Surrey Police session

Disability Inclusion Training vs Disability Awareness

The Definition

When researching disability awareness training, you may have come across different organisations describing their training as either inclusion or awareness. This may, on the surface, seem no more than a choice of language. For some trainers it may be true.

It can often be easy to overlap disability inclusion training with disability awareness training. However, the similarities that I can see in the two are: Disability” and “Training”. Other than these two words, the models are very different.

I would like you to cast your mind back to a previous blog that explored the attitudinal difference between the terms person with a disability and a disabled person. Just as these identifications embrace or overlook the social model of disability, disability inclusion and disability awareness training do the same.

In the simplest terms, disability awareness is passive. You digest the training session as participants and think upon completion: “That was really interesting, I’m going to go back to my life now”. It is very hard to do anything with a passive awareness training session because as participants, you are being told the facts, the legislation, the basics.

A disability inclusion session in comparison, is active. You leave the session thinking “That was very interesting, I can see how this impacts me and the people around me and as a result, I have an idea of what I am going to do”. During an inclusion session, whilst you are offered the facts and part of the legislation, (we will explore why legislation isn’t necessarily a necessity in full in a later blog) you are also encouraged to take the opportunity to empathise and strategise.

Lived Experience

A disability inclusion session would also mainly be delivered by a person with lived experience of disability. i.e.: a disabled person or a carer (not to be confused with a care worker). This is because there is immense value from hearing from a person with lived experience and that would be across-the-board, not only related to disability. For example, I would not expect you to attend a course that I was delivering entitled: “What it was like to be a man”. Why? I have no experience of being a man, I cannot imagine what it would be like to be a man, my insight and academic knowledge of being a man would not go very far in helping you to empathise with a man.

The Truth About Simulation

In a disability awareness training session, you may be asked to participate in a simulated activity. For example, the trainer may encourage the participant to sit in a wheelchair, wear a blindfold or blackout glasses or put headphones on with loud music. The participant may be then asked to undertake an activity, i.e, an assault course or something similar.

Disability inclusion training would not have a need for this as, rather than relying on speculation, the trainer with lived experience could give adequate examples to help the participants understand the barriers that are faced by disabled people.

Positive vs Negative

Disability awareness training would concentrate heavily on impairments and what a disabled person could not do as a result of that impairment.

Inclusion training would concentrate on the social model of disability. Stating that we are not disabled due to our impairments but rather, the society that creates barriers to opportunities for inclusion. Having an understanding of these barriers will help participants to think about ways in which disabled people can be included in society and in their work. It will help participants to understand (for example) not only the legislation around reasonable adjustments but why reasonable adjustments exist. Participants would have a deeper understanding of why there is such a big disability employment gap and what they can do to help bridge that gap.

Lastly for today, disability awareness training will help participants to understand the bare minimum on what can be done to avoid discrimination. Disability inclusion training would offer participants the tools that will ensure that discrimination of disability wouldn’t occur.

To sum up, I have created a quick checklist that can help you ensure that the next time you look to commission training, either in-house or outsourced, you will get value for money.

Types of Training Checklist
Facts & LegislationDelivered/Co-delivered by a person with lived experience
No input from disabled personMind mapping of barriers and potential solutions
SimulationIntroduction to social model of disability
Concentrate on negative (can’t etc)Insights from a disabled person

You may have looked through my website and are wondering why, if stating what I have above, I talk about disability awareness training when signposting people to my services. This is purely to signpost people to my services. Not everybody would recognise disability inclusion training if they were searching. However, rest assured that any workshop I deliver would be based around inclusion and not purely awareness.

To see how Celebrating Disability can help you by training your staff in disability inclusion, get in touch. Fancy more useful information about disability inclusion and equality? Join our mailing list

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