Disability Awareness:Your Role as an RAShannon KetchamViterbo University
POP QUIZ• It’s Time to Test Your Knowledge on Disability Awareness!!!
Myths, Misconceptions, & Realities of DisabilityTrue/False1. ___ Wheelchair users are paralyzed and, therefore, are confined to their chairs.2. ___ Deaf people cannot speak.3. ___ People with disabilities live very different lives than non-disabled people.4. ___ Students with disabilities have a higher absentee rate than students without disabilities.5. ___ It is important to place persons with disabilities in jobs where they will not fail.6. ___ Disabled people are not more likely to have accidents than other students.7. ___ Persons who are deaf make ideal employees in noisy work environments.8. ___ Considerable expense is necessary to accommodate students with disabilities.9. ___ Disabled people need special legal procedures.10. ___ Deaf persons do not appreciate music, theater, movies, etc., because they cannot hear.11. ___ Certain jobs are more suited to persons with disabilities.12. ___ Most people with cerebral palsy are less intelligent than the general population.13. ___ Blind people have exceptional hearing.14. ___ An employers workers compensation rates do not rise when he/she hires disabled workers.15. ___ People who have epileptic seizures tend to be violent against themselves or others during a seizure.16. ___ Persons with disabilities are unable to meet academic performance standards.17. ___ People with Learning Disabilities who cant use proper grammar are not very bright.18. ___ People who use wheelchairs cannot work in a fast-paced, pressured job.19. ___ If a person is having an epileptic seizure you should not place something in his/her mouth to prevent him/her from swallowing his/her tongue.20. ___ Persons with disabilities have problems with transportation.21. ___ Hearing aids correct hearing impairments.22. ___ Disabled people tend to do work of higher quality than non-disabled students.23. ___ All hearing impaired people can read lips.24. ___ Students with a disability are a good influence on other students. Viterbo University RA Training 2010 Disability Awareness - Handout A
Perceptions/Stereotypes• Pitiable and pathetic or sweet and innocent• A victim• Sinister or evil• Curiosities or freaks• Noble and triumphing over tragedy/Inspirations• Laughable or the butt of jokes• Having a chip on their shoulder• A burden or an outcast from society• A non-sexual person• Incapable of fully participating in everyday life
Do’s and Don’ts DO DON’T• Respect the student as a person. • Be afraid to make mistakes• Address the person with a disability directly • Feel like the person is more fragile rather than speaking through another person. emotionally than others. Constructive• Treat people as people criticism produces growth. (PEOPLE FIRST LANGUAGE) • Assume the person cant perform a certain• Expect diversity of preferences and opinions. task. Ask how he or she will do the task. Help the person figure it out.• Expect the same good living habits, the same behaviors and the same student issues from • Talk down to students with disabilities or treat students with disabilities as you would from them like children. others.• Give honest feedback to the student who has a disability just like everyone else.• Expect the student with a disability to have the same ambitions , goals, and talents as others.• Empower students to get involved and get to know their talents/skills versus their disabilities.
