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Disability Awareness


What is Disability awareness?
Attitudinal shifts
A need for perspective
The need for balance
Who needs it?
"Meeting Disability" a Practical Disability Awareness approach
Acclamation and Clientlist
Different versions of Meeting Disability
About the developer


Disability awareness has been a slow to emerge participant in the quest for increased Disability inclusion and representation in mainstream society in South Africa.
Initially, after the Employment Equity Act of 1998, and especially in the dark years before the Code of Good practice on the Employment of Persons with Disabilities was finally released in 2002, little consistent emphasis was provided in terms of Disability Awareness.
In reality, very little happened around Disability Equity in those days anyway, with most of the theoretical energy being aimed at trying to increase numbers of people with Disabilities in Employment Equity designated organizations.
In truth, very little progress actually happened with precious few people with Disabilities finding successful employment as a result.

This can be easily explained, if one considers the Biblical analogy of “Seeds being sown but not being able to take root and grow in unfertile ground”.

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What has this to do with Disability awareness?


It was as a result of almost pandemic ignorance of all things to do with Disability and its inclusion into mainstream society that resulted in the almost complete failure of the principle of increased Disability integration through the ideals of the Employment Equity Act, let alone the principles of the Constitution. This status quo has remained relatively unchanged in the 11 years since the EEA, and can look forward to little or no meaningful progress unless there is a remarkable change in the level of basic understanding about Disability and its context in society.

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What then is “Disability Awareness?”

In the face of wholesale ignorance about almost everything pertaining Disability, particularly Disabilities inter-relationship with society, it means that there is an awful lot to unlearn. and some considerable attitude shifting required.

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Attitudinal shifts

The biggest paradigm shift required was best expressed by Steve Ballmer of Microsoft. “What’s actually doing the Disabling around here? Barriers or Disabilities?”
In other words we need to be able to tell the difference between Disabilities, and the Barriers that prevent persons with Disabilities from accessing every aspect of society. This concept is now well entrenched internationally as the “Social Model”. However in reality, there is still far too much emphasis on the actual disability or impairment compared to focusing on the barriers and obstacles that exist in all aspects of our everyday society.

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A need for perspective

One of the most important lessons is to begin to see disability in perspective, rather than trying to work with the one dimensional image presented through the Employment Equity act, i.e. Disability as an object of “Employment” equity alone, as opposed to Disability, as a mainstream issue.
We need to take a broader look at Disability, beyond the compliance view and employment only. A proper perspective must include a Human rights view as well as a Business or economic angle. In other words, to learn to see people with Disabilities as citizens with the right to live, learn, earn and spend, just like anyone else.

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The need for Balance in awareness raising

Secondly in the rather limited perception that all that is needed is to ensure that as many people with Disabilities find jobs, often too much emphasis is put on to the HOW of Disability recruitment, or communication or etiquette. Not that this is wrong per se, but to focus exclusively on the HOW leaves little room for the WHY and the WHAT of Disability without which, very little real understanding and context can be expected, and limited and sustainable outcome achieved.

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Who needs it?

Thirdly, ones target identification for awareness training is crucial.

There are four equally important target groups to remember if one expects to engender any kind of Disability confidence in an organization. Naturally, little successful outcome can be expected by ignoring any of the groups.

Each group requires a different approach and length of process. Timing and the order in which programmes are conducted can play an important role as well.

The largest group in most organizations will certainly be the staff awareness programmes.
These are essential as the successful employment or retention of future or current staff with Disabilities will be influenced by the level of understanding and sensitivity of existing staff. Also it is the staff, who are most likely to affect good or bad customer service. Increasingly it has been realized that people with Disabilities are customers too. Staffs attitude and attention to detail could make significant difference to consumer habits of people with Disabilities.

The second largest group will be ones line managers.
Failing to prepare these managers to be able to appropriately recruit, retain and grow existing or future staff with Disabilities as well as customers will seriously negate any wider initiative towards Disability confidence.

