Training Participants Who Have Disabilities

Because there are so many different types of disabilities and each person's disability affects him or her in potentially different ways, it is impossible to list all of them here. In addition, many people have nonvisible disabilities that can affect their ability to function as others might and create learning challenges for them (e.g., diabetes, dyslexia, alcoholism, and cancer). Such participants may not always be willing to disclose their disability to others and in some cases have learned consciously to mask them from others for personal reasons. Often this is done because of either embarrassment or the fear of discrimination should their disability become known. At any rate, respect rights and desires of all your participants and attempt to provide a learning environment that is accessible to everyone.

When a disability is disclosed to you, do whatever possible to accommodate the participants). The Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990 and other legislation requires you to do so, but more importantly, it is the right thing to do. After all, isn't your role as a trainer to facilitate learning? Beside, with the rising estimate of more than 55 million people with some type of disability in the United States alone, the chances of having at least one disabled participant in your session is very high.

The first step in creating a positive learning environment for people with disabilities is to ensure that your language, that of other trainers and participants, and your learning materials is not offensive or discriminatory. Table 3-4 offers some possible terminology, although the best approach is not to single out for their disability or any other diversity factor. Instead, simply address people by name or a generic term, such as man or woman, when referring to someone. In addition, avoid the potentially offensive word handicapped, as this has an attributed historical connotation from old British language

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