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Demystifying Disability: Can We Talk


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Title: Demystifying Disability: Can We Talk

Demystifying Disability Can We Talk?
  • Keith W Drahn, Ph.D.
  • Director of Disability Services
  • Messiah College

Disability? So What?
  • Worlds largest minority population
  • Disability is the only minority group any one of
    us can join at any time
  • Many able-bodied people are uncomfortable around
    a person with a visible disability
  • Many people have invisible non-apparent
  • People with disabilities are over-represented
    among those below federal poverty guidelines
  • Unemployment rates remain at about 70
  • Only 18 of people with disabilities obtain a
    college education

Disability and Poverty
  • Lack of research and asset-building programs
    leaves many disabled persons in a financial and
    social limbo By Jessica Martin April 6, 2006
    -- The straightforward solution for many people
    living in poverty is building savings. For the 9
    million disabled Americans living in poverty, the
    answer isn't as simple.
  • "The poverty rate among Americans with
    disabilities is nearly double that of persons
    without disabilities, and while there is a
    complex web of federal and state-based programs
    offering financial assistance to eligible persons
    with disabilities, policy rules often preclude
    the accumulation of assets, which are often key
    for exiting poverty," says Michelle Putnam,
    Ph.D., assistant professor of social work at
    Washington University in St. Louis.

Financial Aid and Disability
  • Financial aid officers are not generally informed
    of a students disability
  • Universities are prohibited from asking students
    to identify a disability in their application
  • Awareness may come only during a face-to-face
    conversation with the student or parent
  • Some will reveal a disability early others hide
  • Some private scholarships may be designated only
    for students with disabilities
  • Perceptions of hostility or discrimination toward
    a student with a disability can result in civil

Who is Disabled?
  • Americans with Disabilities Act
  • 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.
  • Discrimination occurs when a person with a
    disability is denied equal access or equal
    treatment on the basis of their disability when
    they are otherwise qualified
  • Work closely with Office of Disability Ser vices
    to determine who is eligible as disabled.

Otherwise Qualified?
  • A student with a disability must be able to meet
    the standards of the program with or without
    assistive technologies.
  • If a student cannot meet the standards with or
    without the use of assistive technologies or
    accommodations, they may not be otherwise
    qualified cannot perform the essential functions
    of a job or required task
  • Not generally a financial aid issue

ADA Amendments Act Expanded Definitions
  • Major life activities include, but are not
    limited to, caring for oneself, performing manual
    tasks, seeing, hearing, eating, sleeping,
    walking, standing, lifting, bending, speaking,
    breathing, learning, reading, concentrating,
    thinking, communicating, and working.
  • Major Bodily Functions include, but are not
    limited to, functions of the immune system,
    normal cell growth, digestive, bowel, bladder,
    neurological, brain, respiratory, circulatory,
    endocrine, and reproductive functions.

Talking About Disability
  • Language is dynamic
  • Words change
  • Words matter
  • Acceptable terms today become pejorative tomorrow
  • Idiot, Imbecile, Moron, Complete Idiot
  • Mental Retardation
  • Educable, trainable, severe-profound
  • Retard
  • Developmental disability
  • Intellectual impairment

Negative Words
  • abnormal
  • burden
  • crippled
  • deformed
  • handicapped
  • incapacitated
  • imbecile
  • maimed
  • moron
  • palsied
  • pathetic
  • pitiful
  • poor
  • spastic
  • stricken with
  • suffer
  • tragedy
  • unfortunate

Disability-embedded language
  • Negative Terms
  • Okay to use
  • Blind as a bat
  • Deaf as a post
  • Retard
  • Wheelchair-bound
  • Confined to a wheelchair
  • Deaf and dumb
  • Victim of condition
  • Psycho
  • Crippled vehicle
  • I hear you
  • I see what you mean
  • I feel for you

Why it Matters
  • Attitudes are the greatest barrier to achieving
    normalcy and acceptance
  • Everyone has a right to be treated with dignity
    and respect
  • Appearances can be misleading
  • Physical disabilities do not equate to
    intellectual disabilities
  • Adults with disabilities should not be treated as
  • Most people with disabilities have accepted their
    situation and do not suffer
  • Always use people-first language

Dr Stephen Hawking
Use People First Language
  • Replace the deaf or the blind with people who
    are deaf person/man/woman who is blind
  • Replace mentally retarded with person with an
    intellectual disability
  • Replace epileptic with she has epilepsy
  • Avoid use of such terms as afflicted with,
    victim of, suffers from
  • A person is NOT wheelchair-bound, nor confined to
    a wheelchair. Say she uses a wheelchair
  • Offer a welcoming attitude and willingness to
    talk about disability secondary to a prospective
    students skills and abilities.

