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Professional Communication Practices: Values, Ethics


Professional Communication Practices: Values, Ethics & Confidentiality * Delaware Division of Vocational Rehabilitation Talk about how your rooms will be set up and ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Professional Communication Practices: Values, Ethics

Professional Communication Practices Values,
Ethics Confidentiality
  • Delaware Division of Vocational Rehabilitation

  • Why is there a Public Vocational Rehabilitation
  • The Foundation of our Work
  • Attitudes Barriers Faced by People with
  • Putting our Work in the Context of Todays
  • Values, Ethics Confidentiality
  • Professional Communication Practices
  • Effective Communication Practices
  • First Impressions are Powerful

Why is there a Public VR Program?
  • The foundation of our work

Why is there a Public VR Program?
  • gt54 million people with disabilities in the
    United States.
  • Historically, the condition of having a
    disability has been viewed as tragic.
  • VSA Brief History of the Disability Movement,

Why is there a Public VR Program?
  • By the 19th century, institutionalization was the
    norm clients who needed to be cured (medical
  • This practice had the effect of excluding people
    with disabilities from the larger society and
    implied that something was inherently and
    permanently wrong with them. It provided no room
    for integration, and perpetuated myths of

Why is there a Public VR Program?
  • As thousands of WWI soldiers returned home, the
    first VR acts were passed in the 1920s to provide
    services to WWI veterans with newly acquired
  • But perhaps the biggest changes within the
    disability rights movement came with the civil
    rights movements of the 1960s.

Why is there a Public VR Program?
  • In the early 1970s, people with disabilities
    lobbied Congress to put civil rights language for
    people with disabilities into the 1972
    Rehabilitation Act.
  • After a group of people with disabilities marched
    on Washington, a revised 1973 Rehabilitation Act
    was passed.
  • For the first time in history, the civil rights
    of people with disabilities were protected by
    law. This law is the foundation of the public VR

Why is there a Public VR Program?
  • People with disabilities did not achieve broad
    civil rights until the enactment of the Americans
    with Disabilities Act (ADA) in 1990.
  • ADA ensures equal access to employment
    opportunities and public accommodations for
    people with disabilities. Congress identified the
    full participation, inclusion and integration of
    people with disabilities into society as a
    national goal.
  • Why is understanding this history important in
    how we approach our jobs in the public VR program?

Rehabilitation Act Amendments of 1998
  • Today, the public VR program is established in
    this federal law, which is to be reauthorized by
    Congress every five years.
  • The Rehab Act Amendments are part of the
    Workforce Investment Act (Title IV).
  • VR is funded by 78 federal dollars, and 22
    state dollars.

Rehabilitation Act Amendments of 1998
  • The purpose of the law is to empower individuals
    with disabilities to maximize employment,
    economic self-sufficiency, independence, and
    inclusion and integration into society.

Attitudes Barriers
  • Putting our work into the context of todays

Perception of Disability Society at Large
  • The greatest barriers individuals with
    disabilities have faced for decades and continue
    to face today are attitudinal barriers.
  • Source http//

Why do Attitudinal Barriers Exist Today?
FEAR Many people fear they will say or do the wrong thing and, therefore, avoid people with disabilities.
BACKLASH People believe that individuals with disabilities are given unfair advantages.
DENIAL "Hidden" disabilities are not "real" disabilities that require accommodation.
SPREAD EFFECT "Hidden" disabilities are not "real" disabilities that require accommodation.
Communicating With and About People with
  • The Americans with Disabilities Act, other laws
    and the efforts of many disability organizations
    have made strides in improving accessibility in
    buildings, increasing access to education,
    opening employment opportunities and developing
    realistic portrayals of persons with disabilities
    in television programming and motion pictures.
    Where progress is still needed is in
    communication and interaction with people with
  • Source Communicating With and About People with
    Disabilities, Dept. of Labor, Office of
    Disability Employment Policy

What is Disability Etiquette?
  • Etiquette considered appropriate when interacting
    with customers with disabilities is based
    primarily on respect and courtesy.
  • Listen and learn from what the customer tells you
    regarding his or her needs.

Handicap vs. Disability
  • Handicap or Handicapped
  • A legendary origin of the word handicap refers
    to a person with a disability begging with his
    cap in his hand. This is believed to come from
    our war veterans after World War II as a means to
    support themselves.
  • Source From Kathy Snows, Disability is
    Natural website.

