The Importance of Outreach

Collage of pictures of people with different types of disabilities and from different ethic and racial groups.The purpose of outreach is reaching out to unserved and underserved populations. It is important to reach out to these populations because it is an expectation of programs designed to serve people with developmental disabilities, such as the Developmental Disabilities Assistance and Bill of Rights Act of 2000 (DD Act). The DD Act requires each state DD Council to engage in advocacy, capacity building, and systemic change activities. These activities must be culturally competent, inclusive and include the unserved and underserved.

Read the DD Assistive and Bill of Rights Act and its outreach requirement: DD Act (Public Law 106-402)

Besides being required by the DD Act, the Ohio DD Council considers outreach important for reasons of equity. Despite all of our best efforts, certain populations continue to fall between the cracks. It is simply not fair for some people to have all the services they need - and sometimes more - and others to have nothing.  

Council’s overall goal with outreach is to bring unserved and underserved people with developmental disabilities to the table to participate in advocacy initiatives in the disability community. If we do not reach out to unserved and underserved populations, their numbers will increase, as will the gravity of their situation.

Finally, when we reach out to populations who are unserved and underserved, we often find that there are barriers - some of which may be cultural, some of which may have other roots - that can be easily overcome. But if we never reach out, we will never find out how easy it is to include another segment of our population. And that's what the DD Act is all about - inclusion. 

Learn more about the the importance and responsibility of DD Council to conduct outreach activities to the unserved and underserved groups within the developmental disabilities population from Sheryl Mattney, the technical assistance director of the National Association of Council on Developmental Disabilities (NACDD). In the video below, Sheryl talks about the importance of Council’s work including diversity through outreach activities and stresses how diversity enhances Council’s mission to make the state more inclusive for people with developmental disabilities by not only having a diverse group of members, but also by seeking diverse organizations to apply for grants. Watch Sheryl's video on DD Council's YouTube Channel at or click on the video below. You can also see what Ohio and other state DD Council's are doing in a report from the NACDD, From Outreach to Engagement: Culturally and Linguistically Competent Engagement of Members and Communities

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