DBI World Conference 2019 - Creating inclusive accessible community groups
Developing Inclusive Accessible
● What do we mean when we say “Inclusive community groups”
● Understanding the benefits to true inclusion and what barriers we may experience
● Tools you can use tocreateinclusive community groups
● “85% of young adults with disabilities
say they feel lonely most days.”1
● “Isolation and Loneliness can increase
risk of illness and death”2
Isolation common toDeafblindness
Communication Skills:Limited to few people who are trained.
Technology Fostered Isolation: Social media can give illusion of community.
Misunderstanding Friendships:They may have many acquaintances, but few friends.
Service Isolation:it is possible to unintentionally shield a person from their environment.
Key: Always ask “With who?” when picking activities.
Why is Inclusivity Essential
● Enriching the Community and deafblind individual equally.
● Neurological developmentthroughDiversity
● Natural Learning Opportunities
Community as a consumer:
• Community throughpurchase.
• Emphasis on ‘independence’
• The consumer is responsible for searching for the best value for their money
Community as a citizen:
• Value is based on the person and their unique gifts
• Longterm involvement is valued over convenience.
• Emphasis on developing healthy co-dependence.
• Recognizingtheuniquegifts thateachpersonbrings tothecommunity
• Adiversegroupof people, equallyincludingthosewithandwithoutdisabilities, as well as peoplewithother
• All members cancontributemeaningfullywhenchoosingactivities.
• Thepersonwhois deafblindis abletorecognizeothers’ needs outsideof their own, andeveryonecanlearn
howtointeract withthosewithdisabilities. –ThesearelearnedSkills!
WhatDoes Inclusion Look Like In
How does ableism affect friendship develop
Typical path to developing a relationship:
Introduction discover shared interestsdevelop mutual bond
Ableism affected path to developing a relationship
Subconscious defensive responseShame Overcorrection
Then, if person has overcome all of these, they can move into natural friendship
The Benefits of a Community Group
For the person who is deafblind:
• More realistic understanding of
friendships and the world
• Genuine friendships
• Increased confidence
• Naturally learnempathy
• Platform for natural and enjoyable
learning for many skills
• Community gaining awareness of members wit
• Learning how to accommodate
• Gaining valuable, psychologically beneficial tim
spent with people with disabilities and reduce th
psychological source of ableism.
• Other people with disabilities can findcommunity
• Teach people in the community intervention ski
open the world of the person who is deafblind.
For the other participants:
Finding a Topic
• Individual’sStrengths and Interests
• Community’s Limitations
• Practicality (cost, duration)
• Other’s interests. What is engaging?
• Othersskill levels. You don’t want to leave
people out because it’s too challenging
• Canthey socialize while participating?
• What is already available?
• Be creative– there might be an audience for
• It doesn’t have to be big or extravagant–
keep it simple
Finding a Group
• Online(Meetup.com,facebookgroups, online forums)
• Connect with local businesses and agencies to find people with similar interests
• Communitycommunication boards
• Build Your Own Group!
• Utilizeavailable communityresources when you can
• Ensureaccessibility works both ways
• Don’twait for accessibility to be madeprofessionally.Use the tools we have and create it ourse
Some Practical Low-tech Accessibilitytools:
• Braillewriter/Slate and Styluswith Adhesive Braille paper
• Tactile fabric paint
• Encourage group members to learn how to communicate with Deafblind person
• Always focus on meetingin real life, face toface settings
• Don’t“shield” theperson
• Don’tforce the Deafblind person to be the star
• Encouragefollowup (Expand beyond the meetups)
• Educate- talk about disabilities, inclusivity and accessibility
• Discuss consent!
• For online group registration, develop a carefully worded agreement that outlines
will not be tolerated- Keep it to a minimum!
• Teach others how to communicate effectively
• Be forward when challenges arise and promote dialogue. Try to help people fee
• Model inclusivity with the group and accept all who come
• Considerwhere you are meeting and ensure people will feel comfortablethere.
Some people may need to build on their skills in a safe environment, in order to particip
in the group. Sometimes you will see challenges with perspective taking, conversation
questions, recognizing how others are feeling etc.
Tips on Building Skills:
• Modeling, role playing and practicing in safe spaces
• Tactile or braille reminders for during the group or afterwards (interest cards, questions to ask people, n
conversations that have been had in a binder)
• Utilize teaching program and curriculums (The Science of Making Friends, The Social Success Workbo
may not realize some of their gaps in knowledge, so try teaching systematically.
How to Avoid Inadvertently Causing Isolatio
• Mingle.Don’t rely solely on online methods and “day programs” for socialization and
building. This may be uncomfortable initially!
• Always Ask “with who?”Imagine your intervention as only the completion of a person's s
hearing, not a social connection during outings.
• Don’t hoard Communication.Teach intervention skills to others.
• Relax!Don’t make it feel likework as the intervenor
• Inclusive Wording: Avoid labeling a group as only for people with disabilities (All are we
• Be adaptable: in your approach, timing,expectations
• Trust the others involved.Allow it to happen naturally (be open to how the group choose
Keeping it going...
• It may take time to generate interest. Be patient!
• A community group will ebb and flow naturally as people change jobs, move, go to s
Expect to adjust and rebuild from time to time.
• Flexibility and adaptability will be key skills in maintaining a successful group
• Avoid fees (Even optional) when possible- People may feel pressure to pay, but will draw awa
they don’t have the means.
• Remember to keep everyone’s needs in mind- religious and health related dietary restrictions,
days, other’s schedules. Try to teach flexibility and hospitality to consumer through
• What interests do the peopleyou or the people yousupport have and how
could they be used to build a community Group?
• In what ways could our own services and supports have unintentionally
• What are some tools you have used to generate social connections?
(Accessibility, social media, resources,etc)
• Other questions?
• Feel free to contact me for further informationand questions at
1) Dr. Francis Ryan, November 23, 2017
2) Socialisolation, loneliness, and mortality. Andrew Steptoe, Aparna Shankar,Panayotes
Demakakos, Jane Wardle Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Apr 2013, 110 (15)
5797-5801; DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1219686110
3) JohnMcKnight, Peter Block, John McKnight, Peter Block (2010) ‘The Abundant Community:
Awakening the Power of Families and Neighbors’
4) TheLiturgist Podcast, theliturgists.com/Podcasts, Ginny Owens, MichaelGungor, Mike