A participatory program evaluation of a systems change program to improve access to information technology by people with disabilities.

PURPOSE: To pilot-test and evaluate an innovative program providing information technology (IT) access to people with disabilities transitioning out of nursing homes into the community using a participatory approach.

METHODS: Pre- and post-training data was collected on the 61 program participants to reflect three broad areas related to the IT training experience: performance; self-efficacy; importance, satisfaction and control. Additionally, semi-structured interviews were conducted with seven participants and five members of the program staff to explore environmental barriers to IT access for this group and the efficacy of the program in addressing these barriers. Data analyses followed a mixed methods approach incorporating both qualitative and quantitative techniques.

RESULTS: Participants showed substantive changes in different spheres of IT use after completion of training. Post-training changes were significant particularly in areas related to self-efficacy, importance and satisfaction pertaining to use of IT. Qualitative findings substantiated the quantitative results and also revealed the numerous barriers to IT access that persons with disabilities continue to face within their communities. CONCLUSION: Results indicate the feasibility, effectiveness and value of IT access to people with disabilities particularly those transitioning from institutional life to community living. Further action research aimed at increasing IT access for this group within local communities and neighborhoods is needed to address this issue at a broader societal level.