The Self Expressed Needs of Physically Handicapped Persons Living in Iowa During 1976
The Problem. The purpose of this study was to determine the self-expressed needs of physically handicapped persons living in the State of Iowa during 1976. Procedure. A questionnaire was designed by the contributions of handicapped persons exclusively. The questionnaire was then distributed to six hundred physically disabled persons residing in the state of Iowa. The names and addresses of these persons were supplied by the Iowa Easter Seal Society from a list of clients who corresponded with the agency. Respondents were asked to indicate five problems they encountered which limited them the most in their efforts to live a normal and satisfying life. These five problems were chosen from a list of twenty-one problems which other groups of handicapped persons had identified in various conferences in the United States and Canada. The respondent had the option of identifying a need or problem not included on the list. As part of the questionnaire each respondent indicated his or her age, sex, degree of disability (mild, moderate, or severe), length of disability, resident community population and educational level (0-11 years of education, high school graduate. technical school training, some college education, college graduate). Findings. A total of 261 questionnaires were returned (44%). There were two hundred fifty unsable questionnaires. The composite rank order of needs along with the percentage of the sample population who identified each need follows; income security (48 percent), information needs (45.6 percent), architectural barriers (37.6 percent), transportation (28 percent), health services (27.2 percent), recreation (25.6 percent), social acceptance (25.2 percent), insurance (24.4 percent), home care (23.6 percent), political representation (23.2 percent), legal services (21.2 percent), personal adjustment (17.6 percent), housing (17.2 percent), vocational education (16.8 percent), employment (14 percent), family problems (12 percent), sexual adjustment (10.4 percent), caseworkers (8 percent), special equipment (7.6 percent), education (7.2 percent), institutionalization (4.4 percent). Rank-orders of needs were established for each of the categories of disabled persons identified in the questionnaire. These included rankings by age, sex, degree of disability, length of disability, population of resident community, and educational background of respondents. Each of these rank-orders varied from the composite hierarchy in regard to one or two important needs. Conclusions. Three basic conclusions could be drawn from this study. First, there are some common needs which disabled persons living in Iowa perceived as obstacles in their attempt to live a normal life. Income security, information concerning services or regulations for the handicapped, architectural barriers, transportation and health care proved to be the most vital of such needs. Second, factors such as age, sex, degree of disability, length of disability, education, and population of resident community seem to influence perceptions of needs enough to justify a further study of such relationships. Third, handicapped persons living in Iowa are, with few exceptions, in agreement with handicapped persons residing in the state of Massachusetts in terms of their perceived needs. Recommendations. Further research should include a descriptive and comparative analysis of the financial conditions of handicapped persons living in Iowa. Also a study to discover what the most troublesome architectural barriers are in specific geographic locations in Iowa would be of direct aid to disabled persons, as would a study regarding adequacy of health care services in Iowa. Self concept studies, particularly among younger handicapped persons, could be of value to counselors and educators. A further investigation of significance would be to compare and contrast the perceptions of needs of the disabled held by professionals working with them and those of disabled persons themselves. Finally, since each need was not identified as of extreme concern by all of the respondents if could be revealing to analyze how those persons who did not identify a need as crucial coped with the problem.
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