R-6, Community Engagement Evaluation Initiative (CEI) for Healthcare Access

Increasing Access to Healthcare for People with Disabilities

What's the Bottom Line?

The Community Engagement Initiative (CEI) uses grassroots action to reduce barriers to participation for people with disabilities. This project focuses on healthcare access and is based on the premise that a disability does not equal ill health. 


The purpose of this project is to determine if the use of community engagement methodologies can increase access to healthcare for individuals with disabilities.

The Community Engagement Initiative brings together individuals with disabilities, representatives of local government, health care providers, and disability organizations and advocates to identify and solve problems. They collaborate to identify and prioritize barriers to health care access in their community, then develop and implement solutions related to three issues:

  • Transportation
  • Accessibility of healthcare settings
  • Provider knowledge, attitudes and communication

The CEI process includes a town hall meeting, a community infrastructure meeting and resource mobilization. There is also a one-year follow-up period with identified community partners.

What We've Accomplished So Far

CEI projects are being conducted in cities in Oregon, Kansas, and Missouri. The process has been implemented in three Oregon cities. It is underway in Emporia, Lawrence, and Prairie Village, Kansas, plus two Missouri cities. 

In Oregon, where the project began, communities have begun making measurable improvements in access to healthcare for people with disabilities. A few examples:

In Bend, Oregon:

  • The St. Charles Medical Center parking lots have been resurfaced and restriped – for more than the legally required number of accessible parking spaces. The Facilities Director reported he received funding to “do whatever it takes to make the medical center accessible.” 
  • The Medical Center’s main entrance revolving door has been replaced by automatic doors, and restroom doors will be monitored to ensure that it takes no more than five pounds of pressure to open them.
  • The group is working to re-establish some form of volunteer mobility training since the city cut that position for budgetary reasons.

In Corvallis, Oregon:

  • The hospital system improved accessibility of its parking structures with additional accessible parking spots, new signage pointing to van accessible parking areas, additional drop-off points for patients, and improved traffic flow.
  • The Executive Director of the para-transit bus system added seven new volunteers to take incoming calls and incorporated three new bus routes to increase access to hospital services.

In Pendleton, Oregon:

  • An Access Committee has been formed to bring more awareness to the community at large.
  • A community partner has developed a disability awareness/sensitivity training that will be presented to service providers, health care entities, and civic organizations.
  • Pendleton Community partnered with the Confederate Tribes of Umatilla to develop new bus system, which will increase transportation access to rural areas and access to medical facilities outside of Pendleton.
  • The hospital improved inside directional signage to include disability formatted signs

For more information, contact Danielle Bailey, M.P.H., baileyd@ohsu.edu or the Research and Training Center on Measurement and Interdependence in Community Living at the RTC/IL, 4089 Dole, 1000 Sunnyside Avenue, Lawrence, KS 66045, Phone: 785-864-4095 (voice), 785-864-0706 (TTY)RTCIL@ku.edu 

Fact Sheet (PDF available upon request)

Using the CEI to Benefit Kansans with IDD

National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research grant H133B060018