Information dissemination project completes a successful term

Cha Pope

The Information Dissemination Project, funded by the Developmental Disabilities Council (DDC), has come to an end. This one-year pilot project's intent was to increase the awareness, knowledge and sensitivity to residents of Washington, including those in culturally diverse communities, to the rights and needs of people with developmental disabilities.

Project Coordinator Cha Pope, Media Specialist Nicole Elger, and other project staff successfully carried out the project's goals through 22 activities, which included: outreach and information dissemination to culturally diverse communities, the DD Info-Line and Publicity Assistance Line, Media Relations Workshops for disability advocates, and Not-just-a-contest Contests.

At the onset of the project, we developed a mailing list of 600 contacts statewide, including 300 nontraditional communication channels such as agencies, churches, community centers, and libraries that serve culturally diverse people. We also targeted 300 Educational Service Districts that specify existing inclusion programs. The mailing list we developed represents linkages and potential linkages of culturally diverse people within the disability advocacy community.

While working with nontraditional communication channels provided an excellent way to disseminate information, we relied heavily on the mass media as well, and we wanted other advocates to be able to do the same. Nicole and Cha trained more than 70 advocates in Seattle, Tacoma, Olympia, Colville and Yakima to use media relations to promote disability issues and organizations.

Disability advocates could learn about media relations even if they were unable to come to one of our trainings. Our toll-free Publicity Assistance Line helped advocates achieve their publicity goals by providing media strategies, information about media outlets in a particular area, and editorial support.

Similarly, we shared information about developmental disabilities through the DD Info-Line. We provided DD-related information over the phone to callers throughout the state. The DD Info-Line served as a central source for updates on statewide DD-related activities and events. We provided complete information on events, including whether a meeting site was accessible, if interpreter services were available, or if materials were available in alternative formats. Both the Publicity Assistance Line and the DD Info-Line were TDD-equipped and had on-line interpretation capacity in over 140 languages.

Not-just-a-contest Contests consisted of four contests that challenged people to create art, photographs, symbols and articles celebrating the full inclusion of all people in society. In planning the contests, we developed a broad definition of inclusion that applies to people with disabilities and people from diverse cultures and ethnic origins. The contests sparked thoughtful and creative responses to the subject of inclusion by applicants throughout the state.

We received contest entries from children and adults across the state, including residents of our targeted rural communities: Colville, Yakima, Prosser, Mattawa, Naselle and Wapato. These creations were shared with the 175 people who attended the awards ceremony and celebration.

WPAS thanks the Developmental Disabilities Council and all the people who supported the Information Dissemination Project. WPAS is currently seeking a new funding source for the project.