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  • NCI is proud to announce another guest blog post for the NCI blog!

    This post was prepared by Beth Aura Miller from CT DDS .

    Beth Aura Miller has been a Self Determination Director for the State of Connecticut, Department of Developmental Services for fourteen years. In this position Beth Aura has supported the CT DDS in promoting the Self Determination movement through policy change, statewide initiatives to promote self-direction and self-advocacy for all individuals with developmental disabilities. She works with J CT DDS Self Advocate Coordinators to assist people in having a voice in CT.

    Connecticut employs several self-advocates as NCI surveyors. This blog post can serve as a guide for anyone (self-advocates included) who conducts NCI surveys. 

    If you're interested in engaging self-advocates in the NCI process in your state, please contact Dorothy at NCI, ( She can put you in touch with our contacts in several states who can tell you how they've been able to include self-advocates in the NCI process.  


    Feeling Comfortable as an NCI Interviewer

    You have just been invited to be an interviewer for the NCI survey. Your first question might be, why me? Your second thought might be, great I get to meet someone new!

    Being an interviewer for the NCI Survey can be a fabulous experience. You have the opportunity to meet amazing people that have wonderful stories to share. You have a chance to find out how they view their supports and services. You get to hear their voice and find out what they think!

    Setting up the NCI meeting may seem like a big task but really it is just making that first phone call.

    1. Be prepared that not everyone will have a way to communicate on the phone. Family or a support person may be the one on the other end of the phone letting you know that the person you want to speak to is non-verbal
    2. Be Positive and reassuring to the person the importance of promoting everyone’s voice
    3. Ask about their form of communication. How do they know what they like or dislike?
    4. Provide information about the survey - The First section of the survey is the individual’s response only. BUT you are willing to use any form of communication the person is comfortable using. Communication Board, Pictures, IPAD, Speech Talkers, etc.
    5. The second section of the survey can be done with their support person
    6. If the person on the phone is a support or family member, encourage them to be part of the second part of the survey and they are welcome to assist the individual to have a VOICE then. They are more than welcome to be present during the face-to-face NCI meeting.
    7. Ask the person where they feel most comfortable meeting. Sometimes they like to meet in their own home or they may enjoy meeting you at the local coffee shop – your treat!
    8. Once you have decided on a comfortable meeting place, make sure the time of day that you are meeting is best for the person. Everyone has busy schedules and as the interviewer we need to be accommodating.

    Day of your NCI Meeting – Relax it is just a conversation!

    1. Introduce yourself and thank the person for meeting with you. Ask if the person has any questions for you before you begin.
    2. Take your time when you arrive to do your survey. Make sure you are both comfortable before you begin.
    3. If you are aware of any specific communication supports the person needs to answer the questions, make sure they are in place before you begin.  You may want to bring pictures with you to assist in explaining the questions and assisting in getting their answers.
    4. Ask all the questions, but remind the person it is ok not to answer questions and that there are no right or wrong answers.
    5. Be neutral; do not lead the person or give your opinion; for instance, avoid asking “you can choose your daily schedule, right?” You should not look at or point to specific pictures or other forms of communication as not to influence the person’s response.
    6. If the person is non-verbal remember to:
      1. Talk to the person as you would anyone else.
      2. Use any form of accommodation allowing the person to feel safe and comfortable in talking with you.
      3. Provide alternative ways to ask and answer questions

    Not everyone feels comfortable being an interviewer for the NCI Survey but once you realize what a wonderful experience it can be, relax, breathe and enjoy getting to know another person with a voice!