Tips When Seeking Volunteers
A volunteer who is blind reading to children….…the possibilities are endless!
A volunteer who uses a wheelchair doing disaster relief…
A volunteer who is deaf working on a building restoration project…
A volunteer who has mental retardation providing companionship and support to elderly citizens…
54 MILLION POTENTIAL RECRUITS!!
Targeting individuals with disabilities dramatically increases the potential recruitment pool and adds diversity, skills and talent to your program. Recruiting and managing volunteers with disabilities is virtually the same as recruiting and managing volunteers without disabilities.
Volunteer programs should be welcoming to people with disabilities. Printed materials should be made available in alternate formats (Braille, large print, on computer disk, or audio-tape) upon request. Holding recruiting orientations in accessible locations will send a message of inclusion. Published recruiting tools with statements that invite people with disabilities to participate in volunteer programs will be well received. Local disability organizations and agencies that serve people with disabilities can be key in identifying potential recruits.
MAKING A MATCH
Making a good match means "setting up" volunteers for success. This is achieved by knowing the volunteer and having candid conversations about the needs of the program and the skills of the volunteer. Be very clear about program expectations and ask the volunteer to be very clear about the skills they bring to the situation.
KEEPING GOOD HELP
Ensuring a long lasting and successful relationship with a volunteer requires open communication to ensure the tasks are being accomplished in an acceptable manner to both parties. Establishing an accessible and inclusive environment is an on-going and evolving process. It is often assumed that volunteers with disabilities all require accommodations or that similar disabilities require similar accommodations. This is not always the case, and should be determined on an individual basis. When accommodations are requested, they are often very simple to implement and not very costly.
Examples of accommodations:
- clear paths of travel
- door handles reachable by wheelchair user
- communication access (TTY, sign language interpreters, captioned videotapes, etc.)
- flexible scheduling
- Always direct communication to the individual with the disability. If they are accompanied, do not direct your comments to the companion.
- Focus on the individual and the issue at hand, not the disability.
- People with disabilities are interested in the same topics of conversation in which people without disabilities are interested.
- If someone needs you to speak in a louder voice, they will ask.
- People with disabilities, like all people, are experts on themselves. If you are uncertain what to do, ask. Most people would rather answer a question than be in an uncomfortable situation.
- See more interaction tips.
Collaboration with local disability organizations can be beneficial. Disability organizations can be instrumental during the recruiting process in helping to identify skilled volunteers. When and if there are questions of accommodation needs, these organizations can provide assistance and advice.