FOR ICT TRAINERS
CONCERNING DISABILITY and AGEING ISSUES
This manual will give you an exemplary tips how to communicate or work with your trainees with disabilities. The material is designed to help you to identify and implement the right ‘recipe’ about how to behave with your trainee with a disability. You should not treat this guidance as a prescription but as friendly advice based on long-term experience in training of people with disabilities.
A physical disability is any impairment which limits the physical function of one or more limbs, fine or gross motor ability. Other physical disabilities include impairments which limit other facets of daily living, such as respiratory disorders and epilepsy.
A physical impairment can be caused by a range of conditions that can be temporary or permanent. The effects can change from day to day; they can remain the same or get progressively worse over time. The condition may affect some parts of the body or the whole of it.
The following conditions are often associated with difficulties with mobility or manual dexterity:
· Muscular Dystrophy covers a group of inherited disorders that involves deterioration and wasting of muscle fibres.
· Cerebral Palsy is a disorder that relates to bad coordination and involuntary movements of the muscles.
· Paralysis means a loss of feeling in certain parts of the body and being able to move these parts of the body.
· Hemiplegia is the paralysis of one side of the body because of a stroke or brain injury. It is not the same as paraplegia or quadriplegia where the brain is not affected. With hemiplegia, there may be an impairment of intellect, personality, speech or the senses.
· Paraplegia is the paralysis of the lower limbs and part or all of the trunk muscles. Usually there is a loss of sensation in paralysed limbs as well as other effects such as muscle spasms, pain and loss of bowel and bladder control.
· Quadriplegia occurs when there is damage to the spinal cord in the Cervical Region. This will cause impairment to the hands and arms in addition to the effects of paraplegia.
· Multiple Sclerosis is a disorder of the nervous system that attacks the brain and spinal cord and causes deterioration of the nerve tissue. This is usually associated with paralysis, muscle spasms, disorders of speech, and tremors of the hand.
· Polio is a disease that kills nerve tissue in the spinal cord. It causes a high fever and paralysis of different muscles and gradually malfunctions of lungs.
If your trainee is a physically disabled person, he/she may face difficulties associated with following:
· Difficulties with co-ordination and movement;
· Difficulties with endurance and stamina;
· Routine tasks such as driving, household chores, cooking and grooming may be difficult and/or tiring;
· Difficulty accessing facilities that others take for granted such as toilets, cafes, workplaces etc.;
If his/her hands or arms are affected they may:
· Have difficulty with handwriting;
· Be unable to write using a pen;
· Have a slow writing speed;
· Have difficulty turning pages;
· Have difficulty using a standard keyboard or mouse;
· Have difficulty using office equipment;
· Have difficulty filing or storing documents.
Overtaking ageism (stereotyping and prejudice against persons because of their age) in the workplace requires a significant shift in perceptions for both employers and workers. Ageist behaviour is normally based on stereotyped prejudices, labelling and practices, rather than an active dislike of a particular age group. Age-related assumptions might be positive or negative – and could influence an employment decision, thus are classed as discriminatory.
Typical negative examples are: ‘younger workers are less reliable’ or ‘senior workers are more set in their ways’. Alternatively, on the other side, also generalisation such as ‘younger workers are more enthusiastic’ or ‘senior workers are more loyal’ should be avoided.
While ageism is still present, increasingly alternative approaches to support seniors’ employment are becoming available nowadays. Employers are increasingly realising the positive influence of experienced and skilled senior employees. As an outcome of the increasing mutual understanding and flexibility of both parties, a number of alternatives for the employment of seniors (50+) have been initiated.
For example, British Telecom uses some of the following approaches:
· Offering employees an opportunity to work part time or applying job-sharing;
· Enabling employees to reduce their work commitments by taking a lower grade job with less responsibility;
· Timing out, which allows employees to take phased sabbaticals;
· Encouraging employees to take up full - or part time secondments;
· Allowing employees to reduce gradually working hours and/or responsibilities.
Also, legislation is being adjusted, for example: in UK, there is the new Equality act 2010: Age discrimination legislation therefore applies effectively to everyone who is applying for work and who is in work. Employers, Vocational Training Providers, Employment Agencies, and Occupational Pension Scheme Trustees/Managers etc. are all bound by the law and cannot discriminate against any individual because of their age; neither can they force anyone to leave employment just because of their age. Although most of the senior often have lot of experience, they face lack of motivation. As is true for adults of all ages, the previous educational level is the single best predictor of participation in non-formal and informal educational activities. The seniors are more influenced by Cognitive Interest to engage in the trainering programme than by any other factors.
Highly experienced seniors who want stimulating activities participate in such activities because they are interested in knowledge. They aim to get familiar with current labour market trends. When developing programmes for seniors, have to bear in mind that these should cover their interests and needs. This actually arises the need for motivation training, while also focusing on new tendencies and taking equally into account the relevancy of required.
Furthermore, a particular lack of adaptive social behaviour (i.e. personal and interpersonal skills) is observed among seniors. These are mainly the soft skills, but also the more practical, as well as the ICT skills which are becoming increasingly more important to a degree that they are basically needed in every kind of job.
You as a trainer should be aware of the opportunities offered by ICT, but especially need to be cautious to identify in time specific age-related problems or disability limitations that may experience and which might hamper the ICT knowledge ability of the trainee.
