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25 Ideas for the 25th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act

This year marks the 25th anniversary of the landmark Americans with Disabilities Act. CNCS is celebrating by highlighting 25 things you can do and learn to facilitate disability inclusion among national service programs by sharing key educational information and identifying action steps. We hope you will join us by sharing this information widely with your networks and take action as a way to celebrate the anniversary. 

Learn About Disability Inclusion

  1. Avoid presumptions about the capability of people with disabilities to serve. Ask them what they can do; focus on experience & abilities.

    Here are some ways you can do that:

  2. There’re more people with disabilities in your service program than you thought. Read the ADA definition, learn who’s covered.

  3. Making disability accommodations is not complex, consult JAN for assistance. The majority cost $0 and the average actual cost is $500. #JANatJAN

    • The Job Accommodation Network (www.askjan.org) is the free technical assistance provider for CNCS programs, employers, and people with disabilities. You can contact JAN any time with questions about making reasonable disability accommodations in your service program and broader disability questions as well.
    • Learn about the low cost and high impact of reasonable accommodation: http://askjan.org/media/lowcosthighimpact.html
  4. People with disabilities don’t require “special” opportunities, just reasonable accommodations to serve alongside other corps members.

  5. The Job Accommodation Network #JANatJAN, provides individualized disability accommodation consulting & tip sheets on most disabilities

    • The Job Accommodation Network (“JAN”) produces fact sheets on the majority of disabilities/ limitations. Check out this resource so you know where you can find helpful information to accommodate service members/volunteers with disabilities: https://askjan.org/links/atoz.htm
  6. Put members with disabilities on the front line, Dept. of Labor research shows the public prefers entities that do over those who don’t

    Look at the Department of Labor Office of Disability Employment Policy page for this finding and for more information: http://www.dol.gov/odep/topics/Employers.htm

  7. National Service provides pre-employment skill building for members with disabilities…your program’s disability inclusion matters

    • This joint letter released by CNCS & DOL’s office of Disability Employment Policy outlines the pre-employment skill building individuals with disabilities gain through national service: /about/pathway-to-employment

Take Action for Disability Inclusion

  1. Ask alumni & members with disabilities to share their service experiences #disabilityservicestories; contribute to the narrative

    • By sharing their experiences, alumni and current members with disabilities break through preconceived ideas about serving with disabilities. Read these spotlight blogs: /resources/disability-inclusion
    • Encourage those you know to share their stories via twitter. #disabilityservicestories
  2. Those supervising members:  take the 5 short ecourses to ensure preparedness for any disability-related issues during your next service term.

  3. Determine your service program’s accessibility: including  physical access, electronic communications, accommodation policy

    Prepare your program for making accommodations by creating an accommodation policy. Learn more about this at:

  4. Revisit your program’s core service functions. Ensure these focus on core tasks and don’t unnecessarily preclude people with disabilities

    • People are qualified for your program if they can perform the core functions of the service position with or without reasonable accommodations for a disability. Sometimes programs will include service functions that aren’t essential or required for all service members in the program.  Pulling the non-essential items from a service position description will mean that only truly essential functions remain. This makes it much easier to determine disability accommodations. For example, a program recently reviewed their corps member functions and realized that they could pull driving a car/having a driver’s license. While the program needed to ensure every service team had eligible drivers, this type of requirement may preclude someone who is otherwise able to perform all the service functions but are unable to drive because of a disability. The impact is that more individuals are qualified to become national service members in this program. 
    • Check out guidance on reviewing your position descriptions: http://askjan.org/media/jobdescriptions.html
  5. Review your member selection process and ensure this doesn’t screen out people with disabilities

    • All those involved in your selection process can benefit from reading “Disability Etiquette in the Workplace” – a fact sheet about selection process’ do’s and don’ts on disability. https://askjan.org/topics/disetiq.htm
  6. Share recruitment info w/people w/disabilities Voc Rehab, Center for Independent Living, College accommodation centers & disability orgs

  7. Foster a relationship with a contact that can connect you with potential candidates with disabilities each recruitment cycle

  8. Remember to ask candidates if they need accommodations during member selection interactions and interviews

  9. Front-load making accommodations: Add contact info for accommodations point person to your offer letter. Repeat at in-person training

    • The first moment supervisors can discuss disability accommodations is when offering a service position. By integrating the contact person for arranging accommodations in your program in your offer letter/email, you are ensuring you have the longest possible window of time to coordinate disability accommodations before the term begins. Reiterating the accommodation process at in-person training is helpful for those who have yet to disclose their disabilities.
  10. Making accommodations? Start out by discussing what’s worked well in similar circumstances with your members with disabilities

    • Those with disabilities are the most knowledgeable about their unique limitations, starting your accommodation dialogue with them will jumpstart making accommodations.Take the 15 minute ecourse on Making Reasonable Accommodations:  /resources/disability-inclusion
  11. Will the accommodation work? Try an original accommodation plan for a set period. Do a check-in with the member & improve it then

  12. Create staffing & service teams with members with disabilities fully integrated to serve alongside those without disabilities

  13. Educate fellow grantees by sharing your disability inclusion strategies & success stories on social media using #Service4All amd #GranteeInclusionStrategy & email them to disability@cns.gov

  14. Understand & communicate to members> HEART Act: SSI isn’t impacted by living allowance - SSDI is - unless you are serving with VISTA

    • Use the Dear Colleague letter CNCS  & DOL issued that addresses income exclusions for those on disability benefits as well as the other resources at the bottom of this letter: /about/pathway-to-employment
  15. Match members with disabilities (and those without) with a mentor who can offer support, guidance & problem-solve. Mentors=thriving

  16. If things aren’t running smoothly, include making (or tweaking) reasonable accommodations in your solution plan

    • Recognize that someone with a disability who isn’t accommodated properly may not perform to their full potential. There may be members in your program who have not disclosed disabilities because of fear, stigma or lack of understanding the process. Be a supportive supervisor and before you discipline a member, consider asking if there was something they needed to perform better. Approaching a struggling member with resources may be the positive change needed to bring out their best and avoid future issues.
  17. Track disability inclusion: encourage all members to complete a NEW optional disability question on exit surveys

  18. Service provides transferrable pre-employment experience. Share transition resources with the NEW ENOS toolkit for Alumni with disabilities.

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