Many volunteer programs are not comfortable including people with disabilities. Programs may not know or may worry that they won’t be able to support or accommodate to volunteers with disabilities or don’t know how to effectively communicate with people with disabilities.
However, there are many resources available to help volunteer programs learn how to better support and engage people with disabilities as volunteers.
Presume Competence, Be Precise, and Plan
People with disabilities have a variety of talents and gifts and give back to their community in many ways. If a person with a disability wants to volunteer in your program, presume that they can volunteer and contribute to your work, but be precise about what volunteering means at your organization. This tip sheet offers recommendations and an example plan that you can use to help support volunteers with disabilities in your program.
Take Courses and Get Tips on Disability Inclusion from the Corporation for National and Community Service
The Corporation for National and Community Service offers four 15-20 minute online courses as well as many practical tips on how volunteer programs can be more accessible and inclusive to people of all abilities. Each tip provides additional resources and tools that programs can easily use or amend for their program. Check out CNCS’s Disability Inclusion webpage!
Check Out These Fact Sheets on Engaging People with Disabilities
Making a volunteer program inclusive may mean changing your program. As you consider making your volunteer program more inclusive, you may find that you need to change how you recruit and train volunteers, how you support your volunteers, or even the physical places where you volunteer. These fact sheets from Volunteer Canada can give you tips on how you can make your program more inclusive, recruit volunteers with disabilities, and use technology effectively to support inclusive volunteering opportunities.
Connect with Your Local or State Chapter of The Arc
With more than 600 chapters across the country, The Arc and its chapter network support more than 1 million people with IDD and their families each year. Our chapters offer services and support to people with IDD and their families across the lifespan to help people and their families live, work, go to school, and participate in all aspects of their community. As a result, chapters of The Arc can guide and assist you on inclusive policies, procedures and practices to be more inclusive when you recruit, train, and support people with disabilities.