the National ADA Symposium is held annually to provide education on policy, accommodation changes, and information on current ADA regulations (“National ADA Symposium” n.d.).

Following each annual symposium, exit surveys are sent to participants to determine demographics and satisfaction with the training.  These surveys are specific to the symposium attended and ask questions regarding demographics of the participant, role, disability status, strengths and weaknesses of the seminars and speakers and use of the information in the community or work settings. Although a majority of the respondents stated that they planned to use the information learned in the employment or community setting, the ADA center organizing the symposium identified a need for more specific information regarding the effectiveness of ADA training offered at The National ADA Symposia and potential barriers to implementing information with regard to employment and community participation. Therefore, the research questions are: (1) Do the participants from the ADA symposia perceive that the ADA training has been effective in increasing knowledge and skills regarding employment and/or community participation? (2) What are the barriers identified by the participants to implementation of the information learned at the symposia?  And, (3) how has the information learned in the symposia been implemented in the workplace and/or community? 

Methods

Sample

Following the 2010 and 2011 Symposia, 476 surveys were returned out of 1049 attendees (45.5%).  These surveys show that participants were more likely to be female, between the ages of 46-60, living in a small or large city, and working for the government (Table 1).  Participants typically described their role as ADA consultant, ADA coordinator, advocate, individual with a disability, or in a management or administrative position.  The majority of attendees surveyed described their level of improvement of knowledge and skills as good to excellent and that the information would be used in the work (96.7%) or community (67.9%) setting.

Table 1. ADA Symposia survey results (2010-2011) (N=476)

Variable

Percent

Gender

     Male

     Female

 

43.3% (206)

56.7% (270)

Age

     18-30

     31-45

     46-60

     60+

 

3.3% (16)

35.4% (168)

50.8% (242)

10.5% (20)

Disability status

     Yes

     No

 

43.3% (206)

56.7% (270)

Community setting

     Rural

     Small city

     Large city

     Suburban

 

9.3% (44)

33.7% (161)

45.5% (217)

11.4% (54)

Industry/organization category

     For-profit business

     Non-profit business

     Government

     Not working

     Other

 

17.5% (83)

31.3% (149)

40.7%  (194)

0.4% (2)

10.2% (49)

Occupation/role (respondents could enter more than one response)

     ADA Consultant

     ADA Coordinator

     Administration

     Advocate

     Architect/Design/Construction

     ADA Center staff/affiliate/network

     Educator

     Family member of an individual with a disability

     Human resource manager

     Individual with a disability

     Management

     Service provider

     Other

 

28.9% (138)

26.0% (124)

13.0% (62)

25.2% (120)

12.2% (58)

14.6% (69)

8.1% (39)

6.5% (31)

5.7% (27)

17.9% (85)

12.2% (58)

9.3% (44)

37.1% (180)

Improvement of skills

     Excellent

     Good

     Average

     Fair

     Poor

     N/A

 

22.8% (109)

52.8% (251)

16.7% (79)

4.5% (21)

1.2% (6)

2.0% (10)

Improvement of knowledge

    Excellent

     Good

     Average

     Fair

     Poor

     N/A

 

29.8% (142)

55.1% (262)

8.6% (41)

4.9% (23)

0.4% (2)

1.2% (6)

Use of information from the ADA symposia (respondents could enter more than one response)

     Community

     Work

     Neither

 

 

67.9% (323)

96.7% (460)

1.2% (6)

 

For this research, respondents from the 2010 and 2011 exit surveys were contacted for a follow-up survey and phone/email interview.  A total of 140 people responded to the follow-up online ADA survey (29.4%). The majority of the respondents to the follow-up online survey were female (65%) and between the ages of 41-60 (77.1%).  The most common roles were ADA coordinator, advocate, disability organization/agency, and government employee.  Forty-five percent of respondents were individuals with disabilities and 17.1% were family members of an individual with a disability (Table 2).  Ninety-nine people initially consented to be contacted for additional follow up interview, though only 47 of those individuals eventually consented to participate.

Table 2. ADA Symposium follow-up survey demographics N=140

Variable

Percentage

Gender

     Male

     Female

 

35.0% (49)

65.0% (91)

Age

     18-30

     31-40

     41-50

     51-60

     61+

 

0.7% (1)

13.6% (19)

30.7% (43)

46.4% (65)

8.6% (12)

Current role (all that apply so total  >100%)

     ADA coordinator

     Advocate

     Code official

     Educator

Organization/agency

     Disability organization

     Employer/HR

     Government

     Service provider

Other

 

26.4% (37)

26.4% (37)

3.6% (5)

6.4% (9)

 

26.4% (37)

13.6% (19)

37.1% (52)

10.0% (14)

20.0% (28)

Current setting

     College/university

     For profit business

     Government

     Not-for-profit business

 

10.0% (14)

14.3% (20)

42.1% (59)

33.6% (47)

Disability status (total > 100%)

     Yes-individual

     No-individual

     Family member

 

45.0% (63)

52.1% (73)

17.1% (24)

 

Instrument

The follow-up online survey and follow-up phone/email interview were the primary instruments used to gather data for this project. The instruments were developed by the researchers, which include occupational therapy students from a Midwestern university and their research mentor in collaboration with members of the regional ADA Center. The online survey (Appendix 1) was comprised of 10 questions intended to gather basic demographic information, general information about how training was implemented, and whether or not they would participate in a follow-up interview by phone or email. The follow-up phone/email interview included four open ended questions with the purpose of gathering more detailed information about how attendees of the symposia have used the information learned and what barriers they have experienced at work and in the community (Appendix 2). These surveys were developed by the researchers; therefore, they are not reliable or valid. An exempt approval from the University Institutional Review Board (IRB) was received on February 28, 2012. 

Procedure

The follow-up online survey was available to the attendees via Survey Monkey for two weeks from March 1-14, 2012. The final question of the online survey asked respondents if they would participate in a 10 minute follow-up interview by phone or email. Four occupational therapy students contacted those who expressed interest in the follow-up interview between May and July, 2012.

Analysis

In order to determine the effectiveness of the ADA training from the National ADA Symposia, this study utilized a mixed method (quantitative and qualitative), post-test only research design. The results of the follow-up online survey were analyzed using a Statistical Package for Social Sciences Version (SPSS) v. 19. The dependent variables were the implementation of knowledge gained in the work and community environments.  The independent variables were facilitators and barriers identified by the participants. Confounding variables included demographics such as role (government employee, ADA coordinator, etc.) and disability status. Descriptive analysis was used to determine if respondents perceived an increase in knowledge and skills relative to employment and/or community participation, how the information learned was used in these settings and what barriers were encountered.  Descriptive analysis was also used to compare the implementation of knowledge and barriers experienced by role, disability status and setting. Data from the follow-up interview to determine more specifically how the knowledge and skills were being implemented relative to employment and/or community and what barriers were encountered were analyzed qualitatively, which consisted of coding extracts, labeling, and defining themes based on the responses. Researchers then met with members of the regional ADA Center to determine the accuracy of the results.

Results

Follow-up online survey

            Results of the online survey to determine if respondents perceived an increase in knowledge and skills relative to employment and/or community participation showed that the majority of attendees (60.7%) reported both community and work as the primary setting used to implement information learned at the event (Table 3). One-third of respondents reported application of information from the symposium in their work setting. Almost half of the attendees (47.9%) used the information to implement additional training and education. Others applied the information in the areas of accommodations/design (32.1%) and policy/advocacy (28.6%). The majority of attendees (91.4%) stated that there were no barriers to implementation of information learned at the symposia. Others mentioned time (3.6%) and lack of peer support (2.9%) as additional barriers to implementation. Further barriers mentioned were financial, management issues, and effort. A small percentage (2.8%) acknowledged that they didn’t learn new information or information was not applicable.

Table 3.  Outcomes from attendance at Symposia from follow-up online survey N=140

Variable

Percentage

Setting that information learned at the symposium used

     Community

     Work

     Neither

     Both

 

2.9% (4)

33.6% (47)

2.9% (4)

60.7% (85)

How information learned at symposium was used (total > 100%)

     Policy/advocacy

     Training/education

     Accommodations/design

     Enforcement/compliance

     Personal knowledge/advocacy

 

 

28.6% (40)

47.9% (67)

32.1%  (45)

12.9% (18)

3.6% (5)

Barriers to implementing information learned at symposium

     Financial

     Management

     Time

     Effort

     Didn't learn new information

     Information was not applicable

     Lack of peer support

     No barriers

 

 

1.4% (2)

0.7% (1)

3.6% (5)

0.0% (0)

2.1% (3)

0.7% (1)

2.9% (4)

91.4% (128)

 

Use of information by identified role

Survey respondents who identified their role as an advocate (19.7%), disability organization/agency (19.0%), and federal/local/state government (18.4%) reported the highest percentages of use of information from the National ADA Symposium in their work and community (Table 4). ADA coordinators and federal/local/state government employee roles most often reported using the information at work.  Approximately half of the respondents who identified a role in a government setting reported using the information in their work and community. The majority of the respondents who identified their setting as a not-for-profit organization reported that they used the information in their work and community.