The third group to consider are the Human Resources role players.
Once again a very different approach and skills set is needed to prepare HR to be able to provide best practice in Disability recruitment and management. It is still of concern that so little is taught about Disability Equity in tertiary HR programmes. This combined with a lack of experience render the majority of HR practitioners to be ill equipped to respond to the Disability equity challenge. Strong disability confident HR personnel can ensure not only best practice and compliance, but can also prevent the all too common trends of stereotyping and unlawful HR practices that still prevail.

Lastly, and far too often a group that is rarely considered in terms of a need for education and attitudinal shift in this area are the Leaders of an organisation.
Research and experience have shown that the reason for sluggish activity and delivery in the area of Disability Equity can be directly attributed to the non participation of senior role-players. In fairness, many other Diversity related issues are also compromised in organizations by executives’ lack of involvement and limited understanding.
Conversely, organizations whose senior level executives have been properly exposed to the reality of Disability inclusion, experience far fewer barriers to innovation and delivery from their managers and staff and are far better equipped to become disability confident.

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Meeting Disability
Practical awareness raising and skills transfer seminars

Why should you attend?
Course outline

Background to Disability Status quo
By 2009, employers, including the Government have to file compliance or failure in the most underestimated and misunderstood aspect of our country's transformation process: Disability Equity. Unlike race and, to a lesser extent, gender, disability has been inadequately addressed in terms of the designated groups highlighted within the Employment Equity Act (EEA).

One of the major reasons for this is there is not enough known about Disability, due to its relative invisibility in all walks of life, despite much legislative support in recent times. This paradox becomes clear, if one considers the limited focus that has been given to disability with regard to employment, specifically.
A broader perspective needs to be taken of the full implication of Disability in all aspects of society: as a citizen entitled to reside, to be educated, to be employed, or to employ, to enjoy recreation and to be a consumer. When commercial South Africa recognises Disability, not as an onerous employment equity task, shrouded in myth, but as a significant economic partner with huge potential, then many opportunities will emerge.

“Companies that do not embrace Diversity, including Disability
as a core business issue; are simply missing the point”
Sir Peter Bonfield . Chief Executive British Telecom plc

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Has been adapted to the needs of Executives, line managers, HR role-players and staff.

Why should you attend?

• Who exactly are “People with Disabilities?”
• What is disability equity?
• Is it all about jobs, or is there more to it than just employment?
• How equitable are we really when it comes to employing people with disabilities?
• Do we know what our employees with disabilities needs, aspirations and challenges really are?
• Are our executives and managers informed enough about disability to be able to serve staff and customers with disisabilities?
• Are our buildings and facilities accessible to staff and customers with Disabilities?
• How accessible is society in general to persons with Disabilities?

If you have answered no or I don’t know, to any of the above, you may wish to attend this seminar and explore a unique strategic Disability Integration Process.

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Course Outline

“Meeting Disability” is a powerful, practical and awareness changing experience. Its aim is not to cram delegates full of forgettable “politically correct” data, but to get them to understand the enigma that is disability. To empower them to be able to meet disability on its own terms and to be able to appropriately and equitably interact with people with Disabilities at work, in society and personally. In short, to become Disability confident.

Breaking the Emotional Barrier - Getting to the heart of the matter
• Establishing emotional buy-in, in order to ensure intellectual and practical commitment

Breaking the Ignorance Barrier – Fact over myth
• Providing a “no holds barred reality check”
• Examining a local and global perspective
• Exploring the realities and pitfalls of:
* The medical vs. Social Model of Disability
* The Definition of Disability.
* Reasonable accommodation.
* Key Legislation
* The Code of Good Practice and Technical Assistance Guide
* Access regulations
UN Convention on rights and Dignity of Persons with Disabilities.
* Terminology, etiquette and things to avoid

Beyond Barriers – Thinking Laterally
• Introducing a perspective view of Disability
• The human rights view
• The legislative perspective
• The business case
• Insight into employment equity and how to incorporate Disability highlighting the steps and practicalities of;
* Employment Cycle
* Corporate Social Investment
* Operational components in the business
E.g. IT, Service, facilities, admin, marketing/sales, procurement, skills development

Removing the Barriers
• Offering a strategic approach to ensure sustainable disability confidence
Featuring Meeting Disabilities unique Strategic Model;

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Eating Elephants

One bite at a time

? Leadership – Showing up at the Diversity Table.
? Barrier analysis – Identifying portions and Dividing the elephant
? Barrier removal – Tucking in
? Maintaining a Barrier free environment – Digesting the Elephant, making sure it stays eaten.

