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troubleinharlem's avatar

Can you help me develop some questions for my special needs survey?

Asked by troubleinharlem (7968 points ) March 15th, 2011

Okay… so, for my major in Social Work I’m supposed to develop some questions for a special needs survey that I’m doing. I’m having a lot of trouble trying to get some questions together that I’m supposed to ask the people.

This is for a volunteer work project that I’m doing – I’m in charge of getting questions together so that I can ask the special needs people and hopefully implement them into the church services or something.

What can I ask these different people so that I can get a wide spectrum of the needs basis in the congregation? I’m not even sure where to start – I thought it would be easy, but I just need some guidance and/or examples.

And no, I can’t ask the professor because it’s supposed to be completely me doing this project – I got this far in deciding that they needed a needs basis, and I’m expected to do the rest by myself.

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24 Answers

crisw's avatar

This is fairly unclear as to what you need- what kinds of special needs? Are we talking mental health, physical health, economic issues?

troubleinharlem's avatar

@crisw : All of the above.

wundayatta's avatar

I’m sorry. What are “special needs” people? What is your research question? Are you asking what needs do the special need population have? Are you trying to find out what services they want? What is this information going to be used for?

crisw's avatar

And are these issues that a church service is supposed to address, or are these issues that someone will actually help the people with? Is this “Pray for me about X” or “I need some food to feed my kids”?

troubleinharlem's avatar

@wundayatta : People with special needs, like with mental disabilities and physical disabilities. I’m trying to figure out what services they need, and how the church can implement them into the service.

@crisw : this is stuff that I would actually do, for example, making the font bigger on bulletins and such.

I know this is super vague, but it’s what I’m working with here.

crisw's avatar

Ah, OK.

So I think you would focus on things like “What services could we provide to make your experience better?” Maybe ask if they have visual issues, hearing issues, mobility issues and what they need to address these- sign language interpreters, bigger fonts, Braille, more comfortable seating, whatever. It seems pretty straightforward.

I don’t think you are really addressing economic issues, though, from my list above. Nne of this will help a hungry mom feed her kids. I suspect that isn’t part of what you’re trying to address.

troubleinharlem's avatar

@crisw : Yeah, not so much the economic issues, but it could be since I have a lot of resources in this big binder that the church gave me.

SpatzieLover's avatar

I have a special needs child. He has Asperger’s, a form of autism.

Here are questions I’d love my church to ask me:
What can we provide to make your church experience less stressful?
How can we help you educate other parishioners of your child’s needs?
What elements of church cause your child anxiety? How could we help lessen that anxiety?
Is your child comfortable in the seating we offer? If no, what type of seating or room would make their experience more comfortable.

I can tell you @troubleinharlem we have had to change churches for our son. We have a church on our block that my family helped to develop 6 generations ago. That church is too loud for our son. It does have a crying room, but parishioners do not follow the rules (something that is vital to our son, a “rule” boy). The crying room has wooden pews, linoleum flooring, isn’t cleaned well, is too warm, is too bright, and the speaker system crackles.

The church (another one family members help to develop generations ago) we now attend has a solidly constructed crying room. It is carpeted (which makes it cozier and quieter). Adults and teens do not go into the crying rooms unless they have a child (unlike the other church).

Let me know what other info you’re looking for. I’ll gladly put in my two cents ;)

wundayatta's avatar

You could use a likert scale and ask them to prioritize services. How important is x to you? List a bunch of specific services, like are service, or refitting their bathrooms or or help going to dr’s appointments, or having a nurse practitioner provide services at the church once a month, etc. You would need to research a whole list of services, and also ask about ones that are unique to your population.

You could also base it on other people’s surveys. You can find a little information on make surveys here. This is an example of a needs assessment instrument.

You might also consider how long you want to spend on this. If you ask open-ended questions, where they have to write things—it will be a hell of a mess recording the data. You won’t be able to read half the answers, and then you’ll have to do a qualitative analysis, which, presumably, is not what your Professor wants.

You want to constrain their responses, so it is easier to enter the data into a database. They choose yes or no or select a number on the Likert scale. You could use the above questions (spatzie lover), but you have to change it to a likerst scale score where they can indicate how important these things are.

If you do qualitative research, I guarantee you will not finish this course this semester.

janbb's avatar

What gets in the way of your experience of the church service and what can we do to make it better for you?

WasCy's avatar

1. Are there any barriers that we can lower or ways that we can help you to learn about the products / services that we offer?

2. Are there obstacles that prevent you from coming to our place of business to obtain products / services?

3. While at our facility what prevents you from fully enjoying the products / services that we offer?

4. Can we offer products and services to suit your needs better?

5. Can we offer products and services in a different manner so that you can enjoy them more fully? (Such as home delivery, online, after hours, via cable TV, etc.)

