On October 18, 2019, Partners for Youth with Disabilities hosted the first Boston Inclusion Community training at the Boston NonProfit Center. The initiative began in 2017 and aims to train companies and organizations around the Boston area on disability inclusion. This year, the program opens itself up to all interested parties and currently represents over 30 organizations.
The premise of the training is understanding that anyone in any agency, company, or institution working with people is working alongside those with disabilities. Whether a person’s disability is visible or not, it is important for all staff to have the appropriate training and information on inclusivity.
During the event, attendees from the Federation for Children with Special Needs and BU Social work, among others, discussed tips for inclusive communication. The topics discussed included tone, word choice, etiquette, and body language. Some highlights on inclusive communication include using the person-first language such as “the man with autism” rather than “the autistic man.” With these guidelines, attendees were divided into groups and devised action plans to help reinforce their organization’s inclusive statements.
The event also opened up conversations on suicide prevention. Old and new prevention methods were explored. An attendee said, “I didn’t know it was okay to ask someone whether or not they wanted to consider suicide.”
Though difficult to ask, it is a critical question for suicide prevention. Aceriane Leal, an outreach specialist, summarizes the concept by “identifying the barriers and taking the barriers away.”
Steve, PYD’s National Inclusion Manager and IT Quality Administrator redirected the discussion towards ways to lead organizational change. He suggests that it begins by leading with 60% of your heart and 40% with your mind. It is important for people to truly understand the cause in order to initiate change in their hearts and not just their minds in a logical sense.
“The training helps you see the steps and objectives to achieve the change,” said Leal.
Near the end of the event, Steve and Derek from the National Disability Mentoring Coalition asked the attendees to break into groups and come up with action plans for leadership engagement, outreach, training, reasonable accommodations, technology, and communication. Not only do these plans encourage real-world applications, but attendees will also receive a certificate of completion by presenting them in the next Boston Inclusion Community training.
Mars, a BU student at the School of Social Work reminds us, “if it is something you want to do, it’s not impossible.”
Learn more about this years’ first Boston Inclusion Community training in the YouTube video below.
This blog post was written by Emily Chen of the BU PR Lab.