Creating Inclusive Volunteer Opportunities for Individuals with DisabilitiesApril 16, 2018
Every day, Americans with and without disabilities spend their time and energy making a difference in the lives of people in their community. In 2015, about 62.6 million people volunteered in their communities. People with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) serve their communities in many ways. However, sometimes, people with I/DD do not have as many opportunities to volunteer in the community as they would like. This can happen due to a lack of experience or knowledge of volunteer groups to support people with I/DD to volunteer, inaccessible activities, lack of knowledge by the person with I/DD about activities, and even a societal perception or attitude that people with disabilities can only receive services rather than provide them.
In 2017, The Arc developed inclusive volunteer webpages to highlight volunteer efforts occurring around the country. These webpages share pictures and stories of volunteering efforts as well as provides practical tips and resources to support people with I/DD, family and friends, disability professionals, and volunteer groups to develop inclusive volunteering opportunities. Some recent resources created include:
- My Volunteer Vision, a plain language document people with disabilities and families can use to identify what types of volunteer activities a person is interested in.
- Tips to Overcome Common Challenges, a tip sheet for disability professionals to use to address common challenges professionals face in fostering inclusive volunteer opportunities for people they serve.
- Planning for Including People with Intellectual Disabilities in Volunteer Programs, a tip sheet for volunteer coordinators to use to make sure that people with I/DD feel welcomed in any program. While many sites may discuss how to successfully outreach to people with disabilities, it is critical to make sure that once you have identified a potential volunteer, that they feel welcomed to take part in the program.