Building a disability inclusive public health workforce and culture includes building the knowledge, skills, and abilities of your current staff about disability inclusion and how to partner with and build relationships with people with disabilities. In this blog post we will look at some strategies and resources to help local health departments (LHDs) build a more disability inclusive workforce and culture, which complement the strategies and resources we talked about in Disability Inclusive Work Cultures for Local Health Departments.
Workforce Development and Strategic Planning
Understanding where staff need support to build disability inclusion into their work is crucial. Below is a systems diagram of what your team may be experiencing; finding places to provide training, address policies, or otherwise intervene is key to making changes.
Below are a couple of ways your local health department could build disability inclusion into your plans, whether they are formal or informal. Feel free to use these as is or adapt to your local needs.
If your LHD has not done any disability inclusion training, a good place to start is the NACCHO Health & Disability 101: Training for Health Department Employees. This training can be added to current workforce development trainings and included in new employee orientation.
- (For current staff) All LHD staff will complete the NACCHO Health & Disability 101: Training for Health Department Employees by the end of August 2023.
- (For new staff) All LHD staff will complete the NACCHO Health & Disability 101: Training for Health Department Employees within 60 days of hire.
If your LHD has done some basic disability inclusion training, a next step could be partnering with a local disability service agency to lead a quarterly or annual all staff training for a more in-depth training of local disability needs.
- All LHD staff will participate in at least one of the disability inclusion or disability etiquette trainings facilitated by local disability service agency annually.
Your health department could either add an overarching goal to address disability inclusion as it relates to LHD priorities and strategies or add some objectives or activities that start addressing disability inclusion.
Example Goals with objectives:
- Develop and implement a disability inclusive training curriculum.
- Objective 1: By December 31, 2023, develop an action plan to address new hire and continuing training for staff specific to disability inclusion.
- Objective 2: By March 31, 2024, develop an MOU with funding for partnering with local disability services providers for local disability inclusion training.
- Research and implement disability inclusion in health promotion and chronic disease programs.
- Objective 1: By November 1, 2023, the Health Promotion team will work with local disability services providers to conduct a health promotion and chronic disease needs assessment for people with disabilities to identify the top 5 concerns for people with disabilities.
- Objective 2: By April 30, 2024, the Health Promotion team will conduct 5 Community Health Inclusion Index assessments.
Examples for objectives or activities as part of another goal:
If you are working on a Community Health Assessment (CHA), some disability inclusion work may include:
- CHA objective: By October 15, 2023, add a section of 3 to 5 questions on disability inclusion and accessibility to public health programs and services for the public.
- CHA activity: Ensure CHA survey is available in accessible formats and is distributed broadly via disability services providers in the community.
Disability Inclusion Example from Local Health Department
The Siouxland District Health Department, based in Sioux City, Iowa, has been intentionally building their disability inclusion over the past 8 years. They started by developing partnerships with local disability service agencies and later trained staff on disability inclusion. This work has grown to include an All Abilities Coalition and Onsite Accessibility Assessments for businesses and organizations using the Community Health Inclusion Index, as well as sensory friendly exam rooms in their public health clinic.
Additional Resources for Disability Inclusion
Disability Service Agencies
- Aging and Disability Networks
- Centers for Independent Living | ACL Administration for Community Living
- Centers for Independent Living Directory
- Eldercare Locator, part of the U.S. Administration on Aging
- ILRU Directory of Centers for Independent Living (CILs) and Associations | Independent Living Research Utilization
- Outcome Measurement for Centers for Independent Living: Toolkit
Disability Inclusion Trainings and Resources
- Introduction to Web Accessibility | Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) | W3C
- Directory of Community-Based Organizations Serving People with Disabilities (naccho.org)
- Disability-Inclusive Communications Guidelines
- Disability Language Guidance - NACCHO
- Health Equity and Disability: Impacts of Unconscious Bias and Diagnostic Overshadowing
To access the recording for the webinar, click here, and to download a copy of the presentation, click here
Thank you to Siouxland District Health Department for sharing their work and to the NACCHO Strengthening Disability Inclusion Efforts in Local Health Departments awardees.