Community Outreach and Orientation

Community Outreach and Orientation

It’s common to hear myths and misconceptions about the wisdom of hiring a person with a disability, as well as about the ability of people with disabilities to find and maintain quality employment. Many employers, community-based organizations, and people with disabilities believe incorrectly that quality employment is impossible for people with disabilities.

The goal of community outreach and orientation is to inform employers, community-based organizations, and people with disabilities and their families that with the right services and supports, quality employment is not only possible, but as likely for a person with a disability as for a person without a disability.

The desired result is increased referrals for vocational rehabilitation services from community-based organizations and applications from people with disabilities.

How Does it Work?

There are many ways to approach a community outreach plan. Here are key elements to keep in mind when developing a plan that speaks to your community’s unique demographics and needs and results in your desired outcome:

  • Develop relationships with key community and business stakeholders to better understand your audience.
  • Define your goals, strategies, and audience based on your community.
  • Work collaboratively with community and business stakeholders to develop engaging, culturally aware materials and activities targeted to your unique community
  • Apply the SMART framework to develop your goals and activities:
    • Specific
    • Measurable
    • Attainable
    • Relevant
    • Time-bound
  • Share information broadly through diverse channels:
    • Public service announcements
    • Community forums
    • Listening sessions
    • Job fairs
    • Social media
    • Radio interviews
    • Accessible videos
    • Podcasts
    • Literature
  • Be responsive to feedback and available for discussion to further inform and develop collaborations.

Best Practices/Research

Strategy Use in Targeted Communities

Several Project E3 Communities used this strategy to improve employment outcomes for their most underserved populations. They include: