How to Minimize Barriers: Strategies to Consider


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  • Accommodate your target group’s beliefs and values. Decisions about how the programs should be delivered and promoted should take into consideration the beliefs and values of the group. For example:

    • Support Network- Become aware of the group’s natural support network and integrate this network in your program delivery system. For example, if family members play a strong role in health matters, as in many Hispanic families, make sure that family members, both nuclear and extended, are invited and feel welcome to come to your program. Provide childcare arrangements as appropriate.
    • Gender roles- Respect traditional gender roles, and involve the appropriate people in your efforts. For instance, in a male-dominated household, involve the male in your recruitment efforts. If the mothers play the key role in health matters, target them when promoting a program.  The community may be most comfortable if women from the organization target women community members and males target the male community members.
    • Folk healers- When folk healers are utilized within the community, try to gain their support of your program by including them in your outreach efforts.

  • Ensure confidentiality of services and respect the groups’ need for privacy, especially when working with undocumented individuals, new refugees and others who may be distrustful of the establishment. Ask for only essential information, giving the person the option to decline to answer any questions that they feel are too personal. Make sure records and personal information are not shared without the person’s consent.
  • Provide or arrange for transportation to the program.
  • Select program times that are appropriate for the target group, including evenings or weekends for the employed.
  • Sometimes programs lose momentum or lack stability because not enough effort is put into nurturing the collaborative relationships and maintaining communication with all involved parties. Consider the following ideas:

    • Establish a concrete identity or project theme that promotes cooperative efforts among participating organizations.
    • Recognize participating groups with awards, certificates, presentations and promotional materials and efforts.







No Transportation


  • Collaborate with Area Agency on Aging or other agency that provides transportation.

  • Convene programs on mass transit line.

Physical Limitations


  • Use barrier-free facility


Family Involvement Important


  • Invite significant others.


Target Group has lots of children


  • Provide childcare.


Low Income


  • Provide scholarships and/or programs/ materials at no or low cost


English is Second Language


  • Use simple language. Avoid jargon
  • Maintain a positive tone of voice and avoid a condescending or disinterested tone.
  • Speak slowly and clearly at a moderate volume. Speaking loudly will not make you more easily understood.


Non-English speaking


  • Use bilingual personnel or interpreters.
  • Use Spanish or other tailored program materials when available.
  • Develop promotional and other supplementary materials in appropriate language, adapted to cultural needs.
  • Use audiovisual aids when appropriate.


Distrust of outside groups


  • Use volunteers from target group with whom participants can relate.
  • Show respect for culture by learning basics of verbal/nonverbal communication.
  • Be honest about what you can do and deliver on ALL promises.
  • Ensure the confidentiality of services.
  • Treat your target groups as equal partners. Use the expertise of local leaders to gain entry and involve them in all decision-making. 
  • Keep them informed about progress
  • Give something back to community. Help with community events, talks, banquets/certificates to recognize effort, etc.


Program takes off slowly


  • Start with realistic, short-term goals.
  • Realize that community network building is VERY time-consuming. Be patient!
  • Continue to obtain periodic input from community leaders and advisory groups.


No one comes to program


  • Re-assess barriers to program. Check if your site and time are accessible and convenient.
  • Check if community is definitely interested in the program.
  • Check if you got the word out through appropriate channels and if you are working with the right agencies.


Drop-out rate is high


  • Survey drop-outs to determine why they left the program.
    Determine if you are using appropriate, relevant program materials.
  • Check if you have adequately integrated cultural values. For example, do you allow family members, social time, refreshments, integration with holidays, appropriate music, etc.?


Difficult to maintain communication and cooperation among involved parties


  • Ensure that your project has a concrete identity or theme that promotes cooperation among the collaborating agencies.
  • Recognize participating groups with awards, certificates or presentations.
  • Maintain regular contact with project participants via notices, phone calls and newsletters.
  • Designate at least one accessible staff coordinator.


Cannot get media coverage


  • Build relationships with local media, and find out what you can do to improve coverage in the future.
  • Ask representatives of the minority media to serve on your advisory group.
  • Recruit representatives from your target group to serve as liaisons with the minority media.
  • Send both English version and Spanish news releases and PSAs to the Hispanic media.






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