In the U.S., we know the demographics are changing. The U.S. is home to an increasing number of culturally diverse individuals. Trends in immigration and birth rates indicate that by 2050 there will be no majority racial or ethnic group in the United States (Center for Public Education, 2013), a pattern already present in some states (Weller, Ajinkya & Farrell, 2012). Currently, one in three people in the United States identifies themselves as a member of a racial and ethnic minority (U.S. Census Bureau, 2007). Additionally, nearly 54 million Americans have a disability associated with a long-term physical, sensory, or cognitive condition (U.S. Census Bureau, 2007). People with disabilities experience many of the same challenges of other marginalized groups. Even though progress is being made in the move towards equal opportunity in training, education, and leadership (Wolanin & Steele, 2004), the intersection of disability and race presents additional challenges. An area that demonstrates this is in the overrepresentation of students from diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds in special education (Blanchett, Klingner & Harry, 2009) in some states of the USA, while other states have poorly researched but pervasive instances of underrepresentation of English language learners in special education.
Many stakeholders involved in developing this Toolkit identified this priority of providing accessible, culturally and linguistically competent services, including documenting and sharing effective cultural modifications made to evidence-based services. Only in this way will the network be able to provide services in a manner that is understood and accessed by people in the country's changing demographics.
Comply with federal guidelines addressing access and inclusion in service delivery: Executive order 13116, Title VI Language access act, CLAS Standards, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act.
Discuss and construct a working definition of "family" that includes the many ways families define themselves. This has impact on how services are conceived, funded, delivered, and reported.
Together with community members, document the cultural adaptations being made with evidence-based or other programs/services so these can be shared widely with others through videos, newsletters, posters, calendars, or other materials that community members will access. Share with AUCD as well.
Support all service providers to treat people from all backgrounds with respect and to recognize that a request for service should result in equal opportunity for service, and that services are just as much a necessity for every person, regardless of background.
Evaluate specific practices and interventions to see how they are (or are not) culturally competent. Collaborate with community in effort. Talk with people and families individually to see what is working and what is not
Ensure family support services address all the ways in which families seek or want support, and are respectful to families.
Make services available and accessible in multiple locations in communities. Consider outreach clinics, YMCA/YWCAs, civic centers, faith communities, and other local venues.
Learn about the historical trauma suffered by community groups. Know about unethical research conducted with state and national and international groups. Build/rebuild trust with communities. Be aware that universities/ hospitals/ governments have been responsible for unethical research and experimentation with underrepresented groups so relationships may need rebuilding. Learning about trauma experiences can be very difficult, traumatizing, or re-traumatizing. Build self-care and safe spaces into these learning opportunities.
Conduct an impact assessment in areas where services are provided, to see the places most people go, and how we can work there.
Provide services that are relevant and accessible, meeting the individualized needs of the people and families receiving services
Create a clearinghouse of resources providing information on systems of beliefs in I/DD intellectual and developmental disabilities, decision-making, care, support, healing, education and advocacy that emerge from different cultures and communities where diverse populations live
Review and examine all service programs, projects, and activities. Ensure that each addresses diversity, inclusion, and cultural and linguistic competence in alignment with organizational mission and values. This can be done by a working committee, consortium of folks from across departments, or other consultant to ensure a more objective review.
Provide opportunities for clinicians and other service providers to analyze and confront their own biases before working with people from diverse communities.
Create a clearinghouse of resources documenting cultural adaptations of evidence-based practices with people and families with disabilities from diverse groups
Comply with Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act
Advocate for family-centered care and shared decision-making within the healthcare system.
Develop an effective partnership with disabled people's support staff so they also feel welcome. Many support staff may be from diverse backgrounds, so how they are included will be felt (and probably shared), leading to prospective allies for cross cultural initiatives.
In partnership with those receiving or wanting transportation services, identify transportation needs and seek out available transportation services. Consider accessibility, rural access, cost, etc. Build relationships with transportation service providers, so your service recipients become their priority. Advocate for broader transportation options to meet needs.