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Accessibility and inclusion are very important. They are important for all people with disabilities. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) says that there are 6 million people with intellectual disabilities. The National Council on Independent Living (NCIL) wants to make sure that people with intellectual disabilities can be members and leaders, just like any other person with a disability. This is why we want to make changes to everything that we do. We want to make sure that NCIL is accessible and inclusive to people with intellectual disabilities. This includes our meetings, rules (also called “bylaws” or “standard operating procedures”), trainings, conferences, and how we talk with our members.
The people that work at NCIL have wanted to do this work for a long time. We met last year and made a plan. But, because of COVID-19, our work at NCIL had to change. We had to spend more time doing things we didn’t normally do in order to work from home. We had to spend a lot of time focusing on new issues. We have not been able to work on the plan we made as fast as we thought we would.
But, we are still committed to making sure that we are accessible and inclusive to all people with disabilities. Another word for “commitment” is “promise”. We promise to do this work and are starting to do what we can right now. One thing that we are starting is writing our statements in plain language as much as we can. That is just one thing we are doing, and we know that there is a lot more work to do.
While we are working to make NCIL accessible and inclusive to people with intellectual disabilities, we are also learning more about what works. These are called “promising practices.” We want to share what we are learning with other organizations that serve people with disabilities, too. One promising practice is this: instead of writing plain language versions of statements, we are sometimes writing statements only in plain language.
The most important part of this work will be making sure that people with intellectual disabilities can also be leaders and employees at NCIL.