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Disability Equality Training

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Traditionally there have been two main types of training:
1) Disability Awareness Training
2) Disability Equality Training

1. Disability Awareness Training aims to specifically provide information or raise participant awareness of disability issues without necessarily leading to any action or behaviour change on the part of the individual or organisation.

Traditionally, the focus of Disability Training has been on staff awareness, but this may serve little purpose if it is carried out in a vacuum, and may well be counter-productive – for instance, it may create frustration among staff who see how change could be implemented, but find the organisation inactive and/or uncommunicative at this level. It is therefore vital that staff development and training initiatives be accompanied by policy and procedural developments within the organisation in relation to people with disabilities. Management must also demonstrate genuine commitment to these goals.

2) Disability Equality Training allows learners to explore disability in an equality context, and the role of society in creating an inclusive society. Disability Equality Training recognises that people with disabilities have the right to participate fully in the economic, social and cultural life of that society and that such rights are underpinned by legislation. It informs the behaviour and actions of its recipients in relation to disability. It does this by:
• Working out of a social understanding of disability and difference. It identifies the social and physical barriers to full participation (information, structural, attitudinal etc), which are in society and are the responsibility of all
• Enunciating a human rights-based approach to participation in society
• Outlining the requirements of current legislation in relation to disability (e.g, The Employment Equality Acts 1998 and 2004, The Equal Status Acts 200 and 2004 and The Disability Act 2005)
• Enabling learners to understand the participation needs of people with different kinds of impairments (e.g, people with learning difficulties, unseen impairments and mental health difficulties)
• Identifying the changes in personal and/or organizational behavior required to realize equality for people with disabilities to participate fully as a member, or as a customer, of that organization
• Seeking an approach to the training input which requires the initiatives of Disability Equality Training to be management led
Disability Equality Training is more effective as it strives to achieve attitudinal change at an organizational level so that disability equality is embedded in all policies, procedures and practices

Reasons for training
Through Disability Equality Training and by recognizing the civil and human rights issues associated with disability the organization can contribute to the creation of a more inclusive and equal society. Through improved awareness, knowledge and understanding, the organization can work towards creating social cohesion and a culture that welcomes and values diversity. In addition to the broader impact of contributing to the development of a more equitable inclusive society, there are many legal and business reasons for providing Disability Equality Training to individuals and organizations.

Content of Disability Equality Training

Disability Equality Training should focus on a number of key areas. The significant difference in the provision of Disability Awareness Training and Disability Equality Training is the inclusion of a focus on a whole organisational approach. This section involves utilising the information and heightened awareness of the learners and allowing them to put the theory into practice by examining the policies, procedures and practices of the organisation.

1. History of Disability
This involves an overview of the effect of economic, social, political and educational factors on how people with disabilities have been defined and treated throughout the centuries, up to the rise of the cross-disability movement. Issues likely to be mentioned include institutionalisation, segregation, inclusive research, human rights and access to services.
Learning Objectives should include:
⦁ What do we mean by disability?
⦁ How is it defined?
⦁ What is the history of disability?
⦁ How does it differ from impairment?

2. Disability and society

This will involve a consideration of models of disability. You will hear mention of the ‘medical’ and ‘social’ models. The ‘medical’ model places the disability in the person who has the impairment – it is they who need to be ‘fixed’; while the ‘social’ model places the disability in the wider world, asserting it is society that needs ‘fixing’ in order that disabled people can be included. The paradigm shift is the actualisation of the move in our society from a ‘medical’ to a ‘social’ way of thinking about disability.
Learning Objectives should include:
⦁ How do we view disability in society?
⦁ How does the social model differ from the medical model?
⦁ How does society restrict people with disabilities?
⦁ How can we create a more inclusive society?

3. Equality and Disability
A review of current Disability and Equality legislation, as well as the history of its development, would be an essential element of Disability Equality Training. This would give consideration to all disability issues (e.g, reasonable accommodation and positive action) related to such legislation. The overview should also look at victimisation, discrimination and harassment or sexual harassment. It should also include a focus on the implications of such legislation for behaviour of staff in relevant areas of work.

Learning Objectives should include:
⦁ What do we mean by disability as an equality issue?
⦁ How does discrimination exist in society?
⦁ What legislation covers disabled people’s rights to equal status and employment opportunities?
⦁ How can people with disabilities face multiple discriminations and/or inequalities?
⦁ What does it mean to accept disability as a cultural experience?

4. Disability and Communication
Owing to the historical segregation of people with disabilities, non-disabled people often have little or no experience of working or socialising with people with disabilities. This unfamiliarity can create anxieties at the prospect of sharing workspace or providing services to disabled people. A trainer will be prepared to give time to discussing appropriate etiquette (the language to employ and the behaviours to use) in a range of situations tailored to the individual’s actual or expected experience. The question of how an organisation interacts with disabled people may arise, and this can be addressed in a way that includes the concepts of empowerment and consultation.

Learning Objectives should include:
⦁ What language should I use when interacting with/about people with disabilities?
⦁ How does my organisation interact with people with disabilities?
⦁ What myths and misconceptions are perpetuated in society about people with disabilities?
⦁ How does media imagery portray people with disabilities?

5. Proactive Approach

Aside from the requirements of legislation, the organisation and its staff, through the training process, may develop thoughts on how procedures and practices could be modified to better include people with disabilities. Before any training is put in place, the purchaser and the trainer will be able to discuss strategies for eliciting such thoughts and ideas and bringing them back to management.

Learning Objectives should include:
⦁ What is disability equality proofing?
⦁ What are my organisation’s equal opportunities policies and procedures?
⦁ What is accessibility?
⦁ How could the accessibility of my organisation be improved?
⦁ How can I improve my own practices to be more inclusive of people with disabilities?

Business Benefits for an Inclusive Organisation:
An organization that appreciates the diverse identities of its employees and customers can provide a higher quality of service to all stakeholders. An organization that values diversity and promotes disability equality can have a wider pool of applicants for positions of employment. If an organization has embedded disability equality into its ethos, it is more likely to be viewed as an ‘employer of choice’ by potential employees. Existing employees who acquire a disability will also be more comfortable in disclosing their disability, and discussing possible requirements, if the organization proactively promotes disability equality.
An organization that is reflective of the diversity of its customer base can also be more effective in delivering service(s) in a way that focuses on their customers’ requirements.