Removing architectural and attitudinal barriers!

I am copy/pasting this e-mail to this blog, with permission. I haven't really personally encountered someone with a job like Keith's, and his work sounds very valuable and interesting. Just thought you all might find it neat too! And by the way, if you do want to share your experiences with Keith as he requests below, please comment or e-mail so I can pass it on to him!


My name is Keith (Last name edited out),  and I just found your blog yesterday. It's great!

I have had Arthrogryposis since birth, and use a motorized wheelchair. Besides being a former Occasional Torture recipient (just kidding), your blog and OT interest me for a couple reasons. First, I work for a Center for Independent Living, which is a non-profit organization serving people with disabilities. Part of my job involves public speaking about the need to remove architectural and attitudinal barriers, and I frequently guest lecture to undergrad and grad OT classes. We also collaborate on joint projects. One year, a group of seniors conducted accessibility surveys of polling sites to make recommendations for changes in time for the presidential election.
Here's one that was fun: I met with a fairly small class of 5th year master's students. We divided them into pairs, and each pair would survey the accessibility of a restaurant of their choice. The kicker was that one student in each pair had to use a manual wheelchair, from the point of the parking lot to completion of the survey. They also had to check out restrooms. It was very enlightening!

When I met with the class, I asked if they encountered any attitudinal barriers. For instance, did the wait person asks the able bodied person what the person with the disability would have (happens much more often than you think), were they overly solicitous, etc. It was a fun discussion.

The second reason OT interests me is that I have OT students who are personal Care attendants. PA has a statewide program where a consumer can hire their own attendants after the consumer's been assessed for a certain number of hours of care per week. I've had students from a nearby university coming to my office at noon, weekdays, to help me with my lunch, for several years. They get paid, I get to eat, and they listen to my ramblings about disability issues. Seriously, they learn about my organization and our efforts.
Anyway, enough of my rants. I'd like  to hear your experiences  with volunteering/working with people with any kind of disability, and what area you're interested in. Have a great holiday, and I hope to hear from you.
Dec 30, 2007 | Category: Occupational Therapy | Comments: none