Disability Awareness Training for VITA Volunteers

Training for VITA volunteers
What is disability
Different types of disabilities
People First Language
Tips for Communicating
Service Animals
Policies and Procedures
Site Coordinator Training
Site Accessibility
Why You Are Receiving Disability
Awareness Training
 (Coalition Name) is a part of National
Disability Institute’s Real Economic Impact
Network with over 900 partners in 100 cities
that are working to build inclusive
communities of practice and increase
outreach to persons with disabilities.
Disability Awareness Training
• Provides information that will allow you to
interact more effectively with people with
• Provides basic tips on interacting with persons
with disabilities.
• Eliminates myths and increases awareness of a
growing demographic we serve in VITA Sites.
Who has a disability?
What is disability?
The American with Disabilities Act (ADA)
Definition of Disability:
An individual with a disability is a person who
• Has a physical or mental impairment that
substantially limits one or more major life
• Has a record of such an impairment or
• Is regarded as having such an impairment
Different Types of Disabilities
Speech / Communication
Mental Health / Emotional
Health Conditions
More in common than not!
Something we all have in common
Any one of us could become a
part of this demographic at
any given moment.
In the last 10 minutes, 498 Americans became a
person with a disability
National Safety Council, Injury Facts 2008 Ed.
• 58 million Americans with disabilities…..1 in 5
(20% of the population)
• 20 million families have at least one (1) member
with a disability
• 51% of taxpayers with disabilities earn less than
$21,000 a year
Go back to the GOLDEN RULE
Treat Others as You would like to be
Assumptions that are made about a
person or group’s character or
attributes, based on a general image
of a particular group of people.
Do not get swept up in Stereotypes
Aaron Fotheringham, Extreme
Wheelchair Sportsman
• Persons with disabilities are all
ages, come from diverse cultures
and financial backgrounds.
• People with disabilities work
• They have families
• Not all persons with disabilities
are on or receive benefits such as
SSI, Medicaid etc.
• They have goals and dreams
• All people with disabilities do not
necessarily want or need
Other common stereotypes….
• People who are blind or have low vision may wear glasses
• People who are deaf may have excellent speech and read lips
but not all
• Not all people that use wheelchairs are completely paralyzed
– some may transfer or be able to walk short distances
• Delayed or slow speech is not necessarily a sign of a slowed
mental process
• Persons with learning disabilities can be highly intelligent
individuals they simply have a different way of learning
People First Language
“People-first” language helps us remember that
people are unique individuals and that their
abilities or disabilities are only part of who
they are.
When speaking about people with disabilities
the rule of thumb is to always think about
putting the person first.
Examples of People First
Accessible or Barrier Free (such as
parking or entrances, seating,
restrooms etc)
Person who is hard of hearing
Partially Deaf, Hearing Impaired
Person who has low vision
Partially Blind, Vision Impaired
Wheelchair User
Wheelchair Bound
People or Person with Disability
Handicapped, the disabled, physically
challenged, crippled etc
Person with a developmental/
intellectual disability
Retarded, mentally defective,
Born with a disability.
Birth defect
# 1 Tip for Communication
Tips in General
 Offer to shake hands when introduced. People with limited
hand use or an artificial limb can usually shake hands and
offering the left hand is an acceptable greeting
 Treat adults as adults! Address people with disabilities by
their first names only when extending that same familiarity
to all others.
 ASK FIRST - If you offer assistance, (always ask before
assisting someone), then wait until the offer is accepted.
Then ask the individual with a disability for instructions on
how you may assist them.
 RELAX. Don’t be embarrassed if you happen to use common
expressions such as “see you later” or “Did you hear about
this?” that seem to relate to a person’s disability.
Tips for Communicating with Individuals
who are Blind or have Low Vision
• When approaching state clearly who you are, speaking
in a normal tone of voice. Do not shout
• When conversing in a group, remember to identify
yourself and the person to whom you are speaking.
• Tell the individual when you are leaving
• Do not attempt to lead an individual without first
asking; if they choose to do so, allow the person to
hold your arm/elbow
• Be descriptive and specific when giving directions
For example if steps, mention how many and location
such as left or right
• If you are offering a seat, either give verbal cues or if
acting as a guide gently place the individual’s hand on
the back or arm of the chair so that the person can
locate their seat.
Tips for Communicating with Individuals who
are Deaf or Hard of Hearing
• Gain the person’s attention before starting a conversation (i.e.
gently wave your hand in their line of vision or tap the person
gently on the shoulder or arm)
• If the individual uses a sign language interpreter, speak
directly to the person, not the interpreter
• Know that some people who are deaf speak quite clearly and
then others are non-verbal
• When speaking with someone who reads lips, look directly at
the individual, face the light, speak clearly, in a normal tone of
voice and keep your hands away from your face. Avoid
smoking or chewing gum.
Tips for Communicating with
Individuals with Limited Mobility
• If possible, put yourself at the wheelchair user’s eye level.
