For the last two years the national committee has been hard at work on the replacement for the 2007 Scouting for Youth with Disabilities Manual. The new product will be rolled out on Scouting.org as a web-based information resource and the title will be the Special Needs and Disabilities Inclusion Toolbox, or Toolbox for short. The Toolbox is designed to support several different audiences with actionable knowledge. Families new to Scouting will find information about how Scouting works and how to get the most from the programs. Unit-level leaders will find ideas and techniques for building inclusive units.
In the Toolbox we provide information for ten major classes of special needs and disabilities, so you can adapt the activities we do in Scouting to the needs of individual Scouts. It includes new sections on food allergies, mental health, learning disorders, and speech/language that were not in the 2007 manual, and it has expanded sections on autism and ADHD. We have partnered with many specialty disability organizations to make sure you are getting accurate and useful information.
The Toolbox is built to work like a physical toolbox, where you can look around and quickly find what you need without having to read through a book. Everything is indexed and hyperlinked in a two-level table of contents and it will have a search feature as well. You will be able to download and print out sections to share with others or to carry with you in the field.
You don’t need a background in special needs to use the Toolbox. We have worked hard to make it easy to read and have avoided medical, special ed, or disability-specific jargon. We did not spend time or space on background information you don’t need to deliver the Scouting program.
It was important to create a resource that would be available to anyone who needed it on a 24/7/365 basis. We wanted volunteers and professionals to be able to get answers quickly when a situation arose because human experts are not always handy. Difficulties are resolved best when they can be handled quickly at a local level.
We are really excited to get this resource into the hands of the Scouting community. Even though it is still in a draft state, we are already making use of the material to respond to questions from the field and as a resource for training activities. We plan to expand the Toolbox over the next couple of years to help even more volunteers and professionals with “job specific” ideas and adaptations for advancement specialists, commissioners, camp directors, outdoor program coordinators, facilities managers, and more.