How Disability Integration REALLY Happens

Jul 25, 2023 | Partnerships

In 1967, Americans with ID/DD lived largely in state-operated institutions. By 1995, about half received services in home and community-based settings (HMA report, 2020, 58). And by 2019, the vast majority of individuals were served through home and community-based services (IAP report, 2019).

Community care has effectively replaced institutional care.

As one of the groups to help provide community-based care, we at Limitless Disability Services are privileged to be on the front-lines of integration. We’ve seen how community access helps clients preserve their independence, build skills, and find more of a sense of self and place. When they are in the community, they also have the chance to contribute to local businesses. One of the main ways we build these important bridges is through our Community Access Individual Services program.

Community Access for Each Individual

Our current services, free for clients who are approved for the Medicaid NOW/COMP waiver, fall under what is called Community Access Services. Our Day Program helps individuals grow in a group setting; but our Community Access Individual (CAI) program allows clients to work on specific integration goals with one-on-one professional support. The CAI program offers clients:

  • Individual goal-setting to improve skills,
  • One-on-one teaching and coaching,
  • Socialization and networking opportunities,
  • Practicing independent use of community resources,
  • Adaptive skill-building for community participation and social/recreational activities, and
  • Building independent functioning skills, such as assisting the participant with money management, teaching appropriate shopping skills, using public transportation, and teaching nutrition and diet information.

To do all this, the CAI program relies on community partners to provide opportunities, like Tanya, co-owner of The Woodstock Coffee Company in downtown Woodstock.

How Businesses Can Partner With Us

Tanya and her husband had previously noticed that Rise ‘N Shine Farms employed people with disabilities successfully, and having a son on the autism spectrum themselves, they were intrigued. When a customer came into Tanya’s coffee shop asking about small activities Limitless Disability clients could do for the company, she was ready.

“My son could be one of those adults struggling to get a job, struggling for that chance,” she said. So she identified tasks clients could help with and discussed the activity with our Direct Support Professional, Toni Chancey.

Toni, who heads the CAI program, tries to cater these volunteer activities to the specific skills the clients are working on.

“I try to customize the experience to work towards achieving specific ISP goals. I also take into account specifics like interest in a particular place or activity, as well as if the activity is something the client excels at,” Toni says.

Integration is a big societal change, but it happens in small ways. It’s happening when Tanya welcomes a client into the coffee shop with a big smile and later congratulates them on their quick work. It’s happening when Toni talks a client through a new procedure. It’s happening when we work together to create growth opportunities for those with disabilities.

“Seeing clients complete job tasks or do things out in the community they normally wouldn’t do incites a special pride within them,” Toni says. “It’s absolutely amazing to get to watch this happen for them.”

We are so grateful for the many business partners who already work with us. We couldn’t do this important work without them.

If you own a business or know a local business owner, email Toni at about how you can help!