Underpinning much thinking about quality of life is the concept of empowerment and giving disabled people a voice.
Assessment to determine whether adults with learning difficulties are having the best possible quality of life usually involves:
- Developing an understanding of what they think is of value (qualitative measures), and
- Using more objective criterion (quantitative measures) to see if particular initiatives are improving their quality of life.
See Cummins 1995, Schalock and Keith 1993 for more information.
A similar approach can be taken to assess the quality of life of some pupils with learning difficulties.
This method of assessment draws upon the social model of disability because it is:
- Is about understanding the benefits of a particular provision for children in terms of improvements in their quality of life
- Is rooted in children's perceptions of what is of value to them, and
- Seeks to understand children's views, e.g. what do they enjoy doing, who do they like, what do they want to do in the future.
Watch this video clip. It shows pupils in an intensive support centre. Pupils in this unit have autistic spectrum conditions and find it difficult to learn in a special school classroom. Much of their day is directed by adults. At choice time pupils are encouraged to choose what they would like to do and to do it as independently as possible.
Cummins, R. (1995) On the trail of the gold standard for life satisfaction, Social Indicators Research, 38, 179-200.
Schalock, R. and Keith, K. (1993) Quality of Life Questionnaire, Worthington, OH:IDS Publishing Corporation.