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Inclusion: The active engagement of people with disabilities as service members in all levels of national and community service

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This Handbook will assist you as you work to fully and meaningfully include individuals with disabilities in your national and community service program. It is not intended to constitute legal or other professional advice and it will not necessarily provide you with solutions to the complex situations or legal interpretations that may arise. It is, however, designed to provide you with accurate information. If you need legal advice or other expert assistance, your best course of action would be to consult a competent professional. You will find specific resources to assist you in different areas of outreach, recruitment, selection, and retention of participants with disabilities in national and community service. Please feel free to provide feedback to Jewel Bazilio at jbazilio@cns.gov at the Corporation for National and Community Service.

This publication was developed by the UCP Access AmeriCorps disability inclusion training and technical assistance project. It is based on work funded by CNCS under Cooperative Agreement No. 95CA000031. Opinions expressed in this book do not necessarily reflect the official position of CNCS.

Completion of this Handbook would not have been possible without the tireless efforts of a working group of dedicated professionals from the national service and disability fields who provided invaluable recommendations for content and format, as well as thoughtful reviews and feedback.

Working group members were:
Eddie Aguero, ADA Special Projects Director, California Governor's Office on Service and Volunteerism; Josie Athman, Access Coordinator, Maryland Governor's Office on Service and Volunteerism; Ellen Dossett, Ph.D., Assistant Professor in Psychiatry and Behavioral Neurobiology, Director, Life Projects, Civitan International Research Center, University of Alabama at Birmingham; Mike Hermanson, Director, Montana Center on Disabilities; Pam Moore, State Disability Coordinator/Administrative Assistant, Nevada Commission for National and Community Service, Inc.; Ray Petty, Kansas Coordinator, Great Plains Disability and Business Technical Assistance Center (DBTAC) (ADA Project); Diane Sherwood, PennSERVE: The Governor's Office of Citizen Service; and Paula Sotnik,Director,National Service Inclusion Project, Institute for Community Inclusion, University of Massachusetts/Boston.

Several CNCS staff were also active members of the working group:
Nancy Talbot, Director of Program Planning and Development; Nancy Voss, Director, Equal Opportunity Office; and Jewel Bazilio-Bellegarde, Senior Training Officer, Office of Leadership Development and Training. Various other staff, including Dave Bellama, Training Officer, and representatives from the different CNCS programs (Senior Corps, AmeriCorps, and Learn and Serve America). The Office of the General Counsel, and the Office of Training and Technical Assistance also provided invaluable assistance in the development of this publication.

A special thank you to Emily Miller, National Service Fellow 2001, for sharing information and resources from her fellowship project on the current state of inclusion of people with disabilities in national and community service programs.

Special thanks are also extended to a representative group of stakeholder/end-users from the service and disability fields who met for two days in Atlanta, Georgia, in July 2001 to intensively review and provide honest and constructive feedback on the Handbook.

We owe a huge debt of gratitude to Susan Finisdore Higgins who served as Project Director of the UCP Access AmeriCorps training and technical assistance project and was the lead author of this Handbook. For the last eight or so years, Susan has worked tirelessly to improve the efforts of service programs in successfully including persons with disabilities and in creating linkages among disability communities. She is one of the country's leading experts in disability inclusion and national service.

We are also indebted to independent consultant Charlotte Safos for her many, many contributions to the Handbook as well as to other UCP staff who took care of the details and made the development of this document seamless.

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©The National Service Inclusion Project (NSIP) is a training and technical assistance provider on disability inclusion. NSIP partners with the Association on University Centers on Disability, National Council on Independent Living, Association on Higher Education and Disability and National Down Syndrome Congress to build connections between disability organizations and all CNCS grantees, including national directs, to increase the participation of people with disabilities in national service.