Everyone has the same right to health. Don't wait for someone else to make it happen.
This report offers insights for professionals who serve people with I/DD.
A Report for Pediatricians from the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Special Olympics works to improve the health of all people with intellectual disabilities
Intentional inclusion is a deliberate effort - these tips will help get you started
Universal Design helps create inclusive practices and remove barriers
Answers to frequently asked questions around inclusive health
Why Inclusive Health
  • Inclusive Health: The inclusion of all people, including people with intellectual disabilities (ID), in mainstream health policies and laws, programming, and services, training programs, research, and funding streams.

    People with ID are one of the largest and most medically underserved populations. Because of a range of systemic challenges, including inadequate provider training and inaccessible facilities, they have less access to quality health care and health promotion programs. As a result, people with ID experience dramatically higher rates of preventable disease, chronic pain and suffering, and premature death. Read our FAQ.

The Overview
Everyone has the same right to health. Learn why inclusive health is needed and why it takes a collective effort to make it happen.
People with ID deserve to live happy, healthy lives like anyone else, yet they suffer from greater disparities and lack of services. If we want to make an impact on health equity, this is a group we must include.
Alex Handfinger, Cooking Matters Director, Arkansas Hunger Alliance
By The Numbers
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Norway Athlete Dag S. Ryen Smiles on the Mountain in Schladming, Austria at the 2017 World Games
Our Approach
All people – with or without intellectual disabilities – should have equitable access to quality health care, education and services in their communities. Special Olympics aims to strengthen the capacity of health organizations, providers, educators, and influencers to make policies, programming, services, research, trainings and funding streams inclusive and accommodating of people with intellectual disabilities.
Get Started
Organizations across the public health system can take action to remove barriers and improve access for people with ID to their services, as their patients, customers, beneficiaries, and clients.

The foundational principles of Inclusive Health are: Equitable Access and Full Participation. Equitable Access means ensuring that people have access to the services and resources necessary to achieve their full health potential. Full Participation means that people with ID are fully and meaningfully included in health programs and services.

Here are four strategies to help you start:
Welcoming Spaces

Ensuring your programs and physical spaces are accessible and welcoming to people with ID:

• Incorporate disability etiquette, including for intellectual disability, into internal staff training.
• Speak directly to the individual, not his or her companion, and let the person finish before responding.
• If you offer assistance, wait for the offer to be accepted and for specific instructions. If you aren’t sure what to do, ask.
• If you are having difficulty understanding a person, it is ok to ask them to repeat themselves.
• Operate under the assumption that people with ID are capable of making their own decisions.
• Explore how using Universal Design may be applied to your services or organization.
• Ensure your space or programs are in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.


Ensuring your communications, including written and spoken language, materials, and interactions with the community are accessible to people with ID:

• Use accessible language.
• Written materials should be in plain language, at no more than a sixth-grade reading level.
• Language should get to the point and avoid jargon, acronyms, and abstract statements.
• Provide in-person assistance to ensure individuals understand materials and are able to complete forms.
• Include images of people with intellectual disabilities in your promotional materials.
• Materials should also be available in other accessible formats like braille and large type.

Awareness and Training

Understanding your community and training your staff on the barriers and challenges faced by people with ID, including on how to remove them:

• Train staff and leaders on the barriers faced by people with ID and methods for how to overcome those barriers.
• Hire people with ID to provide input on and/or conduct the training.

Sustainable and Intentional Inclusion

Building intentional and sustainable inclusion by changing organizational culture to value and understand inclusion:

• Embed inclusion into your organizational culture.
• Incorporate disability rights and access into company policies and mission statements, including diversity statements.
• Incorporate inclusion into each program, service, or activity you offer.
• Partner with local disability organizations to learn how you can improve your inclusive practices.
• Include people with ID in the planning, implementation, and evaluation of programs, services, or activities.
• Hire people with ID to work at your organization in a meaningful capacity, both as a way of promoting a culture of diversity and inclusion and as an effective way to increase awareness of the need for inclusive practices.

Help Grow the Center and Stay Connected
  • The Center for Inclusive Health is constantly growing and we need your help. Share resources that will help create a more inclusive world.
  • Do you need help making your practice inclusive or training your staff? We have a number of experts in all areas of heath and wellness. Ask us!