The qualifying game: A search for services by individuals with disabilities
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Increasing attention has been paid over the last decade to enhancing the quality of the everyday lives of individuals with disabilities. Quality of life is maximized when an individual is integrated into society, can participate in decisions that impact their life, and has access to adequate services. Self-determination is a central element in the multifaceted construct of quality of life (Schalock, 1996; Wehmeyer & Schwartz, 1998). The purpose of this study was to illustrate the dynamics among the constructs of quality of life, self-determination, service provision and what participants in this study labeled "the qualifying game." This study was part of a larger Project of National Significance conducted by the Texas Planning Council on Developmental Disabilities (1996) that used a focus group technique in order to obtain in-depth interview information about the experiences, needs, and life issues of persons with severe, chronic disabilities, and their families. Sixty-seven individuals who represented a variety of ethnic and cultural groups, as well as a wide array of disabilities, were participants in these focus groups. A grounded theory methodology (Strauss & Corbin, 1990) was used to analyze the qualitative data and to derive central categories. Results found were that self-determination, along with other components of quality of life, was highly dependent on the acquisition and maintenance of necessary support services. What is suggested is that quality of life is only possible when individuals with severe, chronic disabilities have access to essential services.