Disability

What Should the Employers do to keep People with Disabilities Stay in Work?

Disability

In the United Kingdom and many other countries, it is against the law to discriminate between two people at workplace due to any personal characteristic, e.g. being disabled. The discrimination must not be necessarily directly illegal; any indirect discrimination that favors one group of people over the other is included in it.

3 out of 5 disabled people quit their jobs because of the difficulties they face with the working environment. The disabled people have quite a lot of potential, they might have one impairment but they are talented in some other way. Employers are being encouraged by many organizations to hire people with disabilities for the betterment of their organization. I am providing here some very useful suggestions for the employers on how to make suitable adjustments for people with disabilities so that they can stay in work.

People with Hearing Impairment:

An employee might have partial or complete hearing impairment. The problem could have been since birth or it might have gradually increased over time. The employee should make suitable adjustments for such a person. He should provide adapted telephones with adjustable volume. The seat allotted to him should be away from the distracting noises, in a quiet area. Moreover, the information should be provided to him in accessible formats, like written data.

People with Visual Impairment:

Such people should be provided with documents in Braille format or audio form. A special tour of the workplace should be arranged for them so that they become familiar with the surroundings. If they are provided with software or technology that converts text to sound or magnifies the onscreen image, they will feel comfortable. Advances in technology have made it possible for the partially sighted as well as blind people to overcome many barriers and stay in work. If provided with the right training and technology and if they have good skills and experience, they can do just any job.

People with Physical Impairment:

Physical impairment limits the ability of a person to do physical activity like walking. Some invisible impairment like epilepsy and respiratory malfunctions are also included in this category. For such people, assistive equipments like voice activated software can help. They usually have their own mobility aids but the company can also offer them one, just to keep the potential employee stay in work. The employee should either let the person work at ground-floor or make sure that there are wheelchair ramps present at the required places and that the way is obstruction-free.

People with Mental Disturbances:

There can be an employee who is going through some disturbed mental condition like anxiety, depression or bipolar disorder. By understanding his problem and with the support of the employer, such a person can succeed at a job. The employers should give them liberty in selecting their start and end times or part times and should allow them to have adaptable break times. His colleagues should be encouraged to help him out in planning and managing the tasks. Even providing them a quiet place to work peacefully will help.

People with Dyslexia or ASCs:

A person having Autistic Spectrum Conditions (ASCs) has difficulties with communication, meeting new people and understanding others feelings but they have sharp memory for figures and are accurate at their work. Adjustment that can be made for such people is to avoid language that is abstract. Similarly people with dyslexia face difficulty in reading and writing but they are very innovative and creative. Such employees should be allowed to use digital recorder to record the meeting instead of making written notes.

The Fight of DPAC

Disability

DPAC was formed by a group of disabled people after the 3rd October mass protests against cuts in Birmingham, England. 3rd October saw the first mass protest against the austerity cuts and their impact on disabled people. It was led by disabled people under the name of The Disabled Peoples’ Protest.

DPAC is about disabled people and their allies. Though it is UK based but the organization understands that disabled people in other countries also suffer austerity cuts and a lack of fundamental rights, so they openly welcome all to join them in fighting for justice and human rights for all disabled people around the globe.

What originally started off under the label of The Disabled Peoples’ Protest on the 3rd of October 2010 was later transformed into DPAC- an organization that stands up for the rights of the disabled community. Based in the United Kingdom, Disabled People Against Cuts is a non- hierarchical organization that operates from the Social Model of Disability and believes in equality and full human rights for disabled people. It helps the disabled community and their allies in campaigns against the austerity cuts and their impact on disabled people.

History

The first mass protest against the impact of government imposing cuts on the lives of disabled people was seen on the 3rd of October 2010. It was arranged outside the Conservative Party annual conference and was exclusively led by disabled people in the pouring rain in Birmingham, England. Afterwards, the leading activists of The Disabled Peoples’ Protest founded the organization Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC)

The fight of DPAC

DPAC is basically working under the motto of “We demand rights, not charity”. It believes in providing full human rights and equality to the disabled people. Just because someone becomes disabled or sick doesn’t mean that the country has the right to destroy the life of that individual. It stands against the injustices and austerity measures of the government which targets the disabled community.

Since the organization operates from the Social model of disability, it demands full citizenship for all disabled people and is strongly against the cutbacks that hit the disabled people 9 times harder than the non-disabled ones. It opposes the closure of Employment and Support Allowance, Personal Independence Payment, Independent Living Fund, the bedroom tax and families bill 2013; because these closures are heavily impacting the disabled people in the UK.

