The ability to go where we like when we wish is something many of us take for granted. But for the one in four people who lives with some sort of disability, according to the Centers for Disease Control, independence isn’t always so easy.
The good news is that volunteers can be effective in the lives of people who are challenged in accessing various places, platforms, and resources. Here’s how you can volunteer to give others the freedom to experience more.
Make the outdoors accessible
Getting outdoors is good for us, but people with disabilities may face myriad challenges in doing so. A variety of organizations are working to make gaining access to the outdoors more accessible. Disabled Hikers is an organization led by people with disabilities that organizes trips and advocates for greater access for people with disabilities and even had a trail rating system. The Outdoors for All Foundation is a national leader in adaptive and therapeutic recreation for children and adults with disabilities. And Limitless Adventures is a volunteer-led, nonprofit organization that provides outdoor recreational experiences for people with disabilities.
Find a local organization
Chances are, there are already active organizations helping people with disabilities in your community. Check out the local chapters of Volunteers of America, Easter Seals, Respectability, ServiceSource, and the Arc. You may find remote or regional volunteer opportunities on their websites. Your local chapter of the United Way or state office for people with disabilities may also be able to connect you with organizations in your community.
If there is a cause close to your heart, you may also seek out organizations that are specific to a particular issue. Access News allows volunteers to record current news, magazines, circulars, and other items of interest to make them more accessible to people who are blind or who have low vision. They can then listen to these print materials. Be My Eyes lets you use an app to connect with visually impaired individuals and assist them by sharing what you see through their phone’s cameras. The Hearing Loss Association of America has a number of volunteer opportunities.
If you find out that there’s an issue affecting people with disabilities in your community, make your voice heard to encourage positive change For example, for many people with disabilities, just getting from one place to another can be challenging. And while the Americans with Disabilities Act calls for accessible mass transit options, people need all manner of transport for various reasons. Encouraging continued government support for organizations like Easter Seals Project ACTION, a national technical assistance project that helps the disability and transportation communities cooperate to achieve universal transportation access. Contact organizations like the American Association for People with Disabilities or the International Disability Alliance to find out how you can help.
By working toward greater accessibility, you can help people with disabilities find greater independence. And be sure to look for opportunities on Create the Good®, too.
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