Galloway, F. & Shea, M. M. (2009). Does your organization welcome participants with disabilities? A new assessment tool. Afterschool Matters, 9, 12–19.
With an increase in the enrollments of youth with disabilities in afterschool programs, organizations must evaluate if their programs truly welcome children and youth with disabilities. The authors of this study developed a valid and statistically reliable instrument, Organizational Developmental Model of Inclusion for Individuals with Disabilities (ODMI-IWD), to assist the program providers in developing policies to improve on perceived weakness in the areas of inclusion: diversity, differential treatment, congruency, motivational imperative, and experience.
The authors administered the ODMI-IWD (40 questions, rated on a 5-point Likert scale) to five large-scale afterschool providers in southern California serving more than 30,000 students in 45 sites. They analyzed 216 completed survey results, almost evenly split between parents and staff (both leadership and direct providers).
From the results, the authors observed two key findings. First, this instrument helps stakeholders to see the extent to which an organization demonstrates inclusive practices for children with disabilities. Second, this instrument reveals differences among the responses of organization leaders, staff members, and parents of children with and without disabilities. Ideally, if external and internal stakeholders agree in their assessment of the organization’s strengths and weaknesses, then the organization can implement strategies of inclusion more swiftly than in a scenario where only some of the stakeholders believed that change is needed. However, the authors concluded from this study that this was not the case. For example, service providers generally believed they were doing a better job of creating a welcoming environment and providing quality services for children with disabilities than did parents. Furthermore, leaders consistently rated the organization to be more inclusive than did program staff, since staff members are more dedicated to whom they serve.
As a result of these perception differences, the authors emphasize the potential value of the ODMI-IWD for supporting crucial decisions on issues of inclusion and access across the full range of afterschool program service providers.