The first and most important concept to understand is that employees with a disability are no different than any other employee. They may in fact have some support requirements, but they too, in the event of an emergency need to GET OUT.
The differences between people with and without a disability are much less than what we all have in common. Therefore let us shift our thinking to ‘people first – disabilities second’.
Meeting the needs of people with a disability can be as simple as improving access by shifting furniture, or as complex as analysing each step of a particular job and modifying processes, equipment and tasks to maximise independence.
Disability conditions affect different people in different ways depending on age, cause, attitude, family background, opportunity, adjustment to the physical limitations and other factors. For example, one person with quadriplegia may be competing in the Paralympics while another is studying for their PHD. Some people decide to spend the rest of their life sitting in the sun checking out the form guide. So don’t make the mistake of assuming you know all about a person with a disability just because you have some knowledge about a particular disability condition.
Disability conditions fall into four broad categories:
Physical – Physical disability conditions can be defined as; Loss or impairment of body including limbs, trunk and bodily functions. Examples include; Spinal Cord Injuries, Amputations, Stroke and Multiple Sclerosis. These in most cases have associated mobility limitations.
Sensory – Sensory disability conditions include the five senses. Touch, Taste, Smell, Sight, Hearing. Like the Physical conditions Sensory disability conditions can be defined as; Loss or impairment of one or more of the five senses. In some cases sensory disability conditions have associated mobility limitations.
Intellectual – Intellectual disability conditions include conditions such as; Down Syndrome, Autism, Fragile X Syndrome and Angelman Syndrome. In some cases intellectual disability conditions have associated mobility limitations; however the possible perceptual impairments are a greater concern in an emergency setting.
Mental Health – The term Mental Health refers to a group of conditions that have a effect on a persons mental functionality. These conditions are generally different to the other three conditions as they fluctuate and are a result of an intermittent episodic process. Some of these conditions are; Depression, Schizophrenia, Bipolar Disorder and Anxiety.
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