The Long Island Center for Independent Living (LICIL) is a non-residential, consumer-run, community-based organization that provides services by and for people with all types of disabilities within Nassau County on Long Island, New York. LICIL provides advocacy, peer counseling, benefits advising, transportation, housing information, independent living skills training, adaptive equipment loans, information, and referrals. They also help ensure Americans With Disabilities Act compliance and run a Consumer Directed Personal Assistance Program.
Define Your Vision and Goals for Cultural Competence
Indicate what cultural competence would look like:
Started in 2002, the Hispanic Outreach Services responded to the Hispanic community growth in the LICIL area. The project's vision was to ensure that Hispanics who have a disability receive needed services at the same level as other individuals with disabilities. To promote this vision, the Center made sure that cultural competence was enhanced at the intervention level. Thus, the Center provided a bilingual staff and specific outreach to the Hispanic community.
Conduct a Cultural Audit
Describe the cultural context of your organization or community:
Of the tremendous cultural differences within the Hispanic community that have to be addressed, the most notable regard nationality and language.
The Hispanic population in this community originates from many countries in Central America and the Caribbean, the largest of which is El Salvador, followed by Puerto Rico, Cuba, and Colombia.
These different countries also differ in cultural and social norms regarding interactions.
Differences in social norms can affect how individuals respond to service delivery and making needs known, so the project must be sensitive to these differences and provide alternate approaches in service delivery.
Though members of the Hispanic population speak Spanish, their language differs between dialects.
Educational levels also contribute to differences in language.
Because of these differences, the outreach project uses a generalized form of Spanish (not specific to any one dialect).
The following lists stereotypes that the group has recognized are often associated with the Hispanic community:
Characterize current relationships among cultures within your organization, group, or community:
The cultures represented within the LICIL are Hispanic, Italian, Jewish, African American, and American Indian. In the community, the LICIL serves Hispanics, Caucasians, and African Americans. To create relationships and interaction among different cultural groups, the LICIL plans events throughout the year, including as a picnic and an event for people with disabilities in the community. Despite these efforts, complete integration still does not happen. The staff openly discusses these issues and continues attempting to address them.
Assess the cultural competence of your organization:
The LICIL staff, specifically those who are a part of the Hispanic Outreach Service, know the characteristics, beliefs, values, and norms of the Hispanic community. They respect these cultural elements and view all people as equal. Along with the respect and understanding of cultural differences, staff are committed to continue learning about the Hispanic culture.
Identify possible difficulties your organization may encounter because of cultural differences:
The differences between Spanish dialects within the Hispanic community can cause a significant communication problem. A simple form of Spanish is used to try to bridge these differences.
Response to outreach efforts can differ depending on the cultural norms and traditions within the community. For example, the LICIL staff has found food to be an important outreach tool because it is viewed as an important element of the Hispanic community.
The comfort level with different types of interactions is a potential difficulty depending on the social norms of each group within the Hispanic community. Some individuals are more outspoken, while others consider it disrespectful to question authority.
Staff often have difficulties when referring Hispanics with disabilities to other organizations or professionals, especially hospitals, because most do not have bilingual staff or access to a translator.
The LICIL has also found that those in the Hispanic community who are not documented and not eligible for medical insurance can not get necessary equipment or personal assistance services. There are efforts to help with equipment donation for those without medical insurance, but funding is limited.
Build a Culturally Competent Organization
Identify goals for enhancing the cultural competence of your organization;
Even though LICIL staff would describe themselves as culturally competent, they understand that many things can be done to enhance cultural competence. The LICIL listed three goals that relate to cultural competence and the Hispanic Outreach Services as a whole:
Outreach to members of the Hispanic community who are deaf or hard of hearing: This population segment has been difficult to connect with because of the cultural differences that exist within the deaf community.
Increase efforts to improve relationships between different cultures that are served by the LICIL.
Increase outreach efforts to the Hispanic community to reach anyone with a disability who might benefit from the LICIL services.
Create action steps to achieve your cultural competence objectives:
LICIL staff continue to seek ways to reach out to different cultures, specifically those within the Hispanic community in accordance with the above mentioned goals. The following represent plans to enhance cultural competence:
Establish Alliance for Latinos with Disabilities to bring a voice to this community.
Plan Expo for Independence to encourage integration and establish relationships among different cultural groups served by the LICIL.
Attend conventions and seminars to learn about different cultures.
Participate in community Multicultural Advisory Committee.
Seek places where members of the Hispanic community are likely to congregate, such as religious events or restaurants, to advertise services. Post announcements in Hispanic publications.
Plan events to address issues of importance to this community.
Evaluate your effort to promote cultural inclusion at regular intervals, making adjustments when needed:
The Hispanic Outreach Services continues to work towards its vision and goals to expand services to people with disabilities in the Hispanic community and continues to dispel myths about disability and culture. Sometimes progress seems slow and results are not always apparent, but respect for one another is learned over a lifetime and through generations.