Providing accessible learning opportunities and inclusive programs are critical to Extension’s mission. Creating inclusive environments is more than consideration for individuals’ personal identity. Using principles of Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Accessibility (IDEA) is an approach to intentionally build community and create new opportunities for education and growth. The Americans with Disabilities Act is a federal law requiring businesses and events to be accessible to individuals with disabilities. The Rehabilitation Act of 1973 states, “no qualified individual with a disability may be discriminated against in any program or activity receiving federal financial assistance.” The legislation applies to Extension buildings, programs, and gardens that are available to the public. This article highlights Extension’s relevance for creating accessible spaces and programs with examples from four U.S. states. Extension professionals within AgrAbility, occupational health, and therapeutic horticulture describe their experiences integrating IDEA to enhance urban agricultural programs. They share best management practices and additional resources applicable for community gardens, greenhouses, agritourism, and urban agricultural spaces. When Extension professionals and their collaborators strive to make urban programming accessible, they enhance the quality of life for participants. Applying disability service concepts to urban communities maximizes the Land Grant’s mission to create inclusive environments, ultimately impacting agricultural sustainability.
Jepsen, S., Akgerman, L., Funkenbusch, K., Calero, J., & Kelejian, H. (2022). Accessibility and Inclusion as an Approach to Enhancing Local Extension Programs. Journal of Human Sciences and Extension, 10(2), 9. https://scholarsjunction.msstate.edu/jhse/vol10/iss2/9
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