Community Counts! A Diversity Partnership Program – Strengthening Our Community to Include People with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (I/DD) demonstrated inclusive opportunities for Denver residents with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) through curriculum design and delivery, outreach, and program consultation for organizations, businesses and clubs in the Denver Metro area.
The 2021 – 2022 Community Counts! Project is completed. Each panelist participated in a Presentation Skills class in preparation for these sessions. Five mentors were selected from Phase one of this program and they attended the Presentation Skills class with their mentees in Phase two in addition to their own Mentoring training program.
The classes included a speaker/trainer and a panel of individuals with I/DD who shared their thoughts and life experiences. Here’s a recap of the classes:
1) “Diversity and Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities 101” class was for community members who were interested in expanding their knowledge of the diagnosis of Intellectual and Development Disabilities (I/DD) and various life experiences of people with I/DD.
Description: Course covered such topics as Person First Language, the variety of medical and cognitive issues experienced, myths and misconceptions about people with I/DD, issues impacting people with I/DD such as fair wages, housing, etc., and services that could be helpful or desired.
2) “Diversity and IDD 201: Radical Civility” was for community members who were interested in expanding their knowledge of diversity concepts as they relate to I/DD and built upon the Diversity and I/DD 101 course.
Description: Course covered disability etiquette, use of appropriate language (what to say and NOT say), and how to effectively and respectfully communicate with a person with disabilities as well as how to treat people with I/DD. This was an informative and eye-opening session!
3) “Inclusion in Employment” was designed for employers and potential employers of jobseekers with I/DD.
Description: Course introduced businesses and employers in Denver to the Employment First vision and provided participants information about recruiting, hiring, training and supervising employees with I/DD. In the session, panel members and participants identified concepts, supports, and resources that may be needed for a successful company strategy to include people with I/DD in the workplace.
4) “Inclusion and Engagement in Community Life” was for a variety of community organizations striving to be more inclusive of people with disabilities, and specifically people with I/DD.
Description: Course engaged community organizations and clubs on not only including people with I/DD and other disabilities in their activities but improving internal operations and adopting best practices to ensure people with I/DD and their families are welcomed and encouraged to actively participate in day- to- day activities or special events. Inclusive practices and strategies were explored.
5) “Access to Community Services” was for a variety of community service providers, such as transportation, housing, builders, health/medical with a desire to provide improved access to their services.
Description: Course included information from the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), discussed practical strategies to ensure and improve access, presented case studies of best practice access in contrast with access that only meets a bare minimum or needs improvement. Participants were engaged in problem solving throughout the class.
In depth follow up consultations were offered to 12 organizations, businesses, or clubs (OBCs) and are completed. These consultations included a three hour individualized consultation and two hours of follow up. Consultations were offered by ZOOM and conference calls. Consultations provided support and helped participants obtain the knowledge and skills to include people with I/DD into activities in a meaningful way. Consultations extended to matching a person with I/DD to become an employee, sit on a board, get involved in a diversity committee, etc. Consultations also included discussion of mentorships (either connecting consulted organizations to existing leaders in inclusion or encouraging consulted organizations to mentor others on starting inclusive initiatives).
All trainings and consultations were funded by local mill levy dollars and were provided at no cost to participants.