Language in Powerful!
  • It reflects, reinforces, and shapes our
    perceptions of people. Words which reflect
    positive attitudes and awareness help develop
    positive communications.
  • Words about disability have been strongly
    influenced by legal, medical, and political
    terms. As a result, our daily language is filled
    with technical terms which often do not convey
    our intended social message.
  • Source People First A Language Guide, The
    Institute on Disabilities at Temple University

Language Sets the Tone
  • Its not just a matter of semantics or being
    politically correct the language we use
    reflects how we feel about disability.
  • http//

Positive Language Empowers People First
  • When writing or speaking about people with
    disabilities, it is important to put the person
    first. Group designations such as "the blind,"
    "the deaf" or "the disabled" are inappropriate
    because they do not reflect the individuality,
    equality, or dignity of people with disabilities.
    Following are examples of positive and negative
    phrases. Note that the positive phrases put the
    person first.

People First Language
Affirmative Phase Negative Phrase
Person with mental retardation retarded, mentally challenged
Person who is blind or has a visual disabilities visually impaired, the blind the disabled, handicapped
Person with a disability Person who is deaf, person who is hard of hearing suffers a hearing loss, the deaf
Person who has multiple sclerosis afflicted by MS
Person with cerebral palsy CP victim
Person who uses a wheelchair confined or restricted to a wheelchair
Person with psychiatric disability crazy, nuts
Words to Avoid Using
  • Challenged
  • Handicapped
  • Disabled
  • Crippled
  • Suffers from
  • Is afflicted with
  • Victim
  • Pity
  • Confined

Communicating with People with Disabilities
  • When introduced to a person with a disability, it
    is appropriate to offer to shake hands. People
    with limited hand use or who wear an artificial
    limb can usually shake hands. (Shaking hands with
    the left hand is an acceptable greeting.)
  • If you offer assistance, wait until the offer is
    accepted. Then listen to or ask for instructions.
  • Treat adults as adults. Address people who have
    disabilities by their first names only when
    extending the same familiarity to all others.

Communicating with People with Disabilities
  • Relax. Don't be embarrassed if you happen to
    use common expressions such as "See you later,"
    or "Did you hear about that?" that seem to relate
    to a person's disability.
  • Don't be afraid to ask questions when you're
    unsure of what to do.

Values, Ethics Confidentiality
  • Professional communication practices

  • VALUES are attitudes and beliefs about things we
    think are important in life.
  • Define what we prize, regard highly or prefer
  • Are indicated by frequent and consistent actions
  • Our values provide the lens on how we view the
    world, including our attitude and action towards

Learning Experience Checklist for Personal
  • Using your Workbook, select the ten that are most
    important to you - as guides for how to behave,
    or as components of a valued way of life.
  • Now that you have identified ten, imagine that
    you are only permitted to have five values. Which
    five would you give up? Cross them off.
  • Now imagine that you are only permitted four.
    Which would you give up? Cross it off.
  • Now cross off another, to bring our list down to
  • And another, to bring our list down to two.
  • Finally cross off one of your two values. Which
    is the one item on the one that you care most

Being Aware of Personal Values
  • What are some examples of personal values that
    might impact our professional work?

Some examples.
  • Sexual identity issues
  • Substance abuse
  • Assisted suicide
  • Child Custody
  • Illegal means of support
  • Spousal abuse

The Role of Your Values
  • Essential that you are aware of your values and
    how they influence what you think, say, and do
    when interacting with customers.
  • When you interact with customers, it is not a
    forum for you to impose your values on customers.
  • Customers have the task of clarifying their own
    values and goals, making informed choices, and
    assuming responsibility for what they do.

Learning Experience Values
  • Darlene is obtaining referral information on John
    who is apply for VR services. John is a
    well-spoken individual who has recently lost his
    job because of epilepsy. During the course of
    collecting information, John discloses he is an
    atheist. Darlene is personally and religiously
    opposed to the lifestyle.
  • What should she do?

  • Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary (1999)
  • The principles of conduct governing an individual
    or a group ltprofessional ethicsgt
  • A guiding philosophy

  • Ethics refers to our code of conduct.
  • Our personal values contribute to the strength of
    our ethics with positive behaviors and positive

  • (Josephson Institute 1991)

Principles of Ethical Behavior
  • Autonomy To honor the right to make individual
  • Beneficence To do good to others.
  • Nonmaleficence To do no harm to others.
  • Justice To be fair and give equally to others.
  • Fidelity To be loyal, honest, and keep promises.