The organization that grew from a small group of people who came together in an anti-cuts march has now membership of more than 2000 formal members. The online campaigns have enabled the DPAC to gather with 15.7k members of the Facebook page and 18.1k followers on Twitter.

A number of civil disobedience actions have also been carried out by the DPAC. All these non-violent, peaceful actions were meant to give the disabled people their basic rights of equality and justice. Some of these include the blockade of Regents Street in London, Blockade of Trafalgar Square and the ‘Eviction’ of Iain Duncan Smith. Reclaim the power was yet another protest camp arranged to emphasize on the need of providing the disabled people with affordable, clean and sustainable energy. DPAC has a firm belief that its struggle is going to be fruitful.

A Peek through the Social Model of Disability

Disability

The Social Model of Disability says that it is the society that is a cause of the disability in a person with impairment or difference. The Social Model recognizes that there are people with certain psychological or physical differences but the barriers of the society make them disabled rather than their own impairment. The Social Model explains how the society prevents people with disabilities from having their own jobs and independent living.

The society does not give consideration to the people with differences and this prejudice causes the non-impaired persons to look down at the impaired persons as not normal. The Social Model of Disability evolved because of the negative attitudes and prejudiced views of the non-disabled people.

The Emergence:

The Social Model is not a diagrammatic model like other sociological and psychological models. It was a progressive concept that evolved in response to the Medical Model of Disability. It was a result of the society’s negative attitude towards the people with disabilities which made them feel isolated and demoralized. The traditional Medical Model of Disability did not illustrate their personal experience of disability or assist in easing their ways of living. As a consequence, the disabled people themselves stood up for their right and the Social Model of Disability was formed.

A Comparison of the Two Models:

The Medical Model of Disability says that the impairments or differences are due to the people themselves. The Social Model says that the disability is caused by the society. According to the Medical Model, the impairments should be fixed by the medical treatments. It looks at what is wrong with the person and not the wrongs of the society. For example, if a boy with visual impairments wants to read the newly published book so that he can participate in discussion with his sighted friends, the Medical Model will either ignore his wish or provide only a few solutions. Under the Social Model, full text audio recording will be available when the first book is published.

Basic Definitions:

The Social Model of Disability makes a sharp distinction between impairment and disability. These were the basic definitions pertaining to the Social Model that were first proposed by the UPIAS Union of Physically impaired Against Segregation:

Impairment: lacking part or all of a limb, or having a defective limb, organ or mechanism of the body.

Disability: the disadvantage or restriction of activity caused by a contemporary social organization which takes little or no account of people who have physical impairments and thus excludes them from participation in the mainstream of social activities.

According to these definitions, impairment is only a bodily state compromising any physical or cognitive malfunctioning. Whereas the ways in which the society arranges its basic activities like work, leisure or transport as well as the attitude it shows towards the impaired people gives rise to disability.

The type of society in which people with disabilities live has a profound effect on how their disability is structured and experienced. People with disabilities were living in a disabling world but with the evolution of Social Model of Disability they were granted some facilities to live as full and free citizens.

Lowering Your Odds of Becoming Disabled Later in Life

Disability

Not every disability is apparent at birth. You can actually become disabled throughout your life. A simple work injury can turn into chronic pain and one single bad habit can turn into life-threatening illnesses. If you do not practice prevention or take a pro-active route when it comes to living a healthy lifestyle, you may be doing yourself a dis-service. In order to reduce your odds at becoming disabled as you age, here are some healthy lifestyle tips to abide by!

  • Keep your emotional and mental well-being at the forefront of your mind and habits. Make sure to cultivate healthy, happy and positive relationships with those around you. This includes your family, friends, co-workers and occasional acquaintances. Make sure you take time to relax and provide yourself with balance between work and life. Make sure you reduce the amount of stress you are feeling as too much stress can cause physical conditions that can be debilitating.
  • Watch how you are using your back, arching your spine, or pressuring your joints. Back pain and arthritis are hugely debilitating as you age. Make sure that if you are overweight, you work on lowering it. If you do any sort of strength training with body weight or weights, that you are doing proper formation as this can hasten arthritis and bad joints.
  • Get your exercise in! For every morning that you don’t feel like getting out of bed to do your exercise, you are increasing your chances of heart disease, obesity and high blood pressure. Getting at least thirty to sixty minutes of exercise for at least three to four times a week is paramount to keeping your body healthy.
  • Quit smoking if you do! Even if you do it socially, stop. Not only can it cause cancer, but it can cause heart disease and stroke. Kick the habit!
  • Get screenings for cancer and regular checkups! Remember that early detection is key here!
  • Ultimately, watch your weight. No you don’t have to be super skinny, but if you are overweight or obese, then you need to start watching what you eat and how much you weight. As long as you are in your proper weight range and eating healthy, then you have already lowered your risk for heart attack and high blood pressure.

