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SILC-NET Presents….

NEEDS ASSESSMENT FOR STATEWIDE INDEPENDENT LIVING COUNCILS

Hand-outs to Accompany a Needs Assessment Workshop

Facilitated by

James W. Altschuld, Professor Emeritus

The Ohio State University

January 9, 2012

Houston, Texas

THE CASE OF THE POKEY ELEVATORS

Once upon a time, a very responsible manager of a twenty-story office building in New York City was besieged by complaints from his tenants. “The elevators are too slow,” they complained in a chorus. Being a responsible manager, he immediately called an engineering firm to have a look at the problem. During a preliminary discussion, this rough floor plan was drawn.

|Office |Corridor |Office |
|Office | |Elev. |Office |
|Office | | |Office |
|Office | |Office |

[Description: Four adjacent offices are lined up on the left, a central corridor goes up the middle of the space, and there are four offices on the right with a bank of elevators in front of two of the offices.]

After an exhaustive study utilizing stopwatches and traffic flow charts, the engineering firm gave him a proposal for the installation of two newer and faster elevators in the existing shafts. The price tag was $100,000 for an average time gain of 3.35 minutes from top to bottom for each elevator. This shaved an average of twenty seconds off the waiting time on each floor. “My, that’s a lot of money,” he said, “and twenty seconds is not a lot of time. I’ll let you know.”

Since he was also responsible to the building owners, he called another firm. After another exhaustive study, they made their proposal. What he should do, they said, was leave the present elevators alone and add two new elevators at the ends of the central corridor like this:

[Description: Two new elevators are placed at either end of the central corridor.]

This solution, they said, would cost a little more, $150,000 to be precise, but would save tenants much more time, i.e., an average of 35 seconds shaved off the waiting time on each floor. “My, that would do the trick,” he said uneasily, “but, I will have to consult the owners. I’ll let you know.”

Now, this is the sad part. He knew the owners would not spend that much, and the complaints were growing louder and more angry. In a fever he went to the Yellow Pages looking for someone to help him with his problem. His eyes skimmed down the page:

― “Probabilities”

― “Probers”

― “Problem Consultants”

“That’s what I need,” he said, “a problem consultant!” He quickly dialed the number.

Now this problem consultant was a strange dude. He practically went to sleep while the building manager described the problem and for the next couple of days, he wandered aimlessly through the building doing nothing as far as the building manager could see. On the third day, he wandered into the manager’s office and slouched into a chair.

“Well,” he began, “you told me that your problem was slow elevators. What that said to me was that your solution to tenant complaints was faster elevators. But that wasn’t really your problem. What those folks were trying to tell you is that they are bored stiff while waiting for the elevators. That’s your real problem.”

So for less than $1,000, mirrors were installed beside the elevators on every floor. Women straightened their hair, men their ties. There were no more complaints.

From L.N. Davis & E. McCallon (1974), Planning, Conducting, and Evaluating Workshops. Learning Concepts: Austin, TX.

Concerns---Needs---Solutions (Lange, Fox, & Spiess, undated)

Each of the following statements was taken from among those gathered in a large “needs-assessment” study, focused on needs of students. Among them are statements which may be appropriately described as “concerns” or problems. Others are “needs” in that they point out discrepancies. Still others may be thought of as “solutions.”

Indicate by marking C (concern). N (needs) or S (solution) as to how you would classify the statements below. (Statements 1, 2, and 3 will serve as examples.):

|C |1. |Schools inadequately prepare students for occupations. |
|N |2. |Sixty percent of students in the Centerville vocational high schools receive vocational training which does not |
| | |meet the standards of the American Vocational Society. |
|S |3. |The Centerville Board of Education needs to allocate funds to purchase sophisticated electronic equipment for its|
| | |vocational school shops. |

| |4. |There is a need for more computerized learning to individualize instruction. |
| |5. |Student performance on standardized tests can be improved by expanding team teaching to every elementary class. |
| |6. |To function in advanced technological society, students need to have high-level reading skills. |
| |7. |More than half the seventh grade students in Columbiana are reading below grade level. |
| |8. |Contemporary students need to have more interest in social problems. |
| |9. |Classroom teachers need to develop teaching methodologies which are adaptable to the needs of each individual |
| | |pupil. |
| |10. |The opportunity for each child to develop to his/her capacity must be provided by the schools. |
| |11. |While the goal of our school is that every child needs to perform at least at grade level, 30% of our elementary |
| | |school pupils are below grade level in their math scores. |
| |12. |The teacher’s schedule should be arranged so that ½ hour each week can be spent in a private conference with each|
| | |student. |
| |13. |Half the graduates of Emerson High School are unable to fill out employment applications satisfactorily. |
| |14. |Students need to be grouped by ability for instructional purposes. |
| |15. |Johnny can’t read. |
| |16. |Schools need to use phonics in the teaching of reading to improve first graders’ performance. |

