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    Culture Brokering

    Workshops to Increase Cultural Competency and Improve Communication

    Please note: The content contained in these pages does not imply endorsement from the Corporation for National and Community Service, the National Service Inclusion Project or any of our partner agencies.

    "If we are to achieve a richer culture... we must weave one in which each diverse human gift
    will find a fitting place."
    -Margaret Mead

    What is Culture Brokering?

    Culture brokering means bridging the gap between your organization and the diverse groups you communicate with. It's also sometimes called "partnership brokering," because it's all about building stronger partnerships with people from diverse backgrounds.

    Why Can Diversity Create Communication Challenges?

    Our cultural backgrounds affect how we talk, listen, act, and react. When we're talking with someone from a different background, we may not understand where the other person is coming from.

    Communication Breakdown!

    "Our service program has been working with a local independent living center to find new service members. But I just feel like we're speaking different languages! Every time we make a suggestion, they have a hundred reasons why our idea won't work. I'm starting to wonder: Do we even have the same priorities?"

    How Can Our Workshops Help?

    Our workshops teach you to broker partnerships with a wide variety of people and organizations:

    • People of different races, abilities, and ages
    • Culturally and linguistically diverse communities
    • Veterans
    • Disability and service organizations
    • Nonprofits
    • Community-based organizations
    • Federal agencies

    Communication Breakdown!

    "I'm Deaf and I work for an international service program. My supervisor is from the host country, and she's never interacted with a Deaf person before. I feel like she keeps trying to protect me, trying to take work off my plate--and trying to keep me from going out and being seen in the community. What can I do?"

    In Our Workshops, You Will Learn To...

    • Attract, recruit, and retain a diverse array of participants and partners.
    • Analyze your organization's values, level of disability inclusion, economics, language, and communication style so you can work more strategically.
    • Collaborate more effectively with disability organizations, national service programs, and government systems.
    • Communicate effectively with people from diverse backgrounds.
    • Increase your organization's accessibility using universal design.
    • Convey the benefits of your work to people from different cultures.
    • Work more effectively within your organization by viewing it as its own unique culture.
    • Facilitate strong communication between your agency and its partners.
    • Bridge the gaps between your organization and its diverse constituents.
    • Build the capacity to create measurable process toward inclusion through the facilitation of strategic planning among a diversity of organizations, including service, disability, and veterans organizations.

    Communication Breakdown!

    "I'm running a community health center in a neighborhood with lots of Somalian immigrants. They're mostly Muslim, and they aren't used to female doctors or to having a female in an authority position. The young guys who come in are very uncomfortable talking with me about sexual health issues--or any health issues! Is there a way I can bridge that gap while still maintaining authority?"

    Publications on Culture Brokering

    Disability Service Providers as Culture Brokers

    Jezewski, M. A., & Sotnik, P. (2005). Disability service providers as culture brokers. In Pedersen, P. B. (Series Ed.) & Stone, J. H. (Vol. Ed.), Multicultural aspects of counseling series: Vol. 21. Culture and disability: Providing culturally competent services. (pp. 15-31). Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications.

    Read a section of the material: here.
    View this publication in Amazon.com.

    • "Stone addresses a common problem in an increasingly multicultural, if not polyglot, United States. Where many people who need disability help are from societies quite different from here. And who might not be very fluent in English. The impedance is that most health care professionals can have difficulty in relating and providing assistance to those people.

      The book gives brief examples of other societies and their main cultural characteristics. Like Chinese, who might hail from a Confucian background. Another example is an entire chapter on Jamaican culture. Or a chapter on Korea. Quick reads, but well presented. All this is to help current health care professionals better appreciate any awkwardness from their patients."

    • "This is a great resource for anyone who is interested in the way the concept of disability and individuals who have a disability (and in some cases, their families) are viewed within six or seven cultures. The book includes several chapters explaining the nature of disability and how those who work with different cultural groups can interact most effectively with both the person with a disability and their families.

      This text is very "readable" and is a "must" for those who work with individuals with disabilities. Very thought provoking!"

    • "This book has a lot of good information about cultural sensitivity for healthcare service providers. We are an Independent Living Center, and provide services to some recent immigrants who have different cultural beliefs about disability and care for people with disabilities. This book will enable us to be more aware of how people from other cultures react and how we can be more sensitive to their needs."

    The Rehabilitation Service Provider as Culture Broker: Providing Culturally Competent Services to Foreign Born Persons

    Jezewski, M. A., & Sotnik, P. (2001). The rehabilitation service provider as culture broker: Providing culturally competent services to foreign born persons. (CIRRIE Monograph Series). Buffalo, New York: University at Buffalo, The State University of New York, Center for International Rehabilitation Research Information and Exchange.

    File Format: PDF/Adobe Acrobat - cirrie.buffalo.edu/culture/monographs/cb.pdf

    Presentations on Culture Brokering

    • Introduction to Culture Brokering: Bridging the Gap Between Foreign-Born Individuals with Disabilities and Service
      Presented at University of Massachusetts Boston on 10/18/2012 Presentation Materials

    Paula Sotnik, Director
    National Service Inclusion Project
    Institute for Community Inclusion

    Paula Sotnik has over 25 years of experience as a curriculum developer, trainer, and diversity and disability specialist. At the ICI, she oversees NSIP and runs the Community Capacity Building team. Paula has served as a lead training consultant and author on cultural brokering for the Center for International Rehabilitation Research Information and Exchange at the University at Buffalo, SUNY. She consults and presents nationally on disability, cultural competence, accommodations, and responsive outreach strategies.

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    ©The National Service Inclusion Project (NSIP) is a training and technical assistance provider on disability inclusion. NSIP partners with the Association on University Centers on Disability, National Council on Independent Living, Association on Higher Education and Disability and National Down Syndrome Congress to build connections between disability organizations and all CNCS grantees, including national directs, to increase the participation of people with disabilities in national service.