Community Forum Launches Partnership for a Disability Friendly Community10/20/2008
Lehigh Valley-Wide Disability Needs Assessment Is Partnership’s First Project
October 20, 2008
Allentown, PA – What would make the Lehigh Valley a more disability friendly community? What are the five most critical unmet needs of people with disabilities who live here? What are the “best practices” that other communities in Pennsylvania and across the country have used to successfully address these issues?
Answering these questions was the focus of a Lehigh Valley-wide disability needs assessment initiative that was introduced at a Community Forum today at the Four Points Sheraton in Allentown. The Forum was sponsored by Good Shepherd Rehabilitation Network, based in Allentown.
At the forum, more than 120 Lehigh Valley business, civic, religious and social services leaders came together with people with disabilities to discuss creating a partnership that will explore how the community could become more disability friendly, or in other words, more accessible, inclusive and welcoming to people with disabilities of all types.
The first phase of this initiative includes a multi-faceted research project that will gather information about unmet needs and service gaps in the Lehigh Valley. People with disabilities, their care-givers and service providers will be surveyed and invited to participate in focus groups. Best practices from other communities, for addressing similar unmet needs, will be examined for possible replication. Information gathered will be used to formulate preliminary recommendations for action planning. The research phase, which is anticipated to conclude by summer 2009, will be conducted by the Lehigh Valley Research Consortium, a regional research collaboration of faculty from the Lehigh Valley Association of Independent Colleges.
While Good Shepherd will sponsor the cost of conducting the research and provide other resources to support the initiative, the goal is to develop a sustainable, self-governing partnership of organizations that will collaborate to develop and implement action plans designed to make the Lehigh Valley more disability friendly.
“The goal of today’s Community Forum was to ignite a passion for participation in the partnership,” says Cynthia A. Lambert, Good Shepherd’s vice president of Government and Community Relations. “The success of this initiative can only be assured if area organizations whose services touch the lives of people with disabilities are engaged as equal partners in this process.”
During the Community Forum, an overview of the vision for a partnership for a disability friendly community was offered by Robert C. Wood, executive vice president, Sodexo, and chairman of The Harry C. Trexler Trust, and Nelvin Vos, Ph.D., trustee emeritus and former chair of the Good Shepherd Board of Trustees. The forum also included an overview of the project’s upcoming research, an opportunity for questions and input into the process for those who attended.
For more information about the Partnership for a Disability Friendly Community, contact Cynthia Lambert at 610-776-3323 or email@example.com.