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Office on Disability

National Leadership Summit on Eliminating and Ethnic Disparities in Health: Pre-Conference Addressing the Healthcare and Wellness Needs of Women of Color with Disabilities, January 2006

Conference Presentation: Minding the Gap: Access, Availability, and Services
by Gerlene Ross, Ph.D.

Slide 1

Minding the Gap: Access, Availability, and Services
Dr. M. Gerlene Ross

Slide 2


  • Disability Research
  • Access Challenges
  • Disparity Issues
  • Cultural Sensitivity
  • Cultural Competency

Slide 3

Disability Research

  • Shift in ethnic, racial and cultural composition of the U.S.
  • Must be a shift in vocational rehabilitation and other service delivery programs
  • Service delivery contrast between White Americans vs. Non-White

Slide 4

Minority Disability Rate



Amer Ind








Slide 5

Barriers Impacting Racial/Ethnic Women with Disabilities


  • Services Provided
  • Resources Employed
  • Outcomes

Slide 6

Disparity Issues

  • Fifty-three million Americans have either a severe or a non severe disability
  • Disparities in rates of disability are pronounced for diverse groups
  • African Americans 20.0% second only to Hispanics
  • African Americans have the highest rate of severe disability of all racial groups

Slide 7

Disparity Issues

  • Rates of disability are disproportionate in terms of gender
  • Women represent more than half of persons with disabilities
  • African American women (21.7) are second to Hispanic women (21.8) in disability rate.
  • African American women have more multiple disabling conditions

Slide 8

Disparity Issues Cont

  • Persons with disabilities are less likely to be meaningfully employed
  • Severity of Disability impacts employment status as well as quality of employment
  • Women are least likely to have employment regardless of disability
  • Women with disabilities are at higher risk for unemployment

Slide 9

Cultural Sensitivity

  • Respect
  • Reasonable Accommodations

Slide 10

Cultural Sensitivity

  • Persons with disabilities are people-treat them with respect
  • Having a disability is only one aspect of a person's life

Slide 11

Cultural Sensitivity

  • Be careful with the language that you use
  • Talk directly to the person
  • When in doubt ask

Slide 12

Reasonable Accommodations Mobility Disability

  • True accessibility
  • True accessible parking
  • Access Ramps

Slide 13

Reasonable Accommodations Hearing Disabilities

  • Utilizing TDD- Telecommunication Device for the Deaf
  • Be familiar with telecommunication abbreviations
  • Utilizing an interpreter

Slide 14

Reasonable Accommodations Visual Disabilities

  • Offer materials in Braille
  • Use screen readers, speech synthesizers, scanner systems, TeleBraille, and large format displays.
  • Ask if they want assistance
  • Do not pet or talk to service animals without permission

Slide 15

Reasonable Accommodations Communication Disabilities

  • Take time to listen to the person
  • Solicit and provide feedback
  • Reduce or eliminate background noise

Slide 16

Cultural Competence

  • Individual-The ability to communicate effectively with individuals representing diverse racial and ethnic heritages
  • Organization-The ability to be responsive to diverse cultural, ethnic, or linguistic clientele.
  • Research- notes changing demographics, consumer-centered services, and validation as key for increasing cultural competence

Slide 17

Research Needs

  • Cultural Competence
  • Employment
  • Community Participation
  • Resources

Slide 18

Recommendations & Research Questions-Cultural Competence

  • Most frequently cited
  • Need for Cultural Competence training
  • Cultural Competence in service delivery
  • Cultural Competence professional prep
  • Examine the awareness of cultural factors
  • Examine pertinent correlations
  • Apply information to racial identity development

Slide 19

Recommendations & Research Questions-Employment

  • Survey employer awareness of ADA
  • Survey attitudes towards PWD's in underserved comm.
  • Expand employers for PWD's from underserved comm.
  • Enhance employment opportunities in underserved comm.
  • Identify strategies that promote and sustain employment

Slide 20

Recommendations & Research Questions-Community Participation

  • Evaluate accessibility in private and public sector
  • Educational services for youth with disabilities in the juvenile justice system.
  • Effects of lack of education on service provision.
  • Research the impact collaboration on community participation.

Slide 21

Recommendations & Research Questions-Resources

  • Research the effectiveness of skills development models of research and PAR
  • Examine how community-based research methods provide insight
  • Identify partnership models that can be developed to facilitate knowledge transfer