Ethical Practices Confidentiality
  • Confidentiality has been defined by the
    International Organization for Standardization
    (ISO) as "ensuring that information is accessible
    only to those authorized to have access" and is
    one of the cornerstones of information security.
    A customer has the right to privacy and

  • Factors which complicate the issue
  • Multiple partners
  • Referral sources
  • Physical environment
  • Small communities
  • Special populations

Learning Experience Chatty Cathy
  • Cathy has had a rough day at the DVR office and
    goes to a local hair salon after work. She
    begins discussing recent interview of an VR
    customer with the hairdresser but is careful to
    disguise names and identifying information about
    specific customers. Has anything unethical

  • YES. If it is possible that someone can identify
    a customer by context, then confidentiality has
    been breached. If, for example, a relative or
    friend of a customer overheard such a
    conversation and could piece together the
    information, thereby identifying the customer, an
    unethical act has occurred. Even if the risk of
    identifying a customer is not significant, any
    practice of public discussion of cases is
    generally harmful of the trust of
    confidentiality. It risks decreasing the
    confidence of the lay public in the services
    provided by DE DVR.

Exceptions to Confidential
  • What should you do if
  • A customer says they plan to do harm to
    him/herself, such as suicidal thoughts?
  • A customer say they are thinking of hurting
    another person, such as spouse or child abuse?
  • If at any time a customer discloses information
    that they may be of harm to him/herself or
    others, immediately refer the call/visit to a
    supervisor. Such situations warrant disclosure
    of confidential information.

Dual Relationships
  • Contains both personal and nonprofessional
  • In addition to your role as a VR Clerical
    Professional referral information, you may have a
    relationship with the person in another role
    as a friend, teacher, community member or
    neighbor, church group, etc.
  • Are dual relations always bad?
  • Only if the relationship interferes with your
    ability to exercise your professional discretion,
    impairs your judgment, exploits customers, or
    does harm to customers.

When Is a Dual Relationship Harmful?
  • Intimate relationships
  • Personal benefit monetary gain, goods and
  • Emotional and dependency needs confusion
    between personal and professional lives
  • Altruistic gestures performing favors providing
    nonprofessional services, giving gifts and being
    extraordinarily available

Learning Experience Rena the Remote
  • Rena is a the only support staff in a 2 person
    office. The office has received a referral on two
    family members of her best friend since high
  • What are the ethical concerns and what should
    Rena and her Supervisor do to ensure there is no
    conflict due to the dual relationship?

Multicultural Awareness Ethical Practices
  • Multicultural Awareness is a greater
    understanding, sensitivity, and appreciation of
    the history, values, experiences, and lifestyles
    of groups that include, but, are not limited to
  • Race
  • Ethnicity
  • Gender
  • Sexual Orientation
  • Religious Affiliation
  • Socio-economic Status
  • Mental/Physical Abilities  

How do You View Others based upon Your Own
  • What is my cultural heritage? What was the
    culture of my parents and my grandparents? With
    what cultural group(s) do I identify?
  • What values, beliefs, opinions and attitudes do I
    hold that are consistent with the dominant
  • What unique abilities, aspirations, expectations,
    and limitations do I have that might influence my
    relations with culturally diverse individuals?

How do You View Others based upon Your Culture?
  • Discuss the differences that may exist among
    various cultures
  • Eye Contact
  • View of Gender
  • Family Influence
  • Others?
  • How might your cultural lens impact your reaction
    to others from diverse cultures?

  • Cultural stereotyping occurs when we automatic
    and exaggerated mental pictures that we hold
    about all members of a particular group. When we
    stereotype people based on race, sexual
    preference, or ethnicity we don't take into
    account individual differences.
  • We may tend to ignore or discard any information
    that is not consistent with the stereotype that
    we have developed about the group.
  • How might stereotyping a customer impact your
    interaction when gathering base record

Gaining More Multicultural Awareness
  • As we gain more awareness and knowledge about
    multicultural diversity, our stereotypes will
  • If we learn about cultural diversity, we can
    appreciate our difference and improve our
    communication with our customers.
  • In doing this, we work to create a society in
    which all cultures are valued, appreciated, and
  • How might you expand your multicultural awareness?

Effective Communication Skills

First Impressions
  • First Impressions handbook is being used, which
    is designed to help human service agency workers
    achieve a high level of positive communication.
  • Source http//

First Impressions
  • Most agency personnel do our very best to treat
    customers courteously, whether we are clerical
    professionals, counselors, social workers or
    administrators. We use empathy, sincerity, and
    humor to help build a solid foundation for
    providing courteous service.
  • Why do you believe this is important in our

First Impressions Why is it Important?
  • Earlier we talked about the attitudinal barriers
    that people with disabilities experience in
  • If we treat consumers discourteously, they may
    believe our agency views disability in a negative
    way, which is not the case. By treating them
    with respect, we are reinforcing their value to
    society and the belief of the agency that people
    with disabilities CAN work!
  • If we treat them with disrespect, the success of
    their VR program may be hindered.