Essentially, living a healthier lifestyle while eating proper foods and getting enough exercise, should be enough to reduce your chances of becoming disabled. Accidents do happen, but there is a lot you can control when it comes to maintaining your body as you age.

 

Knowing Which Disability Dimension You Fit Into

Disability

A disability is an impairment to any portion of the physical body or the mind. A person can have a cognitive disability, a physical disability, or both. A disability will make it difficult for the person to do certain things, like learn, walk, or communicate with the world around them. What makes disabilities so unique is how adversely they effect an individual person. Two people with the same disability can be affected in completely different ways. There are three different dimensions according to the World Health Organization, which classify disabilities: impairment, activity limitation and participation restriction.

  • An impairment is a disability that effects the structure of a person’s body or mental functions. For instance, someone is impaired if they have loss of vision or memory loss.
  • Someone who has difficulty seeing, walking or problem solving will have an activity limitation.
  • Those who have difficulty working, doing recreational activities or obtaining healthcare due to not being able to complete daily activities, has a participation restriction. Depression, a disability that effects the mind, can be classified as a participation restriction disability as individuals find daily tasks difficult to complete.

Basically, activity limitation means that a person cannot execute a specific task or action, whereas participation restriction means that they find it difficult to execute, interact, or be involved with a life situation. Impairment on the other hand, can be divided into two sub-categories: structural and functional. A structural impairment means that the internal or external makeup of that individual’s body has a significant problem. An example of this is an individual who has an amputated leg or arm. A functional impairment is where an individual cannot or can only partially use a portion of their body. A hip joint that seizes can be considered a functional impairment.

A disability can be a part of one or all of these dimensions and sub-categories. For instance, a child that suffers from attention deficit disorder may fit into the participation and impairment categories. Not only can a child with ADD suffer from memory loss (impairment) but they can also have difficulty engaging in school due to being easily distracted (participation restriction). Knowing which dimension you fit into, or your child fits into, can help you better understand the disability, treatment, and lifestyle options needed to obtain a healthy, successful life.

Intellectual Disabilities and Their Causes

Disability

An intellectual disability is a condition that limits both a person’s ability to intellectually function and use adaptive behaviour. This means that an individual’s capability of learning, using reasoning and being able to use problem solving is severely limited. Plus, social and practical skills that go along with being able to adapt one’s behaviour to situations, is also impaired. An intellectual disability is the term used to describe disabilities that directly affect the cognitive ability of an individual.  Often intellectual disabilities will go hand-in-hand with developmental disabilities, which can be chronic conditions that affect both the cognitive and physical functions of a person.

How is an Intellectual Disability Determined?

In order for a person to be properly diagnosed with an intellectual disability, they need to be tested for specific limitations that affect their intellectual functions and their adaptive behaviour. Plus, the disability needs to be diagnosed or appear before the age of eighteen. In diagnosing an individual, an IQ test will be used to measure their intellectual functions which can include their capacity to: learn, reason, and problem solve. However, an IQ test is not the only tool used as conceptual skills, social skills and practical skills all need to be tested too. Conceptual skills include: language and literacy, the abstract of time and money, whereas social skills include: responsibility, self-esteem, ability to follow rules, social problem solving and even gullibility. Practical skills, on the other hand, include personal care, the ability to follow schedules, use money, and use transportation.

What Causes Intellectual Disabilities?

In most cases the brain becomes injured or there is a problem that prevents the brain from growing properly during term. There tends to be a lot of different variables that go into intellectual disabilities, but the most common include:

  • Illness or infection during pregnancy. Medication or illegal drugs that are taken during pregnancy can also cause disability.
  • Lack of oxygen during childbirth.
  • A head injury at any point during the child’s life.
  • Brain infections after birth.
  • A problem with the baby’s genes that causes issues during development. ‘

Children who do suffer from intellectual disabilities require a lot of help during school in order to learn proper life skills. However, most children who grow up with intellectual disabilities can live independently.

iBOT the Breakthrough Stair-Climbing Wheel Chair for the Disabled

Disability

The physically impaired people have to face difficulties at many public and/or work places because arrangements like ramps are not present. iBOT is the breakthrough technology that enables them to climb stairs without any difficulty.  It is a battery operated computerized system of sensors, electric gears and electric motors that can be used on even or uneven surfaces.

