Purpose: The purpose of this qualitative study was to describe the perceived quality of life (PQOL) of adults with significant disabilities who were living in community settings. Methods: Six male and six female volunteers (mean age 48 years, standard deviation 14 years), half with developmental and half with acquired disabilities, were interviewed about their quality of life. The interviews were audio-taped and transcribed verbatim. Text units were identified in the narrative data and were coded, sorted, and entered in an Index Tree. Data analysis utilized the Constant Comparison Technique with underlying themes emerging in 11 areas. Results: The highest PQOL was noted in Health and Housing; the lowest in Transportation/Physical Accessibility and Employment. Deficits in Transportation/Physical Accessibility compromised PQOL in other areas. In regards to employment, seasonal, part-time and occasional work were common, and assistive technology and computers were rarely used to enhance employment capabilities. PQOL depended on the availability of appropriate supports and services, and tended to differ between those with developmental and those with acquired disabilities. Conclusion: Policy makers and advocacy groups could best improve the PQOL for those with severe disabilities by facilitating transportation and employment services.
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