Amicus making feedback easier

Posted July 18, 2011, at 6:02 p.m.
Denis Cranson (from left), Matt Drinkert, Billy Neal and Paula Matlins work together to develop more ways for participants in Amicus programs to give feedback on how the programs do in serving them.
Photo courtesy of Amicus
Denis Cranson (from left), Matt Drinkert, Billy Neal and Paula Matlins work together to develop more ways for participants in Amicus programs to give feedback on how the programs do in serving them.

BANGOR, Maine — Amicus has always tried to use feedback from people connected to its programs for men and women with disabilities. For the past two years, staff members have gone further to make satisfaction and opinion surveys more accessible and understandable for those with a range of learning levels and communication styles.

To be understood and to communicate are fundamental to living a fulfilling life. Because many individuals at Amicus have little or no verbal language, and many cannot read, Amicus took up the challenge to design creative ways to listen and learn.

Drawing on the extensive use of American Sign Language and other ways to communicate, Amicus began a yearlong process.

Billy Neal, an impressive young man with cerebral palsy at the Bouchea Center, conducted trainings and led participants of each of Amicus seven programs as they worked with Denis Cranson, compliance director; Paula Matlins, Community Life Program director; and Matt Drinkert, Language Access facilitator.

Their role in development of questions using clearer wording, American Sign Language in video form and easily understood picture symbols will allow nearly 300 participants in Amicus’ seven programs to express their opinions and affect programs developed with their important participation.

This effort, along with the Amicus Writing Project at Bouchea Center, the Penobscot Valley Industries and Ralph Leek Elders Art and Photography projects, the effective employment programs at Phoenix and Pathways and the behavioral approach of Christina Petersen, were included in the recent in-depth CARF accreditation survey.

All seven programs received the highest level of accreditation by the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities. This is the 24th year of accreditation for Amicus.

Heidi Godsoe, executive director, said that Amicus has a culture of continuous learning and high expectations, and intends to adhere to world-class standards and set a few of its own along the way.

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