This revolutionary balancing wheel chair was developed by Dean Kamen at the company DEKA in collaboration with Johnson and Johnson. Independence Technology division was formed by J&J to continue the development and sales of iBOT.

Distinguishing Features:

The groundbreaking wheel chair has many features that distinguish it from other wheel chairs;

  • It does not require any assistant with you in any situation.
  • It allows you to climb stairs safely.
  • It can elevate you as high as 6 inches.
  • It can go through sand, water and gravel up to 3 inches deep.
  • It can ascend and descend curbs up to 5 inches, provided that the rider is experienced.
  • In case it is not occupied, it can be operated with a remote control.
  • It uses the patented iBALANCE software and gyroscopes that maintain the equilibrium when the iBOT is on two wheels only. This is the scenario of standing position and the user can even travel in this configuration.

The Science behind Balancing:

The iBOT contains a combination of software, motors, computers and motion balancing gyroscopes. The sensors sense the movement and a signal is sent to the computers. The computers send the processed information to the motor to rotate the wheels and the gyroscopes help to maintain stability. All the system is programmed to the centre of gravity of the user; the person leans forward and the iBOT moves forward, he leans backward and it moves in reverse direction.

On uneven surfaces, the integrated system constantly adjusts the seat orientation and wheel positions to keep the user stable and upright. In the Standing Mode, with the press of a button, it raises the user to a high position so that he can have eye contact in any business meeting or social interaction, or to reach a high shelf in office, home or market, or to see over the counters without any hesitation or difficulty. In the Stair Balancing Mode the front and rear wheels of iBOT roll up and over each other while maintaining the user’s centre of gravity and allowing him to climb up or down the stairs easily by holding the railing.

The Discontinuation of the Power Wheel Chair:

In 2009, 6 years after the release of iBOT in 2003, the sale of iBOT was halted by the Independence Technology due to its high cost. Support for existing units continued till 2013. People who used it expressed that they really feel disabled when they are without iBOT. It provided a new perspective to their lives and they felt sad when iBOT was discontinued. But the good news is that FDA has reclassified it from Class III medical device to Class II and Dean Kamen happily expresses that this reclassification means reincarnation of the powered wheel chair. The long dormant iBOT if available again will be a great blessing for the people with physical disabilities.

How Benefit Cutbacks Pose Threat to the Independent Living of Disabled People?

Disability

Can you imagine yourself living independently with some sort of mental illness, lost limb, or blindness, without any financial or physical support provided to you? Being able-bodied people, it is sometimes beyond our imagination to comprehend what being disabled really means. The pain and sufferings of such people can only be understood by putting oneself in their shoes.

We believe in the disabled people’s right to independent living. However, the Government policies in this regard are under constant manipulation leading to changes in the Disability Living Allowance, Independent Living Fund and the cutbacks in funding to the NHS. We need to understand that a disabled person can live independently if an only if he/she is provided with the necessary financial and physical support. The fact is that the benefit cutbacks are posing huge threat not only to the independent living of the disabled people, but also to their lives as a whole. The funds that used to make a huge difference in the lives of the disabled people are no longer available which is considered as a major attack on the rights of this community.

There are many such examples around us where a disabled person has been deprived of the funds and left in a state of shock and uncertainty. One such person is Kate Rae from Aveley, Thurrock, in Essex, who was told that she is no more eligible for the disability living allowance that she was getting since past four years. The motability car facility that used to help her commute to work was also taken back, thus forcing her to give up the job. Previously, Rae was awarded eight points thus qualifying her for assistance with daily living. She was getting £56 a week in daily care allowance along with aids like rail support to help her with the use of toilet. Similarly, she was getting assistance for dressing, undressing purposes. However, according to new criteria, she cannot score enough points to prove herself eligible for the allowance. She describes her condition as follows:

“Under the new scheme, I will no longer qualify. I don’t know what I’m going to do. How am I supposed to feed myself, clothe myself? Without these things, I can’t get ready to work.”