The course includes examination and discussion of our own and our associate’s unique research data:
Public and private sector, Accessibility findings and solutions.

Experiences of Employees with Disabilities research
Management Attitudinal Awareness study

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Of the more than 5000 people who have attended “Meeting Disability”, the most common response has been;

“An eye opening experience! everyone in our organization should attend this”

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Clients Include:

Advtech    2011/2013
British American Tobacco    2009-2012
Bitou Municipality    2009, 2010
CHEC    2008
City of Cape Town    2008
Damelin College    2008
Dept of Agriculture (WC)    2008/2009
Dept of Economic Development (WC)    2007/2008
Dept of the Premier (WC)    2008/2009
Dept of Finance (WC)    2007
Dept of Housing (Gauteng)    2008
Dept of Social Services (WC)    2007-2009, 2010
Dimension Data    2012
Financial Intelligence Centre    2009
FNB    2005
False Bay College    2005; 2011
Glacier Financial Services    2013
Human Sciences Research Council    2009
Impala Platinum    2008
Investec    2009
Iziko Museums    2013
Lanseria International Airport    2008
McCarthy Motor Group    2011
Mercedes Benz    2012
Metropolitan Health Group    2006-2011
Metropolitan Holdings 2009,    2010-2013
Momentum (MMI)    2012-2013
Metrorail    2008
Media 24    2008
Nedbank    2003
NMMU    2011
Old Mutual    2002-2004; 2011
Oceana Fishing    2006
Petro SA    2009-2010
Pick n Pay    2008/2009
SARS    2004
SA Customs    2005
SAPS    2006-2009
SA Reserve Bank    2009
Standard Bank    2007
Sea Harvest    2005
Statistics SA    2006
Services Seta    2003/2008
SAQA    2012
Santam    2008-2011
Sanlam    2010-2013
Total SA    2006-2008
UCT    2007/2011
VW    2012

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Principle versions of Meeting Disability

1. Executive Meeting Disability presentations and seminars

Aimed at Exco’s, boards of management and senior management teams such as senior EE committees.
Leadership involvement is in serious deficit in South African organizations in terms of Disability integration expectation. It is in fact one of the primary reasons why business and organizations struggle to get to terms with Disability Equity.

A short participative and highly impactful session ranging between 1 and 3 hours, succeeds in informing and empowering executives about Disabilities potential and challenges in integration in their organizations and society.
Executives gain a solid unambiguous insight into:
? Background and foundation of the Disability reality
? A greater perspective of Disability, including a Human Rights View, Legislative or compliance view and the business case
? Insight into the law, obligations and expectations
? A holistic view of Disability Equity, including Employment, CSI and operational aspects of the business.
? “Eating Elephants”, a practical applied Disability Strategy.

Recent executive recipients include: Investec, Pick n Pay, Total, SA Reserve Bank,
Dot P, BAT, Shell, MHG

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2. Meeting Disability Human Resources skills development workshop

Intended for all HR practitioners
As appropriate Disability Equity is still rarely satisfactorily taught in tertiary HR courses, continued EE non compliance and unlawful HR practice is still the norm in most South African organizations.
Most HR practitioners still have little understanding of:
? The importance of understanding the relationship between Disability and Society
? The difference between Disability and Barriers
? The definition of Disability
? The intensions and interpretations of the Employment Equity Act
? The interrelationship between Employment cycles, CSI and the operational aspects of the business
? Equitable and non stereotypic employment practices
? Disclosure and Disability equity targeting
? The notion of Disability as an internal and external customer.
? The difference between a Disability policy and a Disability strategy
A one to two day intensive workshop with the option of assignments and post programme consultation is essential for Best practice in HR and Disability Equity.
Clients include: Santam, Metropolitan Life, MHG, Department of Agriculture, Statistics SA, CPUT, OLD Mutual, SARS

