Inclusive Programs and Service Environments

What is an inclusive service environment?

Creating an inclusive service environment is challenging, thought provoking, and rewarding. It is a continuous process that will become an integral part of all that you do, from kick-offs to celebrations, from recruitment to retention, from policy to practice. It benefits individuals with disabilities and those without. It guides those who are served and those who serve, those who direct and advise, and those who lead.

What are the elements of an inclusive service environment?

In an inclusive service environment persons with disabilities are welcomed and are valued for their contributions as individuals. The presence of a disability is not seen as a detriment, but instead is valued as part of the range of diversity that exists in the human condition.

An inclusive service environment starts with the individuals who are already in that environment. A program manager who thinks first about what someone can do is sure to be more inclusive than one who thinks about an individual's limitations. A program manager who uses "people first" language is already aware that individuals with physical or mental limitations are people before they are disabled. A program manager who leads by example, who provides training in disability awareness, and who works to ensure equal expectations and contributions will be more successful in creating an inclusive service environment than one who does not.

What is "people first" language and how do I use it?

How should I interact with people with disabilities?