Professional Image
  • You are one of the first professionals to have
    contact with potential VR customers, either over
    the telephone or in person. Having a
    professional image is essential. Your image is
    important when communication with customers over
    the telephone and in person.

Professional Image Learning Experience
  • Telephone Contact Scenario
  • You are making a phone call to your physician to
    ask for a referral to a specialist because you
    have been having persistent back pain.
  • What are the communication skills of the
    professional answering the phone at your
    physicians office that would be important to you
    as a consumer?
  • How might his/her skills impact you as a consumer
    in both a positive and negative way?

Professional Image Learning Experience
  • These are communication skills of the
    professional that will impact a consumer, where
    it is over the phone or in person
  • Professionalism
  • Respectfulness
  • Positive tone of voice
  • Helpful Attitude
  • Attentiveness/Active Listening Skills

The Initial Contact with the Customer
  • How you open a conversation with the customer
    sets the stage for the entire information
    gathering session.
  • The goal is to help customers feel comfortable by
    communicating with a helpful and friendly
    attitude from the start.
  • This helps the customers feel comfortable with
    the process and will impact their experience with
    the agency in the future.

Starting Off Successfully Active Listening
  • Good listening skills are very important to
    communicating in a positive way with customers.
    Listening validates the customer by showing that
    you are interested in what he/she is sharing.
  • Active listening involves the following four
    nonverbal activities
  • Assume an active listening posture.
  • Maintain eye contact.
  • Make nonverbal encouragements
  • Make active listening facial expressions.
  • Use a pleasant tone of voice.
  • Active listening also involves verbal

Refocusing the Conversation
  • Often times customers may provide many details
    and may go off topic.
  • How might you refocus their attention to the
    questions at hand?

Refocusing Statements
  • Maintain your positive attitude, despite
    frustration you may be experiencing.
  • When the consumer takes a break (or a breath),
    interject by saying
  • I appreciate your situation
  • I understand your concern
  • Lets stop for a minute
  • Id like to get more information from you about
    your education or whatever question you were
  • Completing the statements with
  • and am sure your counselor will talk with you in
    greater detail when you meet

Special Situations Learning Experience
  • Communication techniques may vary depending on
    the customers disability. How would you handle
    situations with customers who
  • Have a cognitive disability with difficulty
    reading and/or understanding information forms or
  • Using a computer to enter data
  • speaking clearly
  • has a visual disability
  • has a hearing disability?

Telephone Hostility
  • Sometimes customers are frustrated and/or angry
    for a multitude of reasons dealing with
    bureaucracy, adjustment to disability issues,
    associated with a mental health disability, etc.
  • Since you are not face to face, you do not face
    immediate threat this may allow you to feel
    less intimidated.
  • Remember you have control over phone
    conversations, you are not expected to tolerate
    poor treatment or abuse from customers.
  • You should tell the customer that you would like
    him/her to talk with someone who may be able to
  • Place the person on hold and refer the call a
    supervisor or counselor.

In Person Meetings Safety First!
  • Ensure that the meeting room where you meet
    customers is safe
  • Always advise the supervisor/counselor/receptionis
    t that you are meeting with a customer.
  • He/she may want to check in with you, if it
    appears the meeting is running long.
  • Room set up always have direct access to the
    door do not have the customer between you and
    the exit.

In Person Meetings Safety First!
  • Consider safety as bottom line always err on
    the side of safety
  • If the customer starts making advances, is angry
    or aggressive, excuse yourself immediately and
    seek assistance from a supervisor or counselor.

Learning Experience Role Playing
  • Lets break into groups if three. You will each
    take a turn in three roles
  • Clerical professional gathering the information
  • Customer
  • Observer
  • Refer to the Professional Communication
    Practices Summary as a cheat sheet during all
    three roles.
  • The observer will record comments (positives as
    well as constructive criticism) on the topics
    listed on the summary.

Learning Experience Role Playing (contd)
  • Typically the clerical professional will not have
    any background information on the customer. So
    during this learning experience only the customer
    and observer will receive a description of the
    customers role.
  • Lets review the observer sheet, where you will
    record whether or not effective communication
    skills were present.
  • We will take 5 to 10 minutes for each scenario.
    After each role play we will debrief as a group
    prior to moving to the next scenario.

Professional Communication Practices Values,
Ethics Confidentiality
  • Contact Information
  • Joan Kester, CRC
  • HRD Specialist
  • Mid-Atlantic Rehabilitation Continuing
  • Education Program
  • The George Washington University
  • 202-489-7112
  • Website

This information is the intellectual property of
the George Washington University and is to be
used for training purpose only.
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