audio version (opens in a new tab)
I stive to remain open to learning new things. On April 7, 2021, I attended a virtual webinar from the
Based in Pennsylvania. As a person with a disability, I was interested in learning about the workshop
“Fostering Cultural Humility in Disability Services”.
The link above describes the workshop’s purpose. At time of writing my blog post, the recording is not currently available. However, on
you can find
In this article, I will summarize what I learned during the workshop.
Inclusion, Culture and Disability Explanation
The presenter began by focusing on inclusion and culture, as well as an explanation of disability.
Some disability organizations are considering outreach and marketing methods. Inclusion is also important for diversity. Adults with disabilities are 3 times more likely to experience cancer, heart disease or diabetes. Disability is a condition of the mind or body which can present challenges when interacting with people or performing tasks. Disability is one dimension of culture. Some additional cultural dimensions include education, lifestyle and values. The presentation then focused on defining cultural humility.
Cultural humility means acknowledging learning gaps and a willingness to learn new things. It is also important to recognize individual strengths and challenges. Example from the workshop: clients know more than a service provider. Collaboration and listening to each other helps foster cultural humility. Cultural competency means knowledge about diversity. The presenter emphasized at least twice during her presentation that race, gender and disability are connected not separate. Barriers which some people with disabilities encounter were then discussed.
Attitudinal Barriers and Bias
Attitudinal barriers mean negative perceptions, such as about disabilities, without having relevant experience. This can lead to negative stereotypes. For example, a court may decide someone with a disability is unable to take custody of children. Bias means being in favor of or against certain behaviors or values. Bias can interfere with decision-making. However, the presenter emphasized that everyone has bias to some degree because it can be intentional or not. Example from my life: when communicating by telephone with my credit card issuer during recent months, I tended to emphasize my blindness when explaining why it took longer to follow directions. I realized after problems were resolved that the financial institution did not need to know about my disability. The presenter’s explanation about bias helped me understand that my desire to explain about my disability unnecessarily may have been rooted in bias favoring disability education. In such a situation in the future, it would be helpful for me to just say it takes me longer to do something without being so disability-focused. The workshop wrapped up with some miscellaneous and important details.
Some U.S. disability statistics were shared during the workshop. 25% (1 in 4) of African-Americans have a disability, 20% (1 in 5) of white people and 30% (3 in 10) of Alaska natives.
It is important to become comfortable with being uncomfortable. It is also crucial to ask questions. Educating people, such as speaking up at appropriate times, can also make a difference. Example: When Paratransit drivers have referred to my mobility cane as a stick, I have tried to educate them by pointing out it is a tool which helps me move around. People-first language also matters. The presenter gave example of saying “person with a disability” instead of “handicapped”. My own example of people-first language is saying “person who is blind” rather than “the person who can’t see”. Bottom line: be flexible and willing to learn.
Question for readers: If you experienced attitude barriers or bias due to a disability, what happened and how did you respond? I will return with another article.