A senior black man in a wheelchair is pushed by a nurse, and both are laughin.Reaching People with Disabilities through Healthy Communities

According to the CDC, nearly one in four Americans has a disability of some sort, and people with disabilities are disproportionately affected with chronic diseases and conditions.

In partnership and with support from the CDC Disability and Health Branch of the National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities, NACDD is proud to lead theĀ Reaching People with Disabilities through Healthy CommunitiesĀ national pilot project. This initiative enables five states and 10 local communities to make inclusive healthy choices the easy choices for people in areas where they live, learn, work, play, pray, and receive care.

NACDD is helping communities navigate through the phased healthy community change process to improve access and opportunity for healthy eating, physical activity, prevention or reduction of tobacco use, and general accessibility improvements through establishing new and supporting policies, systems, and environments (PSEs), with a principal focus on disability inclusion. This process closely resembles previous healthy community projects likeĀ ACHIEVE.


The Inclusive Healthy Communities Change Model is a phased model toward healthy community change, where NACDD led state and community groups through a phased community leadership process to instill lasting and sustainable health changes. The process focused on increasing access and opportunity for healthy eating, physical activity, general accessibility improvements, and tobacco prevention or reduction through the establishment of new PSEs.

The six distinct phases of the model include:

  1. Phase 1 ā€” Commitment
  2. Phase 2 ā€” Assessment and Training
  3. Phase 3 ā€” Prioritization and Planning
  4. Phase 4 ā€” Implementation
  5. Phase 5 ā€” Evaluation
  6. Phase 6 ā€” Communication and Dissemination.
An image of the adapted Inclusive Healthy communities model, a circular chart stepping from Commitment, to Assessment and Training, to Prioritization and Planning, to Implementation, to Evaluation, to Communication and Dissemination, back to Commitment.

This model embodies a facilitative community leadership perspective and serves as a mechanism for navigating community coalitions through a healthy community change process over a multi-year period. While the phases appear linear, it is important to note that some of the phased activities occur on an ongoing basis and even concurrently with other phases.Ā 

On this page, you can click the tabs above to learn about how to implement disability inclusive Healthy Communities efforts in your state or community using the phased approach to Healthy Communities change.

To learn more about this national pilot project, click on our project compilation video:


CDC State Disability and Health Programs applied for the project, identifying two local communities to participate as part of the competitive application process. The five CDC State Disability and Health Programs of Iowa, Montana, New York, Ohio, and Oregon, as well as the two local communities identified in each of their applications, were selected to receive funding and participate in the project.

Each of the five representatives from the State Disability and Health Programs served asĀ State Expert Advisors to local communities and to NACDD throughout the entire project process, providing state-based resources, disability and health subject matter expertise, and liaison support throughout each project phase. Two local coordinators from each of the 10 communities served as Community CoachesĀ and coordinated and led the Healthy Communities change efforts with their local coalitions and community partners.

CDC State Disability and Health Participants:

  • Iowa (Iowa Department of Public Health)
  • Montana (University of Montana)
  • New York (New York State Department of Health, Health Research, Inc.)
  • Ohio (The Ohio State University Nisonger Center)
  • Oregon (Oregon Health and Science University)

Local Community Participants:

  • Adams County, Ohio
  • Benton County, Oregon
  • Butte, Montana
  • Carroll County, Iowa
  • Cattaraugus County, New York
  • Helena, Montana
  • Marion County, Ohio
  • Sioux City, Iowa
  • Syracuse, New York
  • Umatilla County, Oregon


The collaboration with the following project partners makes the work of this national pilot project possible:


For more information about CDC Disability and Health news and efforts, visitĀ

For more information about CDC State Disability and Health Programs, visitĀ

For more information about national CDC Disability and Health Programs, visitĀ

For more information about NCPHADā€™s global Commit to Inclusion campaign, visitĀ


For more information about the DHC project or additional resources, contact:

Karma Edwards, MSPH

Careers at NACDD

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