In the United States, there are approximately 6.5 million individuals living with an intellectual disability. People with intellectual disabilities are at higher risk for poor health outcomes and chronic conditions than the general population, which require more complicated and costly interventions.
Businesses and corporations are not incorporating people with intellectual disabilities into their mainstream preventative health services and programs. They also are not making their services known to this population and are not removing barriers to participation. It is likely that ignorance plays a large part in this lack of inclusion. Ignorance includes misunderstanding people with intellectual disabilities’ health needs and capabilities, neglecting to identify and understand the barriers they face and the accommodations required to participate fully, thinking it is financially infeasible to change business practices, and failing to realize the value of including people with intellectual disabilities as a target market.
Make physical spaces and equipment accessible to everyone. Treat a person with intellectual disabilities the same way you would treat any other person, while respecting their needed accommodations.
Market directly to people with intellectual disabilities. Ensure written and verbal communication is accessible to everyone. Use plain language. Remove complicated and technical language from all marketing and communications. Create an online version of programs, if possible.
Conduct a community needs assessment to understand the barriers faced by people with intellectual disabilities. Include people with intellectual disabilities in program planning groups and meetings. Modify educational materials and products to be accessible to everyone. When finances are identified as a barrier, consider financial waivers, scholarships, or discounted fees.
Teach staff about people with intellectual disabilities, how to work with them, the barriers they face, and how to address them. Ask people with intellectual disabilities to provide input on and/or conduct the training.
Incorporate inclusion into each program, service, or activity offered. Incorporate intellectual disability into your organization’s policies, statements, and mission.