(especially if speaking to a person for more than a few
• Do not lean on a wheelchair or any other assistive device
• Never patronize people who use wheelchairs by patting them
on the head or shoulder
• Do not assume the individual wants to be pushed – ASK FIRST
• When assisting in going up or down a curb, ask if he or she
prefers going forward or backward. When pushing a
wheelchair and entering an elevator, enter and turn the
person around to face the opening doors (not facing a wall)
• OFFER assistance if the individual appears to be having
difficult opening a door
• Do not take mobility aids away from users unless they
request it or it is required for safety reasons. If it is necessary
let the user know exactly where there equipment is being
Tips for Communicating with
Individuals with Speech Impairments
• If you do not understand something the
individual says, do not pretend that you do. Ask
the individual to repeat what he or she said and
then repeat it back.
• Be patient and concentrate on what the
individual is saying. Take as much time as
• Do not speak for the individual or attempt to
finish her or his sentences.
• If you are having difficulty understanding the
individual, consider writing as an alternative
means of communicating, but first ask the
individual if this is acceptable and only as a last
Tips for Communicating with
Individuals with Intellectual Disabilities
• If you are in a public area with many distractions,
consider moving to a quiet or private location.
• Speak to the individual directly in simple to
understand components without being
patronizing and in a normal tone of voice.
• Be prepared to repeat what you say, orally or in
• OFFER assistance completing forms or
understanding written instructions and provide
extra time for decision-making. Wait for the
individual to accept the offer of assistance, do not
over-assist or be patronizing.
All service animals must be allowed in all places of business with
their owners.
All service animals wear official identification such as a vest.
It is required for a service animal to have an ID card
There is never a reason to evict or deny access to a service animal.
Definition of a Service Animal
 Any dog that is individually trained to perform
tasks for people with disabilities. Such as guiding
people who are blind, alerting people who are
deaf, pulling wheelchairs, alerting and protecting
a person who is having a seizure or performing
other special tasks.
Service animals are working
animals, not pets.
• Do expect that the animal is to be kept under control by the
handler at all times. A handler cannot be asked to remove his
or her service animal unless – the animal is out of control and
the owner does not take effective control (example excessive
barking) or – animal poses a direct threat to health or safety of
• Do allow service animals into all public establishments
• May ask the person if they have a disability, if an animal is a
service animal or ask how the animal assists the individual but
cannot require special ID cards (certification) for the animal or
ask specifics about the person’s disability.
Don’t ask the person what their disability is
Don’t ask the person to demonstrate the animal’s tasks
Don’t ask for “proof” of disability or training.
Don’t pet or talk to the animal without asking the owner first,
because it may distract the animal or harm the individual
Don’t feed the animal, many are on strict diets
Don’t assume the animal will bite, service animals are selected for
proper temperament and have been through many hours of training
and socialization
Don’t assume the individual is blind, many individuals have
“invisible” disabilities such as epilepsy, heart conditions, etc.
Don’t charge extra fees, isolate from other patrons or treat them
less favorably.
Don’t think you are required to provide care or food for a service
animal or provide special location to relieve itself (Example cannot
ask or expect you to walk their dog outside)
Policies and Procedures
What are the policies & procedures for serving
people with disabilities at your VITA site?
 How do you process an accommodation request from a
customer with a disability?
 What are the site’s accessible features and customer
service practices?
Reasonable modifications are acceptable
 Service Animals
 Food and Drink
 Extended
Appointment Time
 Alternate Signature
Tips on Site Accessibility
Site Accessibility is everyone’s mission!
 In order to ensure continued accessibility it is
important everyone is aware of common
barriers to avoid on a day to day basis.
Auxiliary Aids & Services
“Auxiliary aids and
are devices or
services that enable
communication for
people with
Effective Communication
When a person with a disability requests an
auxiliary aid or service:
 Consult with the individual about
their choice of aid or service.
 Businesses cannot charge the
person for the communication
aids or services provided.
Accessible Parking
You may have
accessible parking
available however are
your access lanes and
curb cuts clear of
possible debris and
other barriers
Facility Access:
Building Entrance
If there are stairs at the
main entrance…
 Where is the ramp or
lift, or other alternative
accessible entrance?
 Where are the signs
indicating the location
of the nearest
accessible entrance?
Facility Access:
Accessible Route
 Is the route of travel
stable, firm and slipresistant?
 Is the route at least
36 inches wide?
Facility Access:
Accessible Route
Can all objects protruding into the accessible route
be detected by a person with a visual disability
using a cane?
Access to VITA Services
Are VITA services located on an accessible path of
travel that is at least
36 inches wide?
Access to VITA Services
In circulation paths, are all obstacles cane-detectable
(located within 27 inches of the floor or higher than
80 inches, or protruding less
than 4 inches from the wall)?
Wrap Up
Use Common Sense
The Golden Rule
Be Courteous
Don’t assume
Where to Get More Information
National Disability Institute
1667 K Street, NW - Suite 640
Washington, DC 20006
Voice: 202.296.2040
Email: [email protected]
Website: www.realeconomicimpact.org

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