Illinois Inroads to Inclusion [PDF, 905KB]
By Sue McCoy, Illinois Disability Outreach Coordinator
Volume 1, Issue 1 - January 2009
Disabilities and Self Disclosure
What does "disability" mean?
- Any physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities.
- Any hidden impairment that is not noticeable in a person's speech, behavior or mobility such as learning disabilities, diabetes, epilepsy, organ disorders and asthma.
Why should I disclose that I have a disability?
- Designated AmeriCorps personnel must be made aware of any disability in order to provide accommodations to make it possible or easier for a prospective member to serve.
- A person with a disability who does not self-disclose has no protection from discriminatory practices under the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Self Disclosure: It's your decision.
- Self-disclosure of a disability does not mean everyone will know about your disability. In fact, by law this information must be kept confidential.
- It is up to you to determine how much and to whom information about your disability is self disclosed. Keep in mind, however, that efforts to provide reasonable accommodations for you depend on the information you provide.
Did you know?
- People with disabilities currently serve as AmeriCorps members in Illinois.
- The Serve Illinois Commission on Volunteerism and Community Services currently administers 21 AmeriCorps programs with 920 members.
- The Serve Illinois Commission on Volunteerism and Community Service employs a Disability Inclusion Coordinator who can help you maximize your service experience, minimize adverse effects to other disability resources and guide you through the possibilities of volunteerism.
- 1st - The active engagement of people with disabilities in all levels of society.
- 2nd - The presence of people with disabilities does not constitute inclusion unless people with disabilities are valued contributing members with a sense of belonging.
Most people get the first part of the above definition. They even agree with it and try to do the right thing by making sure they invite a few people with physical disabilities to participate in their already planned activities.
What most people don't get is the second part of the definition - the part about feeling valued as a member and contributor to the group. That means being a part of the group process from the very beginning and included in all planning and decisions. Inclusion also refers to all types of disabilities; physical, mental, and developmental.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., when speaking about volunteerism in America, said, "Everybody can be great because everybody can serve."
Let's give everyone a chance to be great!
Illinois Disability Outreach Coordinator Contact Info:
500 Anchor Road
Dixon, IL 61021
Phone: 815-288-6691 ext. 228
Links of Interest:
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