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SURVEY MEASUREMENT OF WORK DISABILITY: Summary of a Workshop
sider a continuum ranging from “extremely well” to “not at all.” Performance could then be defined as performance of activities with all types of assistance. Respondents could be asked whether they do the activity with any type of assistance and, if yes, what kind of assistance. This type of question sequence would allow researchers to understand the types of assistance or environmental accommodation that facilitates the performance of an activity. Such an approach allows people an opportunity to express their views of their level of performance using available assistance and technology.
Environment also alters an individual's perception of disability. For example, the number of applications for SSI and SSDI benefits often varies as a function of the economy, suggesting that individual perceptions may, in part, be a function of the labor force options available. The passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act most likely will change the social climate concerning disabilities and entitlements of persons with disabilities; hence, over time, there may be an increase in the number of individuals who classify themselves as disabled.
Workshop participants expressed concern about the validity of the perspective of the respondent as reporter of the environment, as well as the validity of reports of the environment provided by proxy respondents. To alleviate these concerns, participants recommended comparison of both self-reports and proxy reports of the environment with unbiased measures of the environment to provide empirical data on the validity of the reports by the two types of respondents. For example, work environments could be sampled by trained observers who rate the environment and by comparisons of those ratings with reports obtained from self-reporters and proxy respondents.
To understand the tasks associated with a particular occupation, rather than looking only at how able-bodied people perform the task, the manner in which people with disabilities perform the task should be examined. Such information could be incorporated into the Occupational Information Network (O*NET) to determine whether other individuals with similar scores are participating in a particular occupation.
The presence of others during a survey changes the environment of the measurement, and may affect the reporting of disabilities.