Research Paper By David Moseman
(Life and Health Coach, UNITED STATES)
People with disabilities president and unique challenge when it comes to coaching. Disabilities make people different from most. That difference may or may not be the issue prompting coaching or part of the person’s identity, yet it will lack in the background. Potential disabilities are very common. In an often quoted survey of US workers fully 19% felt they had some sort of disability. Since our clients live with others it is estimated that when family and friends are included about 53% of people are affected by a disability in one way or another. That means that the reason your client hesitates to do things might really be that they or others think they cannot do it and have not come to terms with that reason.
In this paper I will cover some of those issues in the hope that when you find yourself coaching a person with a disability you will be better equipped to help them. The topics I will cover are:
- What is a disability?
- What is the world of a person with a disability?
- What should the scope of your coaching be?
- What should you strive to achieve by coaching them?
- What is the process of working through a disability?
- What are the traps you can fall into when coaching those with disabilities?
- Issues and some resources
What is a disability?
There are several models of disability in the literature. The simplest is the medical model.
The medical model of Disability sees the reason someone can’t perform like others as due to a physical or mental illness. That means the person has a “defective” part that needs to be corrected. When correction is not possible accommodation is required. This still sees the disability as a personal issue.
Under the Medical Model someone who sees poorly needs to have their eyes corrected. For many this can be done with corrective lenses or surgery. Yet when the eye senses light poorly or not at all these interventions don’t work. Then the rehabilitation system offers ways to accommodate.
This model still leaves the person “Blind” or defective, even if they can function well. There will always be tasks they can’t perform independently. Being “Blind” cause’s disability beyond what the medical model includes. The Term “Blind” is often used metaphorically. People who label themselves as blind often forget that the metaphoric use of that term may not apply to them.
The next model of disability is the Environmental model. Here the assumption is that all that is needed is for things to be built “accessible”. Ramps and elevators go a long way to meet these needs. However someone must bear the additional cost. In the US the American’s with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) has mandated many such changes. They are slow in coming and in many cases the best accommodation is still evolving. This model requires that others make changes.
The Social model focuses on attitudes. Here the attitudes of others must be changed. Planners must not just think of all persons who might wish to use the space or other item, they must get into how the person might actually use it.
Blind people have trouble walking across streets. Since they can’t see the lights they learn to listen to traffic. The newer quieter cars and bicycles don’t stand out in noisy environments. Audible traffic signals help. Their location and design is not standard. Rarely can the destination single be heard before leaving the curb. Thus blind people rely on other things to start. Wheelchair curb cuts sometimes head out into the intersection. Non square intersections make leaving the sidewalk or street edge hazardous. Blindfolding traffic engineers can convey this sort of confusion.
Other issues also exist. Most people can’t envision how others could live with a disability. Since they struggle with many common tests already the added challenge makes many things seem impossible. Yet sometimes adaptive techniques or tools actually make things easier. Take for example grippers for opening jars. They were developed to aid arthritic hands, they enable all of us to open and close jars securely.