R-6: Personal and Environmental Factors Influencing Community Living for People with Disabilities


Participation in society is critical to the well-being and citizenship of persons with disabilities. Most of the research that’s been done on community participation addresses the questions of what is participation, and how can we predict it?  That is, it focuses on the “what” and the “when” of participation. Our recent work, however, has added to this by exploring the aspect of the place where participation takes place - the “where.” This new study adds to the state-of-the-art by using an ecological framework to conceptualize and measure the community sites where participation takes place.

Purpose of the Study 

The purpose of this research is to explore and further understand community participation of individuals with disabilities by examining relationships between community participation and community living and environmental facilitators. These environmental factors include personal (demographic) factors, health-related, geographic and impairment factors.

To do this we will further mine a collected dataset that used the Characteristics of the Respondent (CORE) and Survey of Participation and Receptivity in the Community (SPARC), which were created under the RTC/MICL.

In this study we will identify the combination of individual characteristics and environmental features that relate to community participation by people with mobility, visual or hearing impairments. Objectives are:

1. Identifying which community sites are visited and which are not

2. Understanding why consumers do not visit particular community sites

3. Identifying the physical and attitudinal factors that influence community participation

4. Determining the relationship between demographic factors and community participation 

5. Understanding the distance that consumers travel to visit community sites and the transportation involved to do so.

Anticipated Benefits 

The proposed intervention will address the core problems that are barriers to full community participation by people with disabilities. The findings of this study can provide foundational information for making changes in access and community supports.

By understanding which contributors are key to facilitating participation at often-visited community sites, communities and people with disabilities will understand which factors make a difference in full participation. Among the key factors may be age, race, ethnicity, income, residence, geographic location, transportation, living with others, and the availability, accessibility and affordability of services in the community.

Equally important is the information that will be derived about the reasons for not visiting specific community sites.

Methods and Hypotheses

The study will test this hypothesis:

Individuals with mobility impairments who use mobility enhancing devices, those who have visual impairments and those who are hard of hearing will differ on many factors, including: 1) frequency of visiting community sites, 2) their evaluation of community site visits, 3) reported reception at the community sites they visit, 4) amount of personal assistance they use to visit community sites, 5) reasons for not visiting community sites, 6) demographic factors, and 7) geographic factors.

More Information about the Design of the Research

Sample, Data Collection and Measurement, Data Analysis

Principal Investigator: David B. Gray, PhD