THE INCLUSION MODEL targeted to female and disabled law enforcement/police/military officers – The model can be applied to other topics and up-scaled
BACKGROUND: My experience in research and monitoring and evaluation (M&E) of international programs, and my knowledge of cross-cutting issues have allowed me to conceptualize a simple project, entitled ‘The Inclusion Model’. It is to be structured with the team members and then utilized to conduct applied research, analysis, and evaluation of the security officers’ experiences in the field. Special focus has to be given the women and the disabled and unemployed veterans in order to prevent their isolation and suicide.
REASON AND PURPOSE: ‘The Inclusion Model’ goal is to include both female disabled officers in the evaluation process in order to increase the accuracy of the information collected and the lessons learned, the relevance of the project to the community of interest and, as ultimate scope, the promotion of social justice by giving recipients a voice in decision making.
METHODOLOGY: A disability is a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities. Unfortunately, female officers who serve the United States can experience abuses and violence and this affects their psychological wellbeing until they are no more able to have a normal life when they get back home. Therefore putting some of them in control of research is necessary to shift the perspective from the simple medical model to the social model whereby disability becomes a problem in sociality and in establishing relationships. Obviously, there are several challenges that need to be faced, for example people with disabilities may not even recognize their own problem or may encounter a wide range of cognitive abilities or preferences for how to communicate. They could prefer writing instead of speaking and sometime words and concepts could be misleading or confusing to the researchers and evaluators. Thus it is important that researches are aware that obtaining a response from an interviewee does not necessarily mean that she or he understands exactly what has been asked, especially if the participants are not familiar with the evaluation techniques. In addition, some people with certain psychiatric disorders, such as bipolar or schizophrenia, demonstrate impairments in verbal and nonverbal communication as part of their condition (to be continued).
When diversity is present, a program evaluation can require greater resources but, if appropriately approached, officers who are experiencing disabilities, being psychological problems due to abuses or psychical issues, can be ready to open up if a participatory setting is created and described as knowledge sharing point to collect lessons learned and address positive recommendations for the future. In fact, by taking a role in evaluation, people with disabilities can influence the programs and projects and simultaneously become empowered to initiate community change in the future. Obviously, collaboration is successful when research roles are clearly defined and when stakeholders are involved early in the planning stages, are kept informed of important aspects of the project, and are provided proper training and support. To promote an environment of mutual learning and respect, it is helpful for team members to regularly reflect on power dynamics, provide frequent opportunities for informal discussions about the project and have more than one person with disabilities on the team (to be continued).
‘The Inclusion Model’ also takes into account the feasibility of inclusion: adequate tools, resources, evaluators’ training, participants’ characteristics, and program context. If perceived benefits are high, evaluators may be convinced that inclusion is worth investing in, even if it is perceived to be very costly. Alternatively, if a few meaningful benefits are expected, evaluators may be reluctant to devote even a small portion of resources to include recipients (to be continued).
Concluding, evaluators may encounter certain challenges to collect data in some contexts, and they have various strategies to draw on when this occurs. Involving other stakeholders and piloting data collection tools can help ensure the appropriateness of measurement procedures for the recipient population. Visiting or even taking part in the program can both build rapport with recipients and allow evaluators to better understand what evaluation procedures are appropriate to the context. Evaluators might need to actively seek out those quieter voices, either because of power dynamics in a program or because of the recipients’ communication styles (to be continued).
The validity of data collection methods should be studied further to ensure that recipient voices, when included, are accurately represented, especially in evaluations where this is the only way recipients are involved in. Evaluators should ensure that inclusion is designed strategically to achieve the desired goal of participation, and should focus energy and resources accordingly (to be continued).
Available at: https://www.slideshare.net/LauraGagliardone/the-inclusion-model-targeted-to-female-soldiers-and-disabled-veterans-laura-gagliardone