Engaging Youth with Disabilities in Service
In an effort to allow everyone the opportunity for greatness, we encourage and challenge you to consider ways to involve volunteers with disabilities in your community service programming. It is imperative that we all begin to view individuals with disabilities as valuable, skilled resources rather than people who are only able to participate on the receiving end of community service.
Many obstacles can deter youth volunteers with disabilities from participating in regularly scheduled activities. Take the time to assess facilities and personnel for potential problems. Your outreach efforts are more likely to succeed if you are aware of disability-related issues that might arise in recruiting and working with youth; assess you program’s present strengths and weaknesses with respect to youth with disabilities; evaluate your staff’s sensitivity and train them accordingly, and acquaint yourself with resources that will help you learn more.
Staff Sensitivity Evaluation:
Sometimes the most difficult obstacles to surmount involve attitudes such as prejudice and stereotyping. Get a sense of your staff’s sensitivity to, and knowledge about, people with disabilities. These tools and techniques can help you establish your base line and begin your assessment:
- Scale of Attitudes towards Disabled Persons (SADP) is an initial measurement
- Disability Quotient Questionnaire (DQQ)
- Staff discussion of history and experiences with disabilities
Physical Site Assessment:
How accessible is your program for participants with various types of disabilities? Do architectural barriers hinder the movement of an individual with a disability? Are programs or activities inaccessible to volunteers with disabilities? Use these resources to find the answers:
- Americans with Disabilities Act Accessibility Guidelines (ADAAG)
- Access Measurement Tools
- Regional and national assistance centers
Getting on Track
Etiquette for working with youth with disabilities
The key to ensuring a successful service project experience for everyone is PUTTING PEOPLE FIRST. Volunteers with disabilities are no different. Like any volunteers, they want to give their time and energy to improve their community. An individual’s disability should only be considered to determine what accommodations will work best for that individual and allow them to give their all to the project.
Community service program planners and you development workers should help these youth:
1. Recognize, express and accept their feelings
2. Understand how others feel about and react to their disabilities
3. Be a teenager…who happens to be a person with a disability
Reprinted with the permission of Youth Service America. © 1996-2008 Youth Service America. All Rights Reserved.
Add your own comment
Today on Education.com
- Kindergarten Sight Words List
- The Five Warning Signs of Asperger's Syndrome
- What Makes a School Effective?
- Child Development Theories
- Why is Play Important? Social and Emotional Development, Physical Development, Creative Development
- 10 Fun Activities for Children with Autism
- Test Problems: Seven Reasons Why Standardized Tests Are Not Working
- Bullying in Schools
- A Teacher's Guide to Differentiating Instruction
- Steps in the IEP Process