WHAT YOU CAN DO AS AN RA• Respect• Empower• Appreciate• Communicate• Think
References• Handouts ▫ Credit to: Kathleen Hurley, Emeritus Director, Services for Students with Disabilities, UW-Eau Claire• Presentation ▫ http://www.open.ac.uk/inclusiveteaching/pages/understanding- and-awareness/depictions-of-disability.php ▫ http://www.artbeyondsight.org/handbook/dat-accessibility- skills.shtml ▫ http://www.npr.org/programs/disability/ba_shows.dir/children. dir/highlights/stereot.html ▫ https://mail.exchange.viterbo.edu/owa/redir.aspx?C=1e8a1bb22 f894ecf829001ba3edc2ba8&URL=http%3a%2f%2fwww.disabilit yconsultants.com.au%2fuserfiles%2fCOMMUNICATING%2520 WITH%2520PEOPLE%2520WITH%2520DISABILITIES.pdf
Myths, Misconceptions, & Realities of DisabilityTrue/False 1. ___ Wheelchair users are paralyzed and, therefore, are confined to their chairs. 2. ___ Deaf people cannot speak. 3. ___ People with disabilities live very different lives than non-disabled people. 4. ___ Students with disabilities have a higher absentee rate than students without disabilities. 5. ___ It is important to place persons with disabilities in jobs where they will not fail. 6. ___ Disabled people are not more likely to have accidents than other students. 7. ___ Persons who are deaf make ideal employees in noisy work environments. 8. ___ Considerable expense is necessary to accommodate students with disabilities. 9. ___ Disabled people need special legal procedures. 10. ___ Deaf persons do not appreciate music, theater, movies, etc., because they cannot hear. 11. ___ Certain jobs are more suited to persons with disabilities. 12. ___ Most people with cerebral palsy are less intelligent than the general population. 13. ___ Blind people have exceptional hearing. 14. ___ An employers workers compensation rates do not rise when he/she hires disabled workers. 15. ___ People who have epileptic seizures tend to be violent against themselves or others during a seizure. 16. ___ Persons with disabilities are unable to meet academic performance standards. 17. ___ People with Learning Disabilities who cant use proper grammar are not very bright. 18. ___ People who use wheelchairs cannot work in a fast-paced, pressured job. 19. ___ If a person is having an epileptic seizure you should not place something in his/her mouth to prevent him/her from swallowing his/her tongue. 20. ___ Persons with disabilities have problems with transportation. 21. ___ Hearing aids correct hearing impairments. 22. ___ Disabled people tend to do work of higher quality than non-disabled students. 23. ___ All hearing impaired people can read lips. 24. ___ Students with a disability are a good influence on other students. Viterbo University RA Training 2010 Disability Awareness - Handout A
General ConsiderationsSo many of us have gone through our lives with little or no awareness of people with disabilities.The appearance of a person with a disability in your residence hall may prove unsettling.Questions like "How will this person communicate?" "How can this manage in the dorm?" arenormal. Hopefully, you will find some answers or assurances that will make your interactionswith students with disabilities positive.The biggest barriers that people with disabilities face, and the hardest barriers to remove, areother peoples negative attitudes and erroneous images of them. Some common pitfall reactionsto people with disabilities are: • All that matters is your label. Individuals adopt a label, usually based upon a persons disability. There is little regard for the individuality of the person, i.e. the blind have all the same needs; all quadriplegics have the same interests and abilities; people with any kind of physical impairment are "the handicapped" or "the crippled" and all become "cases." • I feel sorry for you. In this syndrome of pity, focus is inordinately on the negative aspects of the persons life: a life filled with pain, suffering, difficulty, frustration, fear, and rejection. Although you may be aware of these negative feelings and try not to show them, they often emerge through the tone of voice or in the expression on your face. • Do not worry, Ill save you. Characteristics of this pitfall are expressions such as the following: "Ill do it for you;" "Give the person a break;" "Dont worry about it; Ill take care of it;" "Its too difficult for you." • I know whats best for you. This syndrome is characterized by such expressions as "You shouldnt..." "Youll never..." "You cant..." or "Unrealistic dreamer." • Whos more anxious, you or I? Characteristic comments about the person are typically communicated to colleagues, family members and friends. These include "Makes me feel uncomfortable;" "Its so frustrating;" "I cant deal with ..."and "...inadequate."People with disabilities are just people who may happen to have more difficulty than otherswalking, moving, talking, learning, breathing, seeing, hearing, etc. They are remarkably likeeverybody else. They pass; they fail; they succeed; they have relationships; they take trips; theystay at home; they are bright people; they are good people; they are pains in the neck; they aretrying to get by. To free yourself from the limitations of the reactions above, keep in mind thesegeneral suggestions: Be generous with yourself. Admit that the uneasiness you feel is your problem (not the persons) and realize that it will pass with time and exposure. Do not be afraid of saying or doing the wrong thing. By avoiding communication or contact with a person with a disability, fears and misconceptions cannot be curbed. Discomfort can and will be eased if people with disabilities and people without disabilities see and interact with each other more often in work and social settings.
