March 31, 2009

VSU Sociology Studies City's Accessibility Options

VALDOSTA - Valdosta State University’s Sociology Department has partnered with the Mayor’s Council for Persons on Disabilities to study the accessibility of city services for the disabled.

An undergraduate sociology class and a graduate applied sociology class are surveying the local community as well as city employees to gather feedback regarding their experiences. Community members with disabilities who use City of Valdosta services are encouraged to fill out an online questionnaire, which is available at . Those without Internet access may call (229) 333-5488 (V/TTY) for alternate options.

Dr. Ginger Macheski and Dr. Kathe Lowney, both sociology professors at VSU, are serving as principal investigators for the project. Their questionnaire will be posted through April and all participants’ information will remain confidential. They will also be conducting interviews with key city employees, Macheski said.

The professors will guide their students through evaluating the feedback received, quantifying their results and making recommendations to the Mayor’s Council. A written report will also be provided to the mayor and other city officials, who will use this study as part of a larger project to address accessibility needs for local citizens with disabilities. Macheski said Human Resources Director Charlie Felts III is especially interested in recommendations for new accessibility training opportunities.

“Our applied sociology students are getting to experience what a research project really is like - the joys, the lows, the waiting - and are excited by this opportunity to help our community to grow and change,” Lowney said. “Their enthusiasm to help and to learn has been infectious. We are grateful to the mayor and the Mayor's Council for Persons with Disabilities for giving our students this opportunity to tackle a research project on their behalf.”

Macheski and Lowney will also present the study during the annual meeting of the Society for the Study of Social Programs, as a model for student/faculty/community cooperation.

E-mail with any questions about the project and its goals.

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