University Centers for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities (UCEDDs) aim to positively affect the lives of people with disabilities by building and strengthening systems that support full community participation. These activities are carried out in alignment with the Developmental Disabilities Act UCEDD core functions which include: (1) interdisciplinary training including continuing education; (2) community service including training, technical assistance, model, and demonstration services; (3) research including evaluation, and analysis of public policy; and (4) information dissemination. The ExceLens series highlights the valuable work of the UCEDDs within university systems, the community, and in the lives of people with disabilities across the lifespan and their family members

Removing barriers to vaccine access with rural Spanish speakers with disabilities

Public Health Issue  

Since the COVID-19 vaccine was released, there have been language barriers in vaccinating minority communities. By using social media and having the information available in multiple languages, language and cultural barriers are being addressed for vaccine hesitancy. Many Spanish speakers have a hard time accessing the medical information that is being shared with their community, because it is not in a language they understand. By creating material in Spanish using simple language, we can reach members of the community who otherwise may not have received the vaccine. The goal of having information on multiple platforms and in multiple languages is to increase vaccination rates of SARS-CoV-2 vaccine in rural communities for Spanish speakers with disabilities. Having support from a national community of practice such as the AUCD Vaccine Access Community of Practice affords needed support to work toward this goal.

Program Overview  

The Administration on Community Living (ACL) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are funding local trusted disability and aging partners to build vaccine confidence. In Montana, ACL/CDC funding supports the Rural Institute for Inclusive Communities, the Montana Developmental Disabilities Council, Disability Rights Montana, Montana Centers for Independent Living, Area Agencies on Aging, and Aging and Disability Resource Centers. These funded partners are coordinating activities to connect people with disabilities and older adults to vaccination resources. The COVID-19 outreach partners have developed public service announcements, available here.

Making a Difference  

According to the 2020 Census, the Hispanic/Latinx population (4.1%) is the third largest race/ethnicity in Montana with 1.4% of the population identifying as Spanish speakers. Fourteen percent of Montana’s non-institutionalized population is people with disabilities, and an additional ten thousand Montanans are residents in assisted living facilities. To meet the needs of the residents, information that needs to be shared with the community includes translations into Spanish and being culturally sensitive and specific with the language used in the translations. By having the resources available in multiple languages, we are able to reach more parts of the community and work towards being more inclusive.

Shaping Tomorrow  

Making these products available in different languages shows investment in the community and helps promote positive interactions. Instead of language being a barrier, inclusive communications can engage the community to feel represented, and by being culturally specific we are able to ensure the correct translation and message is sent to the community. Resources that we used to improve the inclusiveness of Spanish translations from the LGBTQ+ community and Disability community perspective are listed on the Rural Institute website.

More Information:

  • For more information on this project please contact Meg Ann Traci, Research Associate Professor
  • Please send any questions, comments, related resources, or stories you would like to share to the URC team at AUCD.