Module II: Disability Awareness
Time Required: 2 - 3 hours
Special Facilities, Materials, and Aids:
Handouts: Disability Awareness A - F
Overheads: Disability Awareness Q - Z
Overhead Projector and Screen
In this module participants will review their own ideas related to disabilities and disability issues as well as explore the commonly believed myths and misperceptions held by the general American culture. Facts related to disabilities will be discussed in addition to general considerations for interacting with people with disabilities and disability related language.
- To discuss with participants some common myths related to disabilities.
- To instruct participants on facts related to disability and disability related language.
- For participants to learn some general considerations for interacting with people with disabilities as well as considerations when a person has a specific type of disability.
- Arrange the participants' chairs facing the front of the room and the trainer.
- Have copies of the handouts made for each participant.
- Have overheads in order next to the overhead projector.
- Read through all handouts to familiarize yourself with the information.
To illustrate this point, ask the group to complete the following statements:
- As participants enter the room, ask that they take a minute to complete the handout "Myths, Misconceptions, and Realities of Disability" (Handout A) before the program begins.
Make sure the group has had at least five minutes to complete the questionnaire before starting.
- Explain to the group the following:
"The Americans with Disabilities Act is just the beginning; it's half the job. The bigger half is translating the law into reality, because you can't legislate attitudes, and you can't legislate acceptance.
However, you can legislate actions which can serve to educate and to alter our attitudes."
A. People who are blind live in a world of...
B. People who are deaf live in a world of...
You should get quick responses such as:
As rhetorical questions, ask the group:
- Why is it that you are so quick to jump to the negative?
- Why didn't you respond that people who are blind live in a world of sound or touch?
- And people who are deaf live in a world of sight and color?
- Why is it that we focus on disability rather than on ability??
- Does it make us bad people? (No)
"We make assumptions as a culture, and if you trace not far back in our culture you'll find a set of laws today referred to as the "Ugly Laws." Basically, these laws made it illegal for someone with a visible disability to be seen in public for the purpose of soliciting alms or sympathy, and these laws were on the books from the mid 1940's to the mid 1970's. We put our people with disabilities in separate places and told our children not to look or ask questions.
Now we have the Americans with Disabilities Act that is asking us not only to look, but to talk, to include and accommodate these people into our places of business."
"People with disabilities face many obstacles in the workplace, but the greatest challenges often stem from the attitudinal barriers of their co-workers, not architectural barriers. Therefore, in addition to making the workplace physically accessible, employers must break down attitudinal barriers and help sensitize their workers to the needs of employees with disabilities."
3. Using the Answer Sheet to "Myths, Misconceptions & Realities of Disability," review the correct answers. As an ice breaker, ask the group for their response at the answer before providing the correct answer and explanation.
4. Distribute Handout B and using Overhead Q discuss "Common Pitfall Reactions to Disability." Display Overhead R and S and review some general suggestions for interactions. Emphasize the importance of being generous with yourself and not being afraid of saying or doing the wrong thing because if you do, you'll be afraid to interact with people with visible disabilities all together.
If your participants include supervisors, distribute the optional Handout C, "Do's and Don'ts for Supervisors" at this time and briefly touch on some of the more important points.
5. Pass out Handout D, "The Facts About Disability." Overhead T through X relate to this handout, however you will probably not want to use all of the overheads due to time constraints. Pick and choose your overheads based on the expected interests of your audience.
6. Distribute Handout E. Use Overhead Y to discuss "Outdated Terms and Expressions," followed by Overhead Z "Preferred Terms and Expressions". Again emphasize that the language we use affects our attitudes and actions. Every effort should be made to treat each person with dignity.
7. Depending on the amount of time available and the focus of the training (a general overview of all disabilities or focused on specific disabilities), you may want to distribute all or part of Handout F. Spend a minute on each disability to discuss some of the more important issues.
1. To develop a sensitivity training program, employers should consider the following action steps:
- Contact organizations with expertise in disability issues and accessibility.
- Invite disability advocacy groups to speak to employees.
- Give employees background information on the wide range of types and degrees of disabilities, and offer written materials on tips and suggestions for interacting with people with disabilities.
- Encourage employees to talk with co-workers with disabilities to find out when they will need assistance.
- Create an ADA task force and ask employees to identify both physical and attitudinal barriers in their workplace.
1. The trainer should take time to familiarize themself with all the information contained within the handouts. Additional research on each topic will help to better clarify the information and to answer questions from the group.
Milt Wright and Associates
2. As a warm-up exercise to this module we have used the module entitled "Pick a Disability" from the Windmills training curriculum developed by Milt Wright and Associates. While this curriculum and other materials are excellent, they are also expensive. For more information contact:
9455 De Soto Ave.
Chatsworth, CA 91311
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