Participatory and inclusive approaches to disability program evaluation
Robinson, S in press, 'Participatory and inclusive approaches to disability program evaluation', Australian Social Work.
Some evaluations of disability programs now apply participatory methods to include people with cognitive disability in the collection of data. However, more inclusive approaches that engage people with cognitive disability more fully in the decisions about the evaluation remain rare. We examined why this may be the case, using Weaver and Cousin's criteria for inclusive evaluation to measure the depth of inclusion of our methods in an evaluation that we did that included people with cognitive disability. We found that the participatory methods in the design supported some of the dimensions of inclusive evaluation–diversity, depth of participation, power relations, and manageability. Relying on other people to represent the interests of people with cognitive disability in the governance, data collection, and dissemination compromised the control dimension of inclusion. Resources and commitment to build the capacity of people with cognitive disability as team members, mentors, advisers, and direct participants is required to make inclusion feasible and an expectation in disability program evaluations.