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One Strong Voice ... of the disability community
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Real & Meaningful Community Engagement

Real & Meaningful Community Engagement is necessary to assure quality policy/program development and review.  It must include proper orientation, culturally competent[1] facilitators and proper supports for constituents[2]. All processes must be accessible[3]

Policy development and/or review must not begin until there is intentional[4] action to assure that constituent voice is adequate[5] and any supporting data has been provided and explained. Constituent voice is never represented by one person or one disability. Real & meaningful community engagement includes consulting with several independent advocacy[6] groups to determine the number or percentage of constituents appropriate for that specific process.  


Real & Meaningful Community Engagement is when:

  • Public funded entities engage constituents that are impacted by the targeted issue;
  • There is an interaction and feedback public process, not just announcements, among all parties;
  • Facilitators know how to get relevant information from people, including those with unique communication[7] styles. 
  • Constituents are provided pre-meeting support for costs associated with participation, including but not limited to:
  • Parking and/or cost of transportation
  • Cost of lunch if applicable
    • other aids that are reimbursed for providers, but not for volunteers
    • cost of attendants if necessary (including the above items)
    • A structured and defined transparent decision making process that includes prioritizing constituent voice.
    • Constituents receive orientation, training and support assuring their active participation.
    • Standards exist that assure no one person or persons can deny, control and/or ignore constituent input.
    • There are several types of participants including stakeholders[8] and constituents.


Value Message

Persons with Disabilities (PWD)[9] have a lot to say about a lot of things.  Real and meaningful community engagement must include more than one person and more than one disability.


Ask Message

This is not a drill … PWD are you ready to get involved?  Together let’s make real and meaningful community engagement for PWD a reality.


Barrier Message

Real and meaningful community engagement is more than a rubber stamp! Meaningful engagement is demonstrated when all parties listen, share and take action together.   


Vision Message

Our future is best planned today … we must demand real and meaningful disability community engagement.  Nothing about us without us, ever!

[1] Culturally Competent: The ability to interact effectively with people of different cultures, including different disability cultures, and socioeconomic backgrounds.

[2] Constituent is an individual whose personal life is affected by the outcome of the policies, programs, rules, etc., impacting services and supports. 

[3] Accessible: It must comply with the provisions of the ADA including but not limited to effective communication, a reasonable process to request modification of policies, practices and procedures, and full compliance with all regulations.

[4] Intentional: Deliberate or purposeful action which gathers all the elements related to a specific issue, allowing groups to work collectively, effectively and thoroughly to achieve an outcome. 

[5] Adequate is the minimum standard that all affected people agree to as a starting point toward make a sound decision.  There is a minimum level of quality everyone agrees on to complete the task at hand.

[6] Independent Advocacy services are provided to someone with his or her consent and without conflict of interest, acting with and on behalf of an individual or a class of people in the least intrusive manner allowing the individual to manage the decisions being made as appropriate.

[7] Unique Communication: -The distinct ways people have of expressing their thoughts or feelings that are individual often because of their disability.

[8] Stakeholders: Anyone with an interest in the topic.

[9] Person with Disabilities (PWD) refers to a person who: (1) has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities; OR (2) has a record of such an impairment; OR (3) is regarded as having such an impairment.

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