Action Plan Guiding Principals

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The ED&I Action Plan is based on several guiding principles that reflect critical concepts and values that should drive UCEDDs as organizations (policy and practice standards) and the behavior of individuals within the UCEDD to assure fairness, equity, and justice for individuals at the intersection of race, ethnicity, and disability. At the core of these guiding principles is the DD Act of 2000, which as noted earlier, stresses the importance of ensuring that services and supports are inclusive of individuals with I/DD from diverse cultural backgrounds, specifically referencing and defining cultural competence.

Other relevant laws and federal guidelines include Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits the intentional or unintentional discrimination based on race, color, or national origin for any program that receives federal funds; the law made specific reference to protections for persons with limited English proficiency that they should have equal access to services and programs. Executive Order 13166 - -Improving Access to Services for Persons with Limited English Proficiency, requires federal agencies to create and implement plans to ensure that the programs and services they provide are accessible to persons with limited English proficiency. In addition, the National Standards for Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Services in Health and Health Care, generally referred to as the CLAS Standards, include 15 standards intended to help advance health equity and reduce disparities by promoting health care services that are respectful of and responsive to people from diverse cultural and linguistic backgrounds. These standards were first released in 2000, with a subsequent release of an “enhanced” version in 2013, which offered strategies that addressed: 1) increasing diversity and cultural competence in the workforce, governance, and leadership; 2) improving communication and language assistance, and 3) engagement, continuous improvement and accountability — all of which serve as important considerations in implementing this ED&I Action Plan.

Guiding principles for the ED&I Action Plan are organized by the three global areas addressed in the plan--Workforce Diversity, Cultural and Linguistic Competence, and systems change activities designed to achieve Local and State Impact.

Workforce Diversity Guiding Principles

The Workforce Diversity Guiding Principles for the ED&I Action Plan were developed from best practices utilized in university-level diversity initiatives broadly and the UCEDD National Network specifically.

  • Valuing Diversity: Organizations recognize that a diverse workforce contributes to creativity, innovation, perspectives, and knowledge base.
  • Proportionality: The diversity of a workforce should be reflective of the local and state demographics.
  • Diversity at All Levels: Workforce diversity should be considered within each level of employment (e.g., entry level positions to supervisory to leadership roles).
  • Looking Above and Beyond the Usual Recruiting Methods: When recruiting for positions, organizations should recognize limitations of traditional advertising and aim to reach a broader base of applicants by connecting with community organizations.
  • After Recruitment--Retain and Advance: The retention and advancement of employees should focus on the interests, talents and skills of the workforce, and address structural dynamics that may interfere with equal opportunities for promotion.

Cultural and Linguistic Competence Guiding Principles

Guiding principles related to cultural and linguistic competence were adapted from the foundational definitions and conceptual framework developed by the NCCC, based on the work of Cross et al. (1989). For more information, see

  • Organizational: Cultural knowledge and competence, non-discriminatory practice, and equal access must be sanctioned and mandated into policy, infrastructure, and practice of systems and organizations.
  • Practice and Service Design: Services must be designed to match the unique needs of the individuals, families, and communities they serve.
  • Community Engagement: Self-determination must be extended to the community level by partnering with natural, informal supports and networks within culturally diverse communities.Communities and their members must be full partners in the decision-making process, benefit economically, and engage in reciprocal transfer of knowledge and skills.
  • Family and Consumers: Families and individuals should typically be recognized as the primary support system and are the ultimate decision makers for services and supports.
  • Language Access: Services and supports must be delivered in the preferred language and/or mode of delivery of the population served. For written materials, information must be translated, adapted, and/or provided in alternative formats based on the needs and preferences of the populations served. Interpretation and translation services must comply with all relevant Federal, state, and local mandates governing language access. Consumers are engaged in evaluation of language access and other communication services to ensure for quality and satisfaction.

Local/State Impact Guiding Principles

Principles related to local and state impact were adapted from the guiding principles in the Service Equity Framework published by the Oregon Department of Health Services.

  • Engaging Communities: Building and sustaining relationships and partnerships with community members, self- and family-advocates, and local organizations committed to promoting equity, diversity, and inclusion should be prioritized. This includes listening to the members of communities with humility and respect, gaining knowledge about social, political, and economic environments affecting the community, and integrating community members into the work of the UCEDD and decisions made.
  • Data and Evidence-Based Practices: UCEDD priorities, policies and programs should be informed by data that (a) identify needs (e.g., disparities in access to and utilization of services, gaps in service delivery), (b) delineate performance outcomes and measures of change, (c) identify what works best for different communities, (d) involve members of diverse communities to ensure data identification, collection, analysis, and interpretation is culturally and linguistically appropriate, and (e) reflect local and state priorities.
  • Developing Leaders: UCEDDs should support the development of individuals with I/DD and family members who are members of historically underserved racial, ethnic, and linguistic groups as strong advocates and leaders who shape policies, develop and implement innovations, and transform communities. This will require guided, intentional and strategic investments and capacity development efforts within the UCEDD, some of which may be enhanced by existing AIDD investments such as the Diversity Fellowships, and the Leadership Institute for Cultural Diversity and Cultural and Linguistic Competence.
  • Customizing Services for Underserved Individuals and Communities: Services should match the interests, needs, and goals of the individual and/or community of focus.
  • Directing Investments and Resources: Leadership must make budgetary decisions (including continued allocation or re-allocation of existing funds and personnel), engage in fund development (including grant writing and/or contract development), and maximize current investments to address racial and ethnic disparities and promote equity, diversity, and inclusion.

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