Talk directly to the person with a disability. Comments to attendants or friends such as"does he want to..." should be avoided. Even when a deaf person is using a sign languageinterpreter, look at the person and direct all questions and comments to the person.Use common sense and a positive, respectful attitude. When you are not sure ofyourself, ask the person with the disability the appropriate behavior. Keep in mind thoughthat each person may have different preferences. What is appropriate for one person maynot be appropriate for another person, even if they have the same type of disability.Expect the person with a disability to meet the same standards of performance as allemployees. They are here because of their abilities, not their disabilities.Do not apply blanket accommodations. Needs vary much among individuals, eventhose with the same type of disability. Therefore, all accommodations are notautomatically applicable to all persons with a particular disability. A disability can varyin terms of the degree of limitation, the length of time the person has been disabled(adjustment to the disability), and the stability of the condition.Do not discuss a persons disability or related needs with anyone who does not havea legitimate need to know. A persons disability and any work-related functionallimitations caused by that disability should be held in the strictest confidence.Do not feel that people with disabilities are getting unfair advantages.Accommodations help to even the field so that a person may be effective in their work.People with disabilities do not get by with less work. Often, they must work harder thantheir non-disabled co-workers.Pretending to understand someone¹s speech when you do not will hindercommunication, not enhance it. Some people with disabilities may have difficulty inexpressing ideas orally. Wait for the person to finish their thought, rather thaninterrupting or finishing it for them. If you do not understand what is being said, repeatback what you do not understand and the other person will fill in or correct yourunderstanding where needed. It is appropriate to ask the person if it may be easier forthem to write down the information, however, you must be prepared to accept the answerno.Recognize that a person with a disability may afford you a unique opportunity.What is not always readily appreciated is the unique input of a person whose lifeexperiences may be different from the norm. If we view this situation as a learningexperience rather than a problem, we can all be enriched by it. Viterbo University RA Training 2010 Handout B
Dos and Donts for RAsResident Assistants are being called upon to confront the perceptions and behaviors of their studentsregarding disabilities. Before you can take on this responsibility effectively, you must confront your ownperceptions of what it means to have a disability and the extent to which students with disabilities can andshould be an integral part of the residence hall environment. You can serve as role models to helpeliminate prejudices, but first it’s important to face up to your own perceptions and attitudes.The most important aspect to work with students with disabilities is to treat them in a manner that isequitable to the way you treat all students. Here are a few tips for effective residence hall life:Do • Respect the student as a person. • Ask the person who has a disability which is the best way to accommodate his or her physical limitations. • Expect the same good living habits, the same behaviors and the same student issues from students with disabilities as you would from others. • Give honest feedback to the student who has a disability just like everyone else. Everyone makes mistakes, and everyone wants feedback to improve. • Include students with disabilities in all activities in the dorm. If you’re unsure if an accommodations is needed, ask! • Expect the student with a disability to have the same ambitions as others.Dont • Be afraid of students with disabilities. They wont break, and you cant catch their disabilities. • Feel sorry for the persons disabilities. Get to know him or her by discovering their abilities. • Feel like the person is more fragile emotionally than others. Constructive criticism produces growth. • Assume the person cant perform a certain task. Ask how he or she will do the task. Help the person figure it out. • Talk down to students with disabilities or treat them like children.Empowerment techniquesOne of the most difficult challenges a RA may face is altering the perceptions and opinions of otherstudents. They are probably uninformed about a specific disability or about disabilities in general, and theresulting prejudices not only will impact the performance of students students with disabilities but mayalso violate Americans with Disabilities Act rules regarding perceptions of people with disabilities.The formation of activity groups or teams with interdependent tasks is one technique to help remedy thisproblem, by promoting greater contact between the student with a disability and other students. Assigningprojects or tasks and responsibilities to a team rather than individuals has the potential to help studentswith disabilities become a part of the mainstream in the residence hall. Too often these students canbecome isolated socially; this prohibits other students from gaining any knowledge or a betterunderstanding about them and their disabilities. Viterbo University RA Training 2010 Handout C