The phases of the needs assessment resulted in five key findings, which we briefly describe here. We provide an in-depth description for each of these in the report on the needs assessment. Read the full report or the two-page summary.
1. Relationships are important for people with ID.
Many people with ID cannot participate in community programs without someone to take them to the site, and many need a support person with them during the activity. The support person may be a family member, a service professional, and could be a staff member at the public health organization. Recognizing this and making accommodations for a support person will help increase the participation of people with ID.
2. People with ID cannot benefit from programs if they have difficulty understanding the materials or concepts.
To make nutrition and physical activity programs fully accessible, public health programs should implement Universal Design principles. Universal Design refers to a broad spectrum of practices meant to produce materials and environments that are inherently accessible to all. This includes both making environments physically accessible and using Universal Design for Learning principles to make written materials and instructional techniques accessible.
3. Training for staff and volunteers is vitally important.
Any effort to make public health programming inviting to people with ID must ensure that the people running the programs understand the importance of including people with ID and have the knowledge and resources to do so. Each phase of the needs assessment identified training as a means to address primary barriers such as accessibility of materials/programs, motivation, and general attitudes about people with intellectual disabilities.
4. Outreach and information placement strategies influence participation of people with ID.
In all three phases of the needs assessment, data showed that people with ID often do not know about available programs or do not think those programs will welcome them. Targeting family members, partnering with disability service providers to disseminate information, and including imagery of people with disabilities in promotional materials are important ways to ensure that information about inclusive public health programming reaches people with ID
5. Public health agencies across Missouri are willing to become more inclusive.
Data from Phase 2 and Phase 3 of the needs assessment clearly indicate a high level of interest in accessibility and inclusion. However, there is a gap between intention and practice. Focusing efforts on activities that arise out of the four previous key findings will help shrink that gap.