Disability Outreach

AmeriCorps Disability Outreach in Illinois

Disability OutreachAmeriCorps is a national service program that involves people in "getting things done" in communities. AmeriCorps members develop an ethic of service while strengthening local communities. Illinois has 30 AmeriCorps*State programs in operation and more than 1,200 members committing to a year of service.

The Serve Illinois Commission on Volunteerism and Community Service administers the AmeriCorps*State programs. The mission of the Serve Illinois commission is "To improve Illinois communities by supporting and enhancing volunteerism and community service." The Commission launched a new website, www.serve.illinois.gov, in 2008 to help link interested persons with volunteer opportunities throughout Illinois.

The Illinois AmeriCorps Disability Outreach Program is a special project of the Illinois Commission on Volunteerism and Community Service. Our goal is to promote the inclusion of people with disabilities as members of AmeriCorps programs in this state. We work toward achieving this goal by promoting the service opportunities available through AmeriCorps to persons with disabilities and agencies that provide services to them.

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Guide to Creating Inclusive Volunteer Programs

This guide discusses the importance, and the basics, of a service environment that promotes actions and attitudes that keep ability and acceptance in the forefront. It will provide you with tools to use when speaking to, recruiting, interviewing, employing and working with people of all abilities. In addition, it will be an aid in training staff about inclusion and accommodations. Applying the principles within will be one more step toward developing an inclusive society where all people are recognized as having value and deserving of respect.

Creating an inclusive service environment does not have to be seen as challenging, as much as it is exciting, thought-provoking, and rewarding. It is a continuous process, one that evolves and responds to changes in the environment and in policies. From kick-offs to celebrations, recruitment to retention, policy to practice, it becomes an integral part of all that you do. It impacts team-building and participant development, and is an integral part of strategic and meeting planning. It benefits individuals with disabilities and those without. It guides those who are served and those who serve, those who direct and advise and those who lead.

AN INCLUSIVE SERVICE ENVIRONMENT STARTS WITH THE ACTIONS AND ATTITUDES OF THE INDIVIDUALS ALREADY IN THAT ENVIRONMENT. A program manager who thinks first about a person’s abilities is sure to be more inclusive and is already aware that members and volunteers with disabilities are people first. A program manager who leads by example, who provides training in disability awareness and sensitivity, and who works to ensure equal expectations and contributions will be more successful in creating an inclusive service environment than one who does not.

Resources are listed at the end of each section to assist you in learning more about each topic. There is also a glossary of terms and expansive resource list at the end of this document.

View the full guide at Guide to Creating Inclusive Volunteer Programs.

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Featured Stories

The Serve Illinois Commission continues to promote inclusion of people of all abilities in National Service Programs. The Illinois Inclusion Team is actively working to bring Illinois forward into the future through building awareness, strengthening programs and providing the tools needed to better embrace and support inclusive efforts.

"Abilities" Video Produced by RSVP of Eastern Iowa and Western Illinois