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Action Update: Disability Inclusion

“Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable... Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals."    - Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. 

An inclusive service environment is one that proactively seeks to include persons with disabilities, ensures that everyone can make a valued contribution, and weaves access and accommodations into all aspects of the program. Follow these tips for a more inclusive MLK Day: 

Making It A Barrier-Free Physical Environment

Adhering to the principles of universal design, all pathways, doors, rooms, restrooms, and kitchens should meet current accessibility standards to the greatest extent possible. Accessibility should be considered when planning opening and closing events, seeking meeting space, and evaluating service sites.  When placing furniture, equipment, and refreshments, consider how to design the space to ensure that persons with mobility, hearing, visual, and cognitive disabilities can use the space independently.

Project an Inclusive, Welcoming Environment

Include images of people with disabilities as service providers in your brochures, videos, and other materials. Insert a non-discrimination clause in your materials and make a clear statement of your willingness to provide accommodations. Prominently display inclusive images and signage at your program or site. 

Train Staff and Volunteers

Ensure that all staff and volunteers know how to provide information on and respond to requests regarding accessibility arrangements. 

Utilize Alternate Formats and Communication

Let the public know that you will provide materials in alternate formats and clearly display information in your materials about how the public can access these. Make sure that any videos you produce are captioned and audio-described. Familiarize your staff with your state relay services or your TDD/TTY number.

Treat People as Individuals

An inclusive service environment understands that every individual is just that – an individual. No two people experience disability in the same way. Two individuals with the same disability may have very different perspectives, attitudes, interests, backgrounds, and skills. An inclusive service environment sees individuals, not stereotypes.

Utilize National Service Disability Inclusion Resources

If your organization is funded through one of the national service programs—Senior Corps, AmeriCorps, or Learn and Serve America—funding may be available to assist with reasonable accommodation requests or to help make your venue accessible. Check with your State Service Commission Disability Coordinator for further information and also for expert advice and access to local disability organization networks.

You may also seek expert technical assistance from the National Service Inclusion Project (NSIP), the Corporation’s technical assistance provider for disability inclusion. Materials have been included as hyperlinks throughout this document to assist with your accessibility and accommodation planning and needs. If you have questions on any other access and inclusion topics, please contact NSIP by phone at 1-888-491-0326 (toll-free voice and TTY) or 617-287-4343 (direct line), or email nsip@umb.edu.

Additional resources including the guide: Inclusion: Creating an Inclusive Environment can be accessed by visiting www.serviceandinclusion.org and the Effective Practices Guide to Creating Inclusive and Accessible Days of Service (Rev) available at http://tools.ysa.org/downloads/modules/Effective_Practices_Guide_Inclusive_and_Accessible_Days_of_Service.pdf.

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