Examples related to SILCs

|What is Status? |What Should be Status? |
|Number of persons with disabilities employed is too low |A minimum of 50% employed |
|Every consumer doesn’t have access to a mentor or a counselor |Availability of trained mentors (volunteer/ paid) should be increased |
|Disproportionate understanding of urban/rural independent living |More study is necessary for state & local agencies in this regard |
|populations | |
|As individuals age family support for IL (transportation, health, etc.) |Family support for IL should be examined in greater depth |
|diminishes | |
|IL population is employed more in workshops than in the private sector |More effort is necessary to change the situation |
|Older and younger persons are not differentiated enough in terms of |Examine closely what age & groups of conditions require in services |
|services | |
|Pay scales not commensurate with other workers doing the same or similar |Better pay for work and services provided |
|work | |
|Counselors and mentors do not understand how to access job networks |Over the next two years 75% will receive training re: career |
| |counseling |
|High rates of employee turnover have been observed in Centers for |Incentives/pay upgrades but not likely to change given budgetary |
|Independent Living |conditions |

Examples related to SILCs

|What is Status? |What Should be Status? |
|Job skills training/opportunities in short supply for service providers |ID training in agencies/universities and coordinate for providers |
|OTJ mentoring programs not well established |Explore situation and set up system and training for OTJ mentors |
|State computer job system is updated but not fast enough nor for IL |Review of system to see ways to improve its real time operation |
|participants | |
|Coordination of services for independent living is not well done across |Mechanisms that tie agencies & departments together for a more |
|state |comprehensive/effective system |
|Employers not knowledgeable about hiring individuals with disabilities |Appropriate employer training leading to measurable changes in hiring and|
|particularly in regard to accommodations if necessary |retention |
|The role of the SILC relative to the state office of rehabilitation |A working MOU clarifying how entities can best relate to each other |
|services is not clear to both parties | |

Generating Needs for Different Levels

Provide at least three or four entries (more would be better) in bullet or short phrase form for the ‘what is’, ‘what should be’, and ‘what is likely’ conditions for either Levels 1, 2, or 3.

|Level |What is? |What should be? |What is likely? |
|Level 1 – Service Recipients | | | |
|Level 2 – Service Providers | | | |
| | | | |
| | | | |
|Level 3 – System that Supports| | | |
|Levels 1 and 2 | | | |
Worksheet for Selecting the Needs Assessment Committee (NAC) and Starting the Process

Reflect on your local situation and the nature of the NA to be undertaken.

NAC members should:

• be able to work well in groups yet be willing to state their ideas and perceptions in an open and frank manner;

• represent ideally key groups of stakeholders, have a reputation for getting things done, and be able to influence their organization; and

• know or have sense of where information and data is located and how to access it or individuals to whom they might turn to collect important sources.

1. What persons and groups should be involved?

|Persons (titles/positions) | |What can they contribute? |
| | | |
| | | |
| | | |
| | | |
| | | |
| | | |
| | | |
| | | |

2. Why should they be involved and how will you convince them to participate? Commitment to the enterprise (doing the necessary activities, attending meetings, collecting information, preparing for meetings, etc.) is critical – how will you set the ground rules and develop that commitment?

Also think about how this might apply to organizations working collaboratively on needs when issues of turf come into play and the need to see a benefit to their organizational situation. Why might they decline to be involved?

3. How large should your NAC be and how will you organize them to conduct Phase 1 activities? How will you organize to do work? What might be a possible schedule to try to follow?

4. What would be some of the things you might do at the first meeting or in preparation for it? What information would you provide to the NAC before or at the meeting? How might you get them into the Concerns sheet type of thinking (priming the pump)?

5. A host of other considerations.

Steps in the Nominal Group Technique

1. Keep in mind that this is a small group procedure (7-10 participants is best)

2. Carefully select participants

3. Provide a brief introduction to the topic (2 minutes or so)

4. State rules indicating that discussion occurs only at the end

5. Silent Brainstorming

Participants silently brainstorm ideas or thoughts in regard to prompt

Instruct them to list a minimum number but more is desirable in short phrase form

Wait until you see that writing is basically done or slowing down a lot

6. Group Round Robin

Facilitator asks first participant for their first idea – just the idea not a justification or explanation of it

List it on the board

Ask group members how many had that idea or a similar one

- keep a running tab of how many expressed an idea

- participants cross off their list ideas that were similar or the same with others

Go to the next participant and ask for their next idea and then repeat the above process until no ideas are left

No discussion occurs in the group round robin

7. Clarification or combination of ideas

Facilitator notes entries that are unclear or very similar

Asks person who proposed it for brief clarification or asks group if it could be combined with another

Combine as feasible to shorten overall list

When asking about an entry do not ask for a justification of it but simply a brief clarification – this is very important

8. Rank ordering the list

Each individual silently rank orders the items by means

-simple ranks if list is not too long (20 or under)

-rule of three

-double pass

-zero sum game

-many ways are possible

Record group rankings

9. Group enters into a discussion of rankings and items

10. Many possibilities for using results

Presented to the 2012 SILC Congress by the SILC-NET, a part of the IL NET national training and technical assistance project for centers for independent living (CIL-NET) and statewide independent living councils (SILC-NET). The IL NET is operated by Independent Living Research Utilization (ILRU) at TIRR Memorial Hermann in partnership with the National Council on Independent Living (NCIL) and the Association of Programs for Rural Independent Living (APRIL). The SILC-NET is funded by the U.S. Department of Education, Rehabilitation Services Administration under grant number H132B070002. No official endorsement by the Department of Education of these materials should be inferred.
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