Leave lots of room for people to voice their own special opinions.

Cupcake's avatar

I largely agree with @wundayatta in terms of your project for the semester… but a good quantitative survey is based on good qualitative leg work. You may wish to sit down with a few people from your church… perhaps relatives of your targeted population or the pastor… and identify some themes from which to develop questions. A survey is only as useful as the preliminary work that went into it… so you have to be very specific about what information you want to discover, how you will compile it and what are the limitations of implementation (ie. you may not want to ask questions about the comfort of the benches if the church will not consider making seating changes).

To simplify this project, though, you could combine qualitative and quantitative components into your survey instrument. To analyze, then, you would summarize the themes from the open-ended questions and numerically summarize the quantitative questions.

You also should consider who exactly your target audience is… perhaps by developing inclusion and exclusion criteria.

Personally, I think that you should discover the key themes of your survey from your church “administration” or the targeted population. Otherwise, the questions you make up on your own will be of limited relevance and implement-ability.

gailcalled's avatar

@troubleinharlem: Given Fluther’s policy on homework and your mission…it’s supposed to be completely me doing this project…should you be asking the collective to do your work?

wundayatta's avatar

@gailcalled I don’t think we’re doing her work. She has to learn a lot in order to be able to do this work in a way that has any utility at all. We’re pointing in directions, but she has a hell of a lot of work in front of her. In most universities, they devote a full course to survey design and implementation.

@Cupcake I agree with your comments. I like the idea of doing both qual and quant.

I would suggest limiting the number of questions to what you can fit on one side of a sheet of paper. When you ask your open-ended questions, leave a lot of space for answers. Whatever you think a “lot” is. Double it.

SuperMouse's avatar

For a person with special needs it is all about accessibility. All of the questions about what can be done to make the church and all the various services it offers more accessible and welcoming are the ones that need to be asked. I can only speak to issues regarding physical disabilities, but I would want to have some say about parking (is there room to lower a ramp), seating (will a person who uses a wheelchair have a place to sit that isn’t in the middle of an aisle), getting through doors, steps, etc.

One more quick note, as silly as this might sound, when you are putting together the survey, your description thereof, and summary of your findings and recommendations, be sure to use person first language. In other words instead of saying “special needs person” say “person with special needs.”

@Cupcake, I lurve your answer, special kudos for putting together such a great response on an empty stomach! :o)

troubleinharlem's avatar

@SuperMouse : Oh… thank you. That’s really helpful.

john65pennington's avatar

State something that you need that will make your life better
Pretend you have three wishes and tell them to me
Exercising. can you do exercises?
Can you feed and dress yourself?
I insist you become my friend, okay?
Always say a prayer before you eat
Love your family and friends

No is not in your vocabulary
Enjoy your life on earth
Extra desserts are possible for you. are you hungry?
Don’t forget that I and everyone else here, loves you
Smiles are always welcome

WasCy's avatar

I would also suggest asking the questions / conducting the survey orally rather than in written form (because some people are illiterate and that will be a particular barrier) and in several languages spoken in the neighborhood.

Anemone's avatar

It might help you to talk with a few people and/or their family members first. Use what you learn to help you fine-tune your approach.

You could also talk to the pastor (or others in charge) and see what he or she says. What is already being done, from his/her point of view? What special needs has he or she already identified in members (even if those needs aren’t being addressed)?

In the “real world”, before you try to solve a problem, it’s best to figure out what is already in place. I think it makes sense to do this for your homework project as well. I hope that makes sense… and that you have enough time to do an assessment-type of survey first.

Adagio's avatar

@john65pennington As a mature adult with a physical disability I have to say I found your questions highly insulting… no one has the right to insist I become their friend… whether I pray before I eat is totally irrelevant to the disability I have… from my perspective, NO is essential to one’s vocabulary… whether I enjoy my life on earth is my business and no one else’s… extra deserts? WTF?... if anybody said “don’t forget that I and everyone else here loves you” I would throw up…

When I first read the list I wondered if you were being cynical, but finally decided you were not…

Cupcake's avatar

Thanks @SuperMouse. I’m taking survey research this semester… so that helped! Happy fasting!

troubleinharlem's avatar

@Adagio : You’re right, no one has the right to insist that you become their friend. Geez. And what’s with the extra desserts thing, @john65pennington ?

janbb's avatar

I can only think @john65pennington misinterpreted the question somehow.

SpatzieLover's avatar

@janbb I agree. He’s one of the sweetest people here. I take no offense to anything he said

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