Write a post in which you: Analyze what you learned from the Voices of Diver

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Write a post in which you:
Analyze what you learned from the Voices of Diversity video regarding perspectives and experiences related to ability and disability.
Then, summarize your findings from at least one professional or scholarly resource focusing on themes of ability and disability.
How do your findings apply to social work practice with clients with varying abilities?
TRANSCIPT: Hi, everyone. Welcome to the Voices of Diversity, and the topic for discussion today is Ability and Disability. And we have two amazing people who are going to join us for this conversation, and I’m just going to turn this over and let them briefly tell us who they are, we’ll start with Tami. TAMI FRYE: Hi, I’m Dr. Tammy Frye. I’m a core faculty member with the School of Social Work, and I’ve been with Walden for seven years now. GINA BOWLIN: My name is Dr. Gina Bowlin. I’m a licensed clinical social worker and I work full time in a health care setting, and I’m a contributing faculty member for Walden. KATHY PURNELL: My first question that I’m going to pose to Tami first is– the discomfort around ability and disability can often be difficult for some to discuss or even understand. Why is this, and why is this not as difficult for others? TAMI FRYE: I think from the time we’re very young, we’re taught when we see someone with a disability, that we look the other direction. We don’t look too long at someone that’s different because we could be thought of as staring at someone, and we don’t do that, we look away. We don’t want them to be made uncomfortable, so we don’t look at them. And therefore, we almost don’t see them, and that carries over, whether it’s into the field of social work or any other area. And it’s too easy then to make them invisible, and we can just make them invisible and not give them attention. Then when they need help in a grocery store, or when they need help opening a door, or when they just need to be seen– I myself found that this was the case when I acquired a disability. I found myself feeling differently than I was when I was just an able-bodied person. I suddenly found myself needing help reaching for the upper level items at a grocery store, or getting in a door that didn’t open as easily. And people would just walk right on by, and it made a difference because people were not comfortable helping or asking if I needed help. And it goes back to being a young child, and we teach our children those kinds of things. KATHY PURNELL: Gina, could you respond to the question, why is it some find this easy or difficult to discuss? And was there a defining moment or personal story, as Tami just explained for herself, that you would like to share very briefly with us? GINA BOWLIN: I think along the lines with what Tami said, we may be taught to respond to disability in a certain way. But I think, innately as humans, we recognize difference and automatically think of it as something challenging to understand if it’s different than what we know and what we experience. That said, I think that some people are more comfortable embracing what’s different, or they at least have a heart that makes them want to bridge that gap. So I tend to think that those people are social workers, nurses, others in the helping professions, that really enjoy helping bridge that gap. I do think, though, that one challenge we face is that many of the accommodations that are created for disability are created by able-bodied people. And we learned that when I had a 15-year-old daughter who was suddenly in a wheelchair and ended up in a wheelchair for a period of about three years. And she learned, and we learned alongside her, that just because something is accessible does not necessarily mean it’s comfortable or easy. For example, you can have an accessible bathroom, but the sink could still be out of reach. Yes it might meet regs, but she may not be able to wash her hands in the sink. And so that was a real eye-opener for us as parents when we realized that most of the accommodations out there are designed by people not with those disabilities, but with able-bodies. KATHY PURNELL: So my next question focuses a little bit on the history– there is some historical and current context associated with the topic that we’re discussing– and how does that resonate with you, as social work professionals, and why? GINA BOWLIN: I would say that I am thankful that we now have better accommodations for those who need them than we used to have. I believe that historically, those with disability or in need of accommodations were viewed as people to be set aside in society. And I believe that now we have more accommodations than ever. Even if they’re not perfect yet, we’re moving in the right direction. TAMI FRYE: Some would say it’s an evolutionary thing too. I mean, it goes way back to when they were warehoused and taken away from the general population because for whatever reason, and now at least things are done in school systems and among the working people and that sort of thing to get those of us with different abilities out in the general population a little more than it used to be. Though like Gina said, there’s still a long way to go. KATHY PURNELL: What are some helpful strategies to encourage culturally responsive practice with individuals who live with varying levels of abilities and/or disabilities? TAMI FRYE: Don’t be afraid to talk about it. By all means, open the conversation with a client that you may have with a disability or different ability. Talk about it, be– have an open discussion about it. Find out what ways you can help; what way the client may need your help; what kind of suggestions; how can I make you comfortable when you’re here; how can I help you, whether it’s finding employment, or help you with school, or whatever to find out what needs– what the needs are. GINA BOWLIN: I would just add to what Tami said, that I think education is critical, both for family members and for community members who work with folks that have disabilities. Just helping them understand that they need to meet the client where they are, and also helping family members understand the advocacy that they can engage in to advocate for their loved one. KATHY PURNELL: I have a son who’s now in college– he’s a junior in college– and I’ve had to really work with him and the institution to think about ways to provide culturally responsive teaching and learning. What are your thoughts about helping educators, not just parents? What kind of resources do you think that schools of social work can benefit from in strengthening cross-cultural understanding with this population? GINA BOWLIN: That’s a bit of a challenging question. Just based on my own experiences, and maybe it’s related to the culture in which I reside, we’ve really faced a lot of challenges advocating for folks with regard to their disabilities. And it’s almost like it’s been fighting a little bit of an uphill battle. So as far as better preparing helpers, I definitely think we can do that– but I’m not sure– I’m not sure what the answer is. KATHY PURNELL: As we know, developing cultural competence is somewhere you don’t get overnight. It’s a journey. GINA BOWLIN: Can I add a brief comment there? I feel like there’s a difference between saying that you provide accommodations– and I think that our education system– K-12, college level– is really great at saying that they provide the accommodations. But sometimes in practice, families and clients end up real– like realizing conflict when they approach for those accommodations. So I think there needs to be, along with that education, not just that we do it, but we do it well. And this is why it’s important that we do it and that we engage with folks that need it. KATHY PURNELL: As we think about today’s conversation and the topic, what would you like students to think about or take away from this discussion? And what would you want them to know, and why? TAMI FRYE: That this is not an optional part of social work, that this is a part of social work that’s every bit as critical for them to train in and be knowledgeable about, as counseling skills, as theories, as anything else they’re going to learn about, and it’s something that is important. It’s not something that they may or may not learn about, that it’s something that’s really urgently important for them to know about before they graduate. GINA BOWLIN: I would say first, not to fear what is different, and also, to not be afraid to engage someone from a different culture with needs because what they’re looking for is for their needs to be met. So not approaching that with fear, and then the next thing would be being passionate about advocacy because sometimes that’s what our clients need most. KATHY PURNELL: Thank you. I think that’s a good place to end our segment on ability and disability. Thank you, Gina. Thank you, Tami. 

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