This is an insight to one such story and it is feared that around 200,000 disabled people will lose benefits altogether under the new government scheme. It must be kept in mind that a huge number of disabled people have reportedly taken their lives in the past owing to the benefit cuts.

The Government Policy at the moment seems to forget that being disabled is not something by choice. No one wants to lead such a life, and if a person gets disabled, he/she does not lose the rights to independent living. We strongly recommend that instead of making life difficult for the disabled people, the government must take necessary steps to provide opportunities to help them live independently.

Extremely Common Disabilities Seen in Children

Disability

Children, just like adults, can either be born with a disability or obtain one from a traumatic incident. In this article, we’re going to explore a couple extremely common conditions that are seen in children and how they affect a child both in body and mind.

  • Down Syndrome: Is a rather common genetic disorder that affects children upon being born. It is a result of a third copy of the chromosome 21, which is easily distinguishable through the child’s particular set of features. The extra chromosome creates a distinctive look to only those who suffer from Down Syndrome. Children with the condition will have delays in physical and cognitive growth. Many children also suffer from a low IQ, however, with support and love they can lead relatively normal lives.
  • Cerebral Palsy: Has many causes, including physical trauma to the mother during term, or infections that are contracted. Cerebral Palsy is a physical condition where lesions in the brain cause issues with movement. This can include motor control movement, involuntary spasms, paralysis and visual impairment. In most cases, children with this condition require the use of a wheelchair.
  • Autism Spectrum Disorders: Both Asperger’s and Autism are put together on this spectrum. In most cases, children who suffer from either of these will have some form of delay in cognitive functions, will have trouble socializing and may have trouble with non-verbal and verbal communication. Unfortunately, children with any condition that falls under the spectrum are likely to be misunderstood by their peers. Those who specifically suffer from autism, will need guidance through school as they need close monitoring and one on one sessions.
  • ADD/ADHD: Attention deficit disorder or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder makes it so that the child can get easily distracted, become lethargic or have trouble paying attention over long periods of time. They often procrastinate a lot as well and can be extremely forgetful. This can have an adverse affect on their self-esteem if they are constantly getting judged by those around them.
  • Aphasia: Children who suffer from aphasia have trouble with language. This includes receiving information, forming speech and communicating. In severe cases, a child’s writing skills may also be affected. Aphasia is caused by injury to the head either during term or after birth. Those with aphasia need to be monitored as stressful situations can cause the child to become alarmed. When they become alarmed, they can lash out causing confusion to those around them. They need to be monitored 24/7 and have professional help with education.

In addition to the above, fetal alcohol syndrome is a leading cause of intellectual disabilities among children as it causes severe damage to a child’s brain throughout pregnancy which can cause issues with a child’s nervous system, physical characteristics and other functional systems.

 

Depression: A Legitimate Disability That Many Disregard

Disability

It is often the case that we don’t consider depression as an actual disability. It is different than someone who must use a wheelchair to get around or someone who requires extra tools in order to learn. However, just like those individuals who require learning tools or assistive devices, depression is indeed a legitimate disability that should not be disregarded. Sadly, because it is an invisible illness, many either don’t see it or believe that there is another cause for how an individual is acting or not acting. For instance, someone who has to drag themselves out of bed to work who has low productivity all day long, may be suffering from depression. But on the outside, many won’t believe that individual is disabled because they cannot see the depression or do not recognize it as such. Perhaps they will believe that the individual just didn’t sleep well the night before. Just because someone can go outside and play, get themselves to work every day, or force a smile does not mean they are not disabled or are not suffering from a mental illness.

An individual who is experiencing depression will grapple with severe feelings of despair over a long period of time. Every single aspect of their life may be affected by it and this includes their health, their emotions, their physical well-being, their relationships and most definitely their work. Now just because an individual is suffering from depression, does not mean that they are cured if they have one particular day where they feel better. An individual can go through several rounds of feeling severe emotions of despair. Unfortunately, when one thinks of someone who is suffering from depression, they think of an individual who cannot: get out of bed, has a hard time interacting with others, has low-productivity, has trouble sleeping, has severe emotions of despair and loneliness and although this is on the more severe end of the spectrum, someone who only suffers from a few of these things are still just as disabled. An individual who suffers from this mental illness will have better days than others, but without proper treatment, they will continue to suffer from the condition.

Awareness of the disease needs to be increased and the recognition of what one sees as disabling needs to be brought to the forefront. Depression has many disabling effects, but what one person may see as disabling will be different from person to person and country to country.

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