DFC got its start in 2008 when Good Shepherd Rehabilitation Network underwrote the expenses to conduct an intensive survey of the unmet needs of people with disabilities in Lehigh and Northampton counties. Conducted by the Lehigh Valley Research Consortium (LVRC), “The Lehigh Valley Disability Community: A Survey of Needs and Opportunities” identified 12 cluster areas of needs. They were:

  • Information and referral
  • Health and healthcare
  • Employment
  • Transportation
  • Housing
  • Perceptions and attitudes
  • Opportunities and discrimination
  • Education
  • Community participation
  • Technology and assistive devices
  • Emergency preparedness
  • Needs of caregivers

Good Shepherd commissioned a similar but more comprehensive study in 2015. Four key themes surfaced from the responses to questions in the survey:

  • Access
  • Affordability
  • Inclusion
  • Opportunity

These four are clearly interconnected and play a role in an individual’s ability to live independently and productively, to achieve better health, fully realize social and political rights, and to be fully integrated into community. The survey identified several areas of unmet needs and gaps in services to prevent, reduce or alleviate those needs. The DFC will consider the findings from this study at future meetings as it identifies and shapes its own course of actions going forward.