What are the issues?
  • 1. Eligibility for funds
  • Full-time eligibility at less than 12 credits
  • 24 credits/year hard to achieve for some students
    with severe disabilities
  • Students need full access to libraries, food
    service, housing, health/counseling
  • May need to adjust local funding to help
    compensate for ineligibility for federal
  • Disability-specific scholarships
  • High-maintenance conditions require costly
    supports financial aid formulas mean
    disability-specific scholarships are just used to
    replace other funds, not add to resources.

What are the issues?
  • 2. New eligibility waivers for students with
    intellectual disabilities
  • Inclusive movement is now extending to

What are the issues?
  • 3. Recruiting and retention requires greater
    sensitivity to individuals
  • A hostile or uncaring attitude can scare away
    qualified students
  • It costs more to recruit a new student than to
    keep one you already have
  • A reputation for being disability-friendly can
    attract 5-10 of your recruits
  • What would a 5 increase in numbers do for your
    bottom line?

What are the issues?
  • 4. Language matters
  • Insensitive comments can be hurtful and drive
    qualified students away
  • Positive, understanding comments can increase a
    students confidence in deciding to enroll
  • Happy customers tell their friends and become
    recruiters for your institution unhappy
    customers tell them to look elsewhere

What are the issues?
  • 5. Legal Issues
  • Accessibility of services is important
  • Denying someone a service because you think they
    have a disability is illegal under the ADA, even
    if the person does not have a disability.
  • Perceptions are very important. They can lead to
    actions that are discriminatory

Changes are Coming Growth Areas
  • Autism Spectrum Disorders
  • Aspergers Syndrome
  • Non-Verbal Learning Disability
  • Psychological Disorders
  • Anxiety disorders
  • OCD Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
  • Eating Disorders
  • Tourette Syndrome

Growth Areas Intellectual Disabilities
  • Financial Assistance for students with
    Intellectual Disabilities
  • HEAOA added section 484(s) to the HEA to provide
    that a student with intellectual disabilities who
    enrolls in a comprehensive transition and
    postsecondary program is eligible to receive
    title IV, HEA program funds under the Federal
    Pell Grant, FSEOG and FWS programs

Intellectual Disabilities
  • What is a comprehensive transition and
    postsecondary program?
  • Offered by an IHE
  • Designed to support students with ID seeking to
    continue academic, career and technical, and
    independent living instruction to prepare for
    gainful employment
  • Includes an advising and curriculum structure
  • Participants not less than half-time
  • Enrolled in credit-bearing courses
  • Auditing in inclusive settings w/o credit
  • Enroll in inclusive non-credit-bearing,
    non-degree courses
  • Internships/work-based training in inclusive
  • Student activities, government, clubs, social
    events, sports
  • Satisfactory progress as determined by the

Intellectual Disabilities, continued
  • Under the newly added provision, the student
    does not have to be a high school graduate (or
    have obtained a GED, or have passed an ability-to
    benefit test) and does not have to be enrolled in
    a program that leads to a degree or certificate

  • Expect to see
  • more transition programs developed cooperatively
    between public high schools and local colleges
    and universities.
  • Part-time, dual enrollments in HS and university
  • Unique curricula for some, adapted integrated
    curricula for others.
  • New regulations assure institutions do not
    jeopardize title IV funds by admitting students
    with intellectual disabilities into nono-degree
    or non-certificate programs.

Military Veterans
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome
  • Orthopedic Impairments
  • Traumatic Brain Injury
  • Deaf or hard-of-hearing
  • Blind or low-vision
  • Disfigurement
  • Chronic and Acute Depression

  • Do-It (University of Washington)
  • http//
  • Federal Resources on Disability
  • Incight Go Getter Scholarship Incight
    971-244-0305 http//
  • Messiah College Office of Disability Services
  • http//

Financial Resources for Some
  • Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Plan for
    Achieving Self Support (PASS)
  • State Vocational Rehabilitation Services

Now you Know!
  • Any Questions?