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The Community Center: Getting Involved
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Having a Disability

If you have a disability, you may need some supports to help you participate in activities in your school or community. We call these "accommodations". It's really important that you know what kinds of supports you need, and that you ask for them.

Don't assume that people know what accommodations you might need and that they will automatically provide them! For example, let's say you have a physical disability. Others may decide that you need accommodations for your wheelchair—like building a ramp or putting in an elevator. But maybe what you really need is just some help arranging transportation.

What if you have a learning disability? This may affect you at home, at school, at work, and in the community as you try to learn and then do things. You may know what you need, but sometimes you might just have to try things first to find out what you may need and then ask for support later.

The point is, if you don't tell people what you need, how are they supposed to know? This is something you've got to learn to do!

Realize that you might have to talk to many different people to begin to take part in an opportunity within a youth organization. And if someone tells you that an accommodation is not possible, you'll need to ask, "Are there other options?" or "Are they unclear about what I am asking for?" If you speak with someone that does not understand your needs, ask to speak with someone else.

Here are some tips for talking with someone in an organization you want to get involved with:

  • Ask to be given information about the organization before you agree to participate.
  • Ask for a current schedule of events to be sent to you either by e-mail or regular mail to your work or home. (If you need alternate formats of the materials, ask for them. If the organization doesn't know what you are asking for, explain your disability and why the alternate format is needed.)
  • If you don't understand the things that are mailed to you, ask someone to read and interpret them for you. You can speak with them to understand the materials better.
  • If you feel uneasy about the opportunity in any way, talk with a friend, family member, or other support person to ask questions and think about other ideas that will work!

The important thing is that you find an opportunity to get involved in things that will make you feel good, like you've contributed to a cause or helped someone out. Having a disability shouldn't be a barrier to getting involved. Try our activity below to help you find the supports you need to get involved!

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Last updated on June 30, 2015

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