Fostering Social Inclusion and Community Engagement


The Department of Developmental Services (DDS) has undertaken a series of efforts to encourage friendships and community inclusion among the people they support.  Regulations, policies and practices may be obstacles to promoting social integration and the kind of relationships that DDS would hope to see as a part of people’s everyday lives.  Better understanding of people’s experiences with making friends, having relationships, being involved in the community, identifying what is working well, and what may get in the way, is paramount to crafting a social inclusion policy.

Focus Groups

CDDER investigated, through a series of focus groups and interviews, the barriers to and successes of social inclusion policies and practices in the community.  Focus groups and interviews held across the state included self advocates, families, direct support professionals, group home managers, participants in Creating our Common Wealth, DDS service coordinators, DDS Human Rights Staff, DDS Quality management staff, and DDS area directors.  Results and recommendations for improving a person’s involvement with their friends and neighbors are included in the white paper.


White Paper overview of findings and recommendations (pdf)

White Paper Plain Language Executive Summary (pdf)

DDS Draft Policy on Inclusion (Word)

Social Inclusion Plain Language Summary (pdf)


In this informative webinar series, Tom Doody offers his expertise and experience from thirty years of involvement as a North Quabbin Citizen Advocacy match maker, helping facilitate friendships between people with disabilities and members of the community. The series also features people who are friends candidly describing the impact Citizen Advocacy has on them.

Four Stories

These vignettes present examples of social inclusion and community involvement for a person with an intellectual or developmental disability. These real-life stories offer a reflection on social inclusion, lessons learned, and unique ways of involving a person with a disability into the community.

© 2015 University of Massachusetts Medical School