Table 4. Use of knowledge and skills obtained at the ADA Symposia from follow-up online survey  N=140

Variable

Community

    Work

  Neither

      Both

 

Role    

     ADA Coordinator

     Advocate

     Code Official

     Disability

Organization/Agency

     Educator

     Employer/HR

     Federal/Local/State Government

     Service Provider

     Other

N=8

 

25.0% (2)

25.0% (2)

0.0% (0)

12.5% (1)

 

12.5% (1)

12.5% (1)

0.0% (0)

 

0.0% (0)

12.5% (1)

 N=74

 

21.6% (16)

6.8% (5)

4.1% (3)

9.5% (7)

 

1.4% (1)

6.8% (5)

33.78% (25)

 

1.4% (1)

14.86% (11)

N=5

 

20.0% (1)

20.0% (1)

0.0% (0)

20.0% (1)

 

0.0% (0)

0.0% (0)

0.0% (0)

 

0.0% (0)

40.0% (2)

N=147

 

12.2% (18)

19.7% (29)

1.4% (2)

19.0% (28)

 

4.8% (7)

3.4% (5)

18.367% (27)

 

8.8% (13)

12.24% (18)

Disability Status

     Yes

     No

     Family Member

N=4

75.0% (3)

25.0% (1)

0.0% (0)

N=51

25.5% (13)

66.7% (34)

7.8% (4)

N=6

50.0% (3)

1.7% (1)

33.3% (2)

N=99

44.4% (44)

37.4% (37)

18.2% (18)

Current setting

     College/university

     For profit business

     Government

     Not-for-profit business

N=4

0.0% (0)

0.0% (0)

25.0% (1)

75.0% (3)

N=47

14.9% (7)

10.6% (5)

59.6% (28)

14.9% (7)

N=4

0.0% (0)

50.0% (2)

25.0% (1)

25.0% (1)

N=85

8.2% (7)

15.3% (13)

34.1% (29)

42.4% (36)

 

Barriers

The majority (91.4%) of the individuals who attended The National ADA Symposium reported encountering no barriers to implementing information (Table 5). The most frequently reported barriers were time (3.6%), lack of peer support (2.9%), and no learning of any new information (2.1%). Other barriers encountered include financial, management, and that the information learned was not applicable. ADA coordinators and government employees encountered time as a barrier more frequently than other roles. Government employees encountered lack of peer support most frequently. Failure to gain new information at the symposia was encountered most frequently by educators.

Table 5. Barriers to using knowledge and skills provided at the ADA Symposia from the online follow-up survey N=140

Variable

Financial

 Management

  Time

No New Knowledge

Role    

     ADA Coordinator

     Advocate

     Code Official

     Educator

Organization/Agency

     Disability organization

     Employer/HR

     Government

     Service Provider

     Other

N=8

25.0% (2)

12.5% (1)

0.0% (0)

0.0% (0)

 

12.5% (1)

25.0% (2)

12.5% (1)

12.5% (1)

0.0% (0)

N=7

14.3% (1)

14.3% (1)

0.0% (0)

0.0% (0)

 

14.3% (1)

28.6% (2)

14.3% (1)

14.3% (1)

0.0% (0)

N=9

22.2% (2)

11.1% (1)

0.0% (0)

0.0% (0)

 

0.0% (0)

11.1% (1)

44.4% (4)

11.1% (1)

0.0% (0)

N=7

14.3% (1)

14.3% (1)

14.3% (1)

0.0% (0)

 

28.6% (2)

0.0% (0)

0.0% (0)

0.0% (0)

28.6% (2)

Disability Status

     Yes

     No

     Family Member

N=2

50% (1)

50% (1)

0.0% (0)

N=1

100% (1)

0.0%  (0)

0.0%  (0)

N=5

20.0% (1)

80.0% (4)

0.0% (0)

N=4

50.0% (2)

25.0% (1)

25.0% (1)

Current setting

     College/university

     For profit business

     Government

     Not-for-profit business

N=2

0.0% (0)

0.0% (0)

50.0% (1)

50.0% (1)

N=1

0.0% (0)

0.0% (0)

0.0% (0)

100% (1)

N=5

0.0% (0)

0.0% (0)

80.0% (4)

20.0% (1)

N=3

0.0% (0)

0.0% (0)

33.3% (1)

66.7% (2)

 

Follow-up interview

 

All of the participants in the follow-up interview stated that they were able to implement the information they learned at the ADA Symposium in their work and community. One respondent stated, ‘Yes, [I was] able to use a lot of the information and current updates on laws and ADA standards to incorporate into the training I provide at work.’ Another respondent stated, ‘Yes. I am very grateful for regional ADA Center and absolutely enjoy my experiences at the symposia.’

