Disability Responsiveness Workshops for Frontline Staff

Pam provided excellent support and assistance with the design and facilitation of an extended series of Disability responsiveness workshops for our frontline staff. We have received outstanding feedback from our attendees, especially in reference to the sharing of lived experiences. Enabling our people to act appropriately and sensitive to disable people’s needs are an integral part of this DHB’s current disability strategy. Pam managed a complex organisational setting with great professionalism and delivered excellent workshops. She has a wonderful way with people, highly developed understanding of leadership and interpersonal relationships. I regard her as a very credible subject matter expert in the field of disability responsiveness within New Zealand.

– New Zealand Organisational Development Health Business Partner

Enhancing Accessibility

Four workshops were held with staff of Upper Hutt City Council, with a total of 48 people attending these: from H2O, Activation, Expressions, Library, Customer services, Business Development Services, Community Development and Compliance Services. Orongomai Marae staff were also invited to participate in the training.

There was a high level of engagement and satisfaction with the workshops. All ratings were very positive with all attendees rating their satisfaction as either excellent, very good or good (28 attendees rated the workshop as excellent, 14 very good and 2 good)

Attendees were invited to comment on how they found the workshop overall (see selection of comments below)

  • Really interesting, very interesting, eye opening, really knowledgeable and interesting, really worthwhile, extremely informative, strong messaging and awareness raising
  • I had no idea what it would cover but it was great and made me think about how I work with library customers who are impaired and how I can do it better
  • Love the use of practical examples to emphasise the ideas/points
  • Good for creating awareness around serving disabled people
  • Pam is a great educator, really enjoyed Pam and the insight she brought to understanding disability and the various perspectives
  • Thought the workshop was excellent. Great to get clarification and more understanding about people with impairments and/or disabilities
  • Insightful and thought changing, thought provoking.

The following testimonial relates to the perspective of someone who attended one of the above workshops. It is reproduced with the permission of the author, who nevertheless wishes to remain anonymous.

“I had the pleasure of attending a Disability Responsiveness workshop and I was pleasantly surprised at how much I learned and how much I enjoyed it.  We regularly have awareness training within a particular area and you walk away with new skills, knowledge, gained awareness and if you are lucky enough you get inspired.  I was inspired after attending the Disability Responsiveness workshop because I realised that I was part of the problem.  As a child I never went to school with people who were disabled.  These students were segregated into a whole different school.  They were typically picked up in a bus and it was all run separately to the main stream school.  Without realising, it became ingrained in me at a young age that they were different, they were not like me and therefore they were treated differently.  There was never any integration into main stream schooling so ‘how could we all learn to work together, share experiences and adjust our world to ensure that we would live inclusively with people who were disabled’?

I started working in Community 7 years ago and on the first day of my new role in a small not for profit community group I felt confronted, and to be honest I am embarrassed to admit my feelings about that day, but I feel it is important to share my experience as it was real and so much was learned from it.  On the first day there was a course being run and the majority of the students were disabled.  This working environment was very foreign to me and embarrassingly I felt really scared.  I didn’t know how to talk to these students or how I was supposed to interact with them.  Anybody who knows me knows that I can talk to anybody and communication is one of my qualities.  But due to the society that I grew up in, I was ignorant.  I had built a fear around disabled people.  I didn’t know how to communicate with them.  During the Disability Responsiveness workshop they played a Ted X talk for us.  It was a disabled woman named ‘Stella Young’.  She hit the nail on the head when she said that people look to disabled people to inspire them.  We have learned that disabled people are inspirational just for getting out of bed.  If a disabled person does every day ‘normal’ things this makes them inspirational.  I can only speak for myself, but this would be true of my view of disabled people.  It is through my work experience in community and the Disability Responsiveness workshop that I attended that has taught me to look with a fresh perspective.   I have realised that it is our society and the environment we live in that disables them.

I ran a Library tour for some members of the Blind Foundation last year.  I took them through the library and showed them our magnifier and discussed all of our services that are there for people with visual impairments.  Through my new gained awareness and change in perspective my tour was very different.  It was different because I was seeing things from their world and not mine.  It opened up more dialogue and I was able to discuss ways in which we could make their experience easier.  One example of this was that in our library we have self-service scanning machines.  These machines have bright fluorescent coloured lighting as a display feature.  However, this dominate lighting is not good for people with visual impairments.  I spoke to my manager about this and the decision was made to turn off the lighting permanently on one machine to ensure that we can make the experience for people with visual impairment one which is inclusive.

I know that changes to our working and public environments will not change overnight, but what is important is that people continue to be educated.  Through workshops such as the Disability Responsiveness one, people can be made more aware of the challenges that can be overcome, attitudes that can be changed, turning an exclusive environment into an inclusive one.  Ensuring that we are more sensitive to the needs of disabled people and creating a more connected society that is open and willing to change in a positive, forward thinking way that enhances the lives for all.”

Letter of thanks

Dear Pam,  Our Driving Miss Daisy Franchisees have now enjoyed our eighth Annual Conference.  What an outstanding success!  This is due in no small part, to your fantastic presentation. We thoroughly enjoyed your  contribution with such interesting facts and insights around Disability Responsiveness, your  story creating your great business, and how we as Daisies can enhance our service when  helping anyone with any disability.

I know our delegates greatly appreciated your presentation. We have received extremely  positive feedback from everyone present.

On behalf of us all here at Driving Miss Daisy NZ, we want to extend a heart-felt thank you  for your contribution and great presentation. We know our Daisies have gone away with  new knowledge and a renewed enthusiasm to grow their businesses, aiming for delivering  their service to many more disabled clients!

Jack, Mel, Paula and Ange – Driving Miss Daisy