Researchers Exploring Disability Perceptions

Researchers at the University of Michigan are studying why some people identify themselves as disabled and others do not

Article Highlights:
  • Doctoral student Adena Rottenstein and colleagues are asking people with disabilities to answer a short (five-to-10-minute), Web-based, confidential questionnaire that focuses on how they perceive themselves and their disability.
  • Study participants will be offered a copy of the results and will be invited to suggest questions for future surveys.
by Margaret Wahl on June 1, 2011 - 4:30pm

Researchers at the Psychology of Disability Lab at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor are exploring the social identity of people with disabilities through a short, anonymous, Web-based questionnaire.

The lab's Disability Identity Project is being headed by principal investigator Adena Rottenstein, a doctoral candidate in psychology.

The study closes the week of Aug. 22, 2011.

About the study

"I'm curious about why some people identify as disabled and others do not," says Rottenstein, who notes that she herself has a disability and that most of the research assistants on this project do as well.

Doctoral student Adena Rottenstein wants to know more about what determines a person's perceptions of his or her disability.

She and her colleagues want to know, for instance, who perceives himself or herself as "disabled" and who does not; how the type of disability or impairment affects this choice; and how factors such as the disability's onset, severity and degree of visibility affect one's self-perceptions.

All information can be submitted anonymously, although Rottenstein says those who take the online survey and who volunteer their contact information can receive a copy of the results. Participants are also invited to suggest questions for future surveys.

"It's really important to me that my work is transparent and collaborative," she notes. Participants are invited to provide their names and email addresses if they wish to receive copies of the study results and/or information about future surveys. "However," Rottenstein says, "the contact information will be kept in a completely different data file so that participants' names can never be matched to their survey responses."

MDA is not affiliated with this study.

To participate

Read more about or fill out the "snapshot" survey. It should take five to 10 minutes to complete.

Editor's Note 8/23/11: This story was updated 8/23/11 to reflect that the study is closing the week of 8/22/11 and to remove outdated contact information.

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