Outreach - Reaching the Unserved and Underserved

Image with words Community Outreach including several pictures of people with different types of disabilities.

Community Outreach

The Ohio Developmental Disabilities Council conducts outreach activities to identify individuals with developmental disabilities and their families who otherwise might not come to the attention of the Council and enable individuals and families to obtain services, individualized supports and other forms of assistance including access to special adaptation of generic community or specialized services. 

Why is outreach important?

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.

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. Click here for more information on the DD Act and its statutes that support community outreach.

Who are the “unserved” and “underserved”?

The DD Act states that the unserved and underserved includes, but is not limited to, populations from racial and ethnic minority backgrounds, disadvantaged individuals with limited English proficiency, individuals from underserved geographic areas (rural or Urban), and specific groups of individuals within the population of individuals with developmental disabilities, including individuals who require assistive technology in order to participate in and contribute to community life.

In addition, the Ohio DD Council considers other ways to view this classification of unserved and underserved:

  • Ethnic, cultural, and disability groups that typically do not receive services and supports because of language or cultural barriers.
  • People whose voices are not heard because they don’t ask.
  • People who are not “heard” because they make up such a small percentage of the population.
  • People who are isolated from the mainstream.

Learn More about DD Council's Outreach Initiatives

  • DD Council's Outreach Committee: Learn about the mission of the Ohio DD Council's Outreach Committee and the important work they do through grants that specifically target the unserved and underserved. 
  • DD Council's Outreach Publications: The Ohio DD Council offers several online and print publications that detail the work of the Outreach initiatives and booklets about specific projects. 
  • ReachOut e-Diversity News: This is a bi-monthly newsletter providing information on the need to promote more interagency collaboration and coordination that results in agencies providing culturally competent services to the unserved and underserved populations in Ohio. 
  • Links to Other Resources: Links to resources from other websites that provide information about outreach to the unserved and underserved.