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Surveying a Special Population: Understanding Accessible Design in the Subsidized Housing Sector

By: Published: 2017 | Product: SAGE Research Methods Cases in Health
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As a Mathematics of Information Technology and Complex Systems Accelerate intern, my task was to undertake research specific to the business needs of two government agencies. Although they focused on similar variables to do with the housing sector in Canada, the organizations differed in scale and context (e.g., a federal vs provincial focus toward housing policy). Thus, choosing a topic with the potential to inform each organization was prudent. Meetings between me, a Mathematics of Information Technology and Complex Systems representative, and representatives from each organization occurred early to decide on a topic of concentration. Out of this participatory process emerged the following question: how do accessible design features relate to residential satisfaction and aging in place for individuals living in subsidized housing? We collected data from tenants of subsidized housing units with and without accessible design features across British Columbia using a questionnaire concerning satisfaction and ease of use in the unit’s bathroom, kitchen, bedroom, and the unit overall. Frequent communication with building managers of each housing complex was essential to ensure a strong response rate, a sense of trust, and an efficient management of monetary incentives used to recruit participants. This study afforded the two government organizations new information about how a special population experiences accessible design at home. I hope it has informed researchers and policy-makers working for the two organizations in making decisions and maintaining communication strategies with those in the field who manage and care for the people and buildings in the subsidized housing sector.

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