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3. Meeting Disability practical awareness raising programme

This is an adaptable generic programme aimed at Line management and supervisory levels
With the limited exposure and experience that organizational South Africa has had with Disability, most management have little or no understanding of how to serve staff or customers with Disabilities.
This one day programme aims to provide delegates with the core tools of appropriate Disability integration understanding.

Three primary milestones will be achieved.
• Background and foundations of the Disability status quo
• The importance of understanding the relationship between Disability and Society
• Models of Disability
• The difference between barriers and Disability
• The importance of perspective in viewing Disability

• A no holds barred reality check regarding Disability
• The law pertaining Disability
• Understanding and working with the Definition of Disability
• Categories of Disability

• Do’s and don’ts, etiquette and terminology
• Working with the Definition
• Reasonable accommodation
• The need for a holistic approach
• The employment cycle
• The Business case for Disability
• Disability equity strategies.

Clients include: Dept of Agriculture, Dept of Housing, Dept of the Premier WC, Santam, MHG, Metropolitan life, Old Mutual, Total, SA Reserve bank, Impala Platinum, SARS, SAPS, ABSA, Damelin

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4. Meeting Disability staff awareness and sensitisation

It is far easier to attract staff or customers with disabilities if the staff is informed and disability confident.

This half day workshop prepares staff to:
? Understand the primary difference between Disabilities and Barriers
? Appreciate the importance of an inclusive society
? Appreciate the realities about Disability
? Get to grips with the kinds of disabilities and how to understand the Definition
? Be able to deal with disability in terms of etiquette, language and when and how to assist Disability if necessary
? Appreciate the importance of attracting Disability as customers
? Be empowered to make a difference in the workplace, in society and at home.

Clients include: FNB, Damelin college, Dept of Social Development, SAPS, SA Customs, Lanseria Airport, MHG, OLD Mutual, Metrorail, Total

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About the Developer

Jeremy Opperman & Assoc
Achieving a natural and unhesitant inclusion of people with disabilities into mainstream society

Jeremy Opperman & Assoc stands for an holistic and strategic approach to Disability inclusion.
Promoting a strong culture of Disability confidence in, not only employment issues, but integrating corporate Social investment as well as all operational functions of the business involving customer service, sales, facilities, HR, marketing, IT, procurement etc.

Jeremy Opperman developed the practical and adaptable “Meeting Disability” suite of programmes, in 2002 which has been conducted in over 500 workshops reaching well over 6000, executives, managers and staff nationwide in both private and public sectors.
In addition the company has been involved in the attitudinal assessment of over 230 managers and more than 150 staff with Disabilities nationwide. This data combined with the hundreds of professional access audits conducted by our internationally trained associate, gives Jeremy Opperman & Assoc unparalleled insight and leadership in the area of “Disability Integration Preparation” in organizational South Africa.

Jeremy speaks, writes and consults widely on such topics as Disability Confidence, Making a business case for Disability equity, A Strategic approach to Disability Integration and Corporate Social investment in Disability. Recently Jeremy launched his latest strategic approach to Disability and Employment Equity, “Eating Elephants – One Bite at a time”; Applied Disability integration strategy.

Jeremy is a founder member of ADiPSA (Association of Diversity Providers of SA, and is also involved with several disability institutions, as well as being on the Board of directors of St Dunstans (SA), WUFSA and APD (Cape Town.

Jeremy Opperman & Assoc, draws on the expertise of a wide range of experienced Disability related professionals, thereby tapping into a unique breadth of service and experience. Most associates are persons with Disabilities themselves.