Office of Community & Civic Life
Real Choice Initiative
Tuesday, May 18, 2021
Portland’s First-Ever Disability Equity & Engagement Study Launched May 17
Study seeks to help the City of Portland understand barriers to civic engagement for people with disabilities and severe health concerns
PORTLAND, Ore.— Real Choice Initiative (RCI), a Portland-based nonprofit run by and for people with disabilities, launched the Disability Equity and Engagement Study on May 17. The study is a collaboration between RCI and the Center for Public Service at Portland State University.
The survey’s main goal is to gather data about civic engagement and the social determinants of health for people with disabilities and severe health concerns in Portland. The survey will not only create data equity but will help the City transform its relationship with the disability community and people with severe health concerns.
The survey will be accessible from RealChoiceOregon.com, and welcomes people with disabilities and severe health concerns living in Portland to complete it. The first 100 people to complete the survey are eligible for a $20 Visa gift card.
“We are excited to be conducting this study on behalf of our community,” said Allen Hines, Director of Real Choice Initiative. “Our lives are often deeply intertwined with and dependent on a broad range of City services, and yet traditionally, we haven't been engaged to share our experiences with these services. As researchers, we want to be able to tell the City why that is and what can be done to better connect our community to the people who make decisions.”
Accessibility has been a top concern for the study team. The survey is available in five languages - Chinese, English, Russian, Spanish and Vietnamese, and by screen reader, and translators will be available to support people who speak other languages. Portlanders may also participate using a phone line and receive assistance to complete the survey. If someone needs other kinds of support, such as tactile interpretation, RCI invites them to contact them for support and there is budget for additional accessibility needs.
“This is an important moment for Portland, because it’s the first-ever disability equity and engagement study in our city’s history,” said Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty. “The City of Portland is pleased to work with Real Choice Initiative to lead and implement this study so that the City can have authentic feedback to inform how the City can meaningfully support the disability community. We’re looking for feedback ranging from infrastructure improvements to cultural accommodations.”
“Civic Life is thrilled to work with Real Choice to implement this study,” said Office of Community & Civic Life Adaptive Integration Supervisor Touk Keo. “We want to go beyond American Disability Act, law, and compliance to look at the root of ableism and white supremacy. Working with Real Choice allows us to focus on disability-lead work, continue to be community centered, and for us, as a City, to start taking responsibility for how to better serve, and care for all of our communities in the City of Portland. As the writer, educator, and community organizer, Mia Mingus says so well- Access is a practice of love when it is done in service of care, solidarity, and disability justice.”
"We are excited for this historic study not only for the sake of data equity but as an instrumental starting point for how the City will reinvent its relationship with community," said Disability Equity Specialist Leila Haile at the City of Portland Office of Equity and Human Rights.
Following the data collection period, Real Choice Initiative will host a town hall event, during which RCI will present the preliminary data to people who took the survey and ask them to help us understand the nuances and conduct a community-inclusive data analysis process to draw conclusions. The town hall is anticipated to be held in mid-July. The survey ends on July 2.
Led by and for people with disabilities, Real Choice Initiative facilitates sustainable independent living opportunities for our communities.
The Office of Community & Civic Life (Civic Life) connects the people of Portland with their City government to promote the common good. Our programs create a culture of collaboration, expanding possibilities for all Portlanders to contribute their knowledge, experience, and creativity to solve local problems and make life better in the city we all share. www.portlandoregon.gov/civic/