            Respondents were then asked a follow-up question as to how the information was implemented. Most respondents implemented the information through training (staff and others), networking/peer support, obtaining funding, additional guidance at work, community action, and advocacy (community, work, funding, and support). Providing training to staff and others was the leading theme for implementation (approximately 40%). With regard to training, one respondent commented, ‘Using the information from the symposium, we developed self-advocacy training to present to members of the community related to employment issues,’ which was echoed by another respondent who noted the he, along with other staff members ‘provide training to other organizations when requested.’ According to another respondent, implementation of information was also achieved through ‘community, peer support, networks, organizations, and additional funding.’

Less than 30% of individuals interviewed reported facing no barriers when implementing what they learned at The National ADA Symposium. The most prevalent barrier reported was funding. One person reported that management at their work is resistant to implementation of ADA standards due to their economic situation. He said that the management is constantly saying ‘later, when the budget gets better.’ Another highly prevalent barrier was resistance or getting people to ‘buy in.’ One respondent reported that he encounters people who say ‘this is the way it has always been, so why change?’ making it difficult to get people to agree to implementing ADA standards. The next most prevalent barrier reported was attitude. One individual reported, ‘There is always reluctance on the part of some public and private entities to implement ADA [standards] because it requires change, effort, and money; it has been difficult to convince both public and private entities that it is worth it.’ Other barriers encountered include complicated laws, ignorance, lack of knowledge of standards, limited access to technology, limited understanding, non-compliance, and time.

When asked what kinds of resources would further empower them to take action or implement the information learned at the ADA Symposium, the responses fell into two subcategories as some responses identified resources that could be provided by The National ADA Symposium and some identified ‘general’ resources that would be helpful but cannot be addressed by the regional ADA Center or National ADA Symposium. The majority of responses that qualified for the ‘general’ category named additional funding as the most needed additional resource. One respondent stated, ‘limited funding produces limited results.’ Another common suggestion was further online resources such as online training, information, and webinars. One respondent felt that online resources would help everyone stay current with ongoing changes and trends. Respondents also reported that facilitating partnerships between ADA Coordinators and County Coordinators and offering more network opportunities for ADA Coordinators would be beneficial. Other suggestions included more active participation from persons with disabilities, determining strategies regarding how to get local officials more involved, and providing clearer guidelines.

The remaining responses to this question focused on ways to improve the outcomes of The National ADA Symposium, though a common response to this question was that the resources offered at the symposium were sufficient and there were no further resources needed. A suggestion from several of the respondents was for the symposia to offer more resources for ADA coordinators such as an online bulletin board and an ADA coordinator panel at The National ADA Symposium where ADA coordinators could give each other feedback about successful programs in their community and work place. Another suggestion was to provide more detailed information about who would benefit from specific sessions held at the symposium. Further suggestions were to provide more specific information for federal agencies, focus on providing accessibility to persons who are hearing impaired, offer continued training, and provide staff training for ADA coordinators. 

Discussion

Results from this study showed that in general, participants perceived that the National ADA Symposia was effective in increasing knowledge and skills regarding employment and/or community participation and were implementing knowledge gained in these settings.  These results are consistent with the literature (Rumrill 1999) that showed increased knowledge and confidence of participants with disabilities following an experimental training program. This training included ‘didactic instruction, role plays, a rehearsal, feedback and monitoring’ (26). Rumrill also incorporated social competence training, which is consistent with comments from participants from this study who wanted more active involvement of persons with disabilities in implementing change.  Barriers identified in the survey are also consistent with the literature especially with regard to and ignorance of how to appropriately work with and meet the person’s accommodation needs (Kaye, Jans and Jones 2011; Mangili et al. 2004; Scheid 2005, Wolf et al. 1996). 

According to the results of this study, knowledge gained from the Symposia was implemented at both the workplace and community level, consistent with Wolf et al. (1996) and Rumrill (1999) who showed a desire from participants for more active involvement of persons with disabilities to help implement knowledge gained. However, implementation also occurred at the employer level, which is important to address knowledge gaps identified in the literature (Kaye et al. 2011; Mangili et al. 2004; Scheid 2005). In addition, Hayden’s (1992) study found that having persons with disabilities discuss problems they face in the workplace with businesses and employers helped employers alter their views on hiring persons with disabilities. Therefore, results of this study, consistent with the literature show that this type of training provides valuable information for various stakeholders with regard to implementation of knowledge in employment and community participation.

 Several strengths of this research can be identified. For example, the online survey that was distributed to attendees of the symposia was created and edited with feedback from the ADA Center. Access to this survey was made simple by electronic distribution to the attendees and each person was able to access the survey online via survey monkey anonymously. There are also limitations to this research. The instruments used to conduct this study were not tested for reliability or validity. The response rate for the online survey was low (29.4%) which could bias results. Also, examples were provided as part of questions on both the online survey and phone/email interview (financial barriers, time, attitudes, etc.) to help respondents think about their own experience. However, it is possible that responses were based on these examples alone and may not include additional information specific to the respondent’s individual experience. In addition, respondents were asked questions over the phone, which could create some bias in the answers given. Some respondents may have responded more positively over the phone than if they had been filling out an anonymous survey. The online survey and phone/email interview asked respondents about the 2010 and 2011 symposia and because it had been a year or longer since the respondents had attended these Symposia, respondents may have forgotten some important details about their particular symposium or their experience with implementation. The sample for the phone/email interview was composed of respondents who consented to be contacted for further questions; therefore, it should also be noted that there could be a bias among those who chose to respond to the survey.

 Conclusion

 

Results from this study show that those who attended the 2010 and 2011 symposia consider the information provided by The National ADA Symposia valuable and applicable in the workplace and community. Additionally, data from this research provide insight into barriers that prevent attendees from implementing policies that would assist with full compliance with ADA standards. Many of the barriers identified in this research are consistent with previous research (Kaye, Jans, and Jones 2011; Mangili et al. 2004; Scheid 2005, Wolf 1996), including cost of accommodation, functional limitations, dependability, customer interaction, educational level, fear of lawsuit, and ignorance of how to appropriately work with and meet the person’s accommodation needs (Kaye, Jans and Jones 2011).

Overall, this research provides evidence that The National ADA Symposium provides adequate information to its attendees to implement ADA standards in their work and/or community. However, this research does not provide any evidence as to which specific sessions and speakers are most effective for attendees.  Future research should focus on which specific topic sessions and speakers are most beneficial to consumers with particular goals in mind.

 

 

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Appendix 1. ADA Symposia follow-up survey

1. Gender

  1. Male
  2. Female

2. Age

a.     18-29

b.     30-39

c.     40-49

d.     50-59

e.     60+

3. Is this the first ADA Symposium you have attended?

  1. Yes
  2. No

4. Which of the following best describes your role? Check all that apply.

  1. ADA Center professional
  2. ADA coordinator
  3. Advocate
  4. Architect/design professional
  5. Attorney
  6. Business owner/manager
  7. Code official
  8. ADA Consultant
  9. Disability organization
  10. Educator
  11. Employer/HR
  12. Government employee
  13. Service provider
  14. Other

5. Which of the following best describes your setting?

  1. Business-for profit
  2. Government
  3. Business-not for profit
  4. College/university
  5. Other____________________________________________________________

6. Are you an individual with a disability? Check all that apply.

  1. Yes
  2. No
  3. Family member

 

 

7. Did you useor are you using what you learned at the National ADA Symposium in your community or work?:

  1. Community
  2. Work
  3. Neither
  4. Both

8. How were you able to use the information gained at the Symposium in your work and/or community? (i.e. policy change, accommodations, training, etc.)

 

9. If you were not able to use the information you gained at the Symposium, what were the

          reason(s)? Check all that apply

  1. Effort
  2. Didn’t learn anything new
  3. Financial
  4. Information learned wasn’t applicable
  5. Lack of peer support
  6. Management
  7. Time
  8. Not applicable
  9. Other___________________________________________________________

10. May we contact you by phone briefly (10 minutes or less) or e-mail to ask further questions about how you used what you learned at the ADA Symposium?

  1. Yes, phone
  2. Yes, email
  3. Yes, either
  4. No

If yes, please provide the following:

  1. Name
  2. Phone number:
  3. Email:
  4. Best time to reach you

 

 

 

 

 

 

Appendix 2. ADA phone/email survey follow-up questions

  1. Were you able to implement the information that you learned at the ADA Symposium in your work or community?

 

  1. If so, how was this achieved? Examples: through community/family/peer support, networks, organizations, additional funding, etc

 

  1. What barriers did you face when trying to implement the information that you gained in your work, home, or community?

 

4. What kinds of resources would further empower you to take action or implement the things you have learned at the ADA Symposium?