These problems can be mainly categorised in the following areas:
• Memory: seniors may well experience problems in getting accustomed with ICT, and especially with functionalities of software because of the problem they have with remembering and recalling new material.
• Vision: Vision generally declines from the age of 18 to 40. After 40 there is a sharp decline for the next 15 years, but after age 55 the decline in vision occurs at a slower rate.
• Coordination and motoric skills: for both trainees who are physically disabled people or seniors may have difficulty controlling devices such as the mouse or touch pad and may also have difficulty in being able to click the mouse. In this respect, assistive technologies exist such as trackballs to make it easier for them to use a computer, while a larger screen can also be of assistance.
You as a trainer should:
If your trainee is with disability, it may cause some challenges when he/she is using ICT. You as a trainer may support him/her by making some reasonable adjustments for raising accessibility of the materials (paper or electronic) used during the training process.
· Colour – never convey information by colour alone
· Design simply – in simple layouts, it is relatively easy to draw attention to important features and differences; in more complex layouts it becomes harder to highlight features, thus making presentations even more complex
· Contrast – if there are dyslexic users - dark blue on pale blue, or black on yellow (black on pale yellow (RGB 255, 254, 227) suits all). Avoid green, red/pink. Ensure sufficient contrast so that it is easier to distinguish items, both visual and auditory (cf. WCAG 2.0, W3C, 2008a)
· Fonts: Sans serif, such as Arial or Comic Sans (N.B. Read Regular is a font specifically designed for dyslexics, http://www.readregular.com/english/dyslexia.html )
· Point size – minimum 14, 18 point ideal for dyslexic.
· Leading space – 1.5 to 2
· Type weight – avoid light type weights; Use bold to highlight, NO capitals, italic or underline
· Alignment – left; avoid justified text – the uneven spacing is difficult for dyslexics
· Navigable – help users navigate, find content and know where they are: by placing navigation information in the same place (usually at the top) and ensuring that it is consistent and simple, using maps when appropriate, using home and back buttons, providing context and orientation information.
· Use accessibility features – HTML/XML have inherent accessibility features (e.g., alt text, long desc) which should always be used; Other formats (e.g., Java, Flash, Games environments) are not necessarily accessible, although this is improving with more recent versions having accessibility features, which should be used; provide alternatives where possible
· Line length – between 60 – 70 letters per line; lines that are too long tire the eyes. The same applies to sentence and paragraph length
· Paragraphs – extra line(s) between
· Columns – clear margin between columns; if space doesn’t allow, use a vertical rule
· Text – make any text plain text (rather than images or graphics), no dense blocks of text. No flashing, moving text.
· Setting text – avoid fitting text around images if that means that lines start in different places. Set text horizontally rather than vertically. Avoid setting text over images
· Navigational aids – should always appear in the same place. Leave space between paragraphs. Contents list and rules to separate sections are useful.
· Writing style – short simple sentences, clear and concise (use MSWord readability statistics)
Think carefully and thoroughly judge the situation before using any of these tips. Remember each person even with one and the disability is unique and what works well for one person may not be successful with another one.
1) Do not be afraid to ask questions about issues relating to the person, which are considered “uneasy matters”. (For example: the age of the person, difficulties/lacks, disability, etc.).
2) Do not be embarrassed to use words describing actions, which are obviously not achievable for the person with a disability when talking with him/her. (For example: Saying to visually impaired person: “Did you watch that TV broadcasting yesterday?” it is common to say “I watch TV”, not “I listen to TV”.
3) Let the trainee inform the team about the specific characteristics concerning health and/or social status and their influence upon employability.
4) When you, as a trainer, decide to set a task, which you think could be challenging for your trainee due to their specific status, do not give up before discussing it with the person and then take the final decision.
5) When you set a task to your trainee with disability that requires collaboration with another member of the group, let your trainee choose their co-workers.
6) During the training sessions, ask your trainee with disability whether everything is clear. If the answer is “no”, repeat the information, trying to speak more clearly and explain in more descriptive ways.
7) Do not show special attitudes or be patronizing towards your trainee with disability. No matter if it’s face-to-face or in front of other trainees or your colleagues.
8) Do not make excuses for particular mistakes or omissions by the trainee while performing his/her tasks, excusing him/her because of their disability.
9) When setting a task for your trainee with disability, discuss in advance the time needed for its completion. In some cases it may take more time than usual.
10) When you set up a training session with your trainee with disability, be sure in advance to coordinate with him/her the arrangements and the conditions for travelling.
11) Ask your trainee about any specific requirements (i.e. assistive technologies) or needs related to his/her disability.
12) Do your best to predispose the trainee to disclose any information that concerns his/her disability.
13) Let your trainee with disability share with the rest of the group or your colleagues about his/her specific status, if they consider it necessary.
14) In the case that a problem caused by the specific status of your trainee appears, discuss it with him/her before taking any consequent actions.
15) Let your trainee with disability work as independently as possible, without excessive supervision.
1) As a trainer allocate enough time for providing knowledge and time for reflection - the seniors take more time to reflect on the received knowledge than the younger people. They compare the information with their previous experience and they are less enthusiastic towards innovative content.
2) As a trainer be patient and allocate more time for implementing training sessions since seniors are frightened to use modern technologies instead of face-to-face.
3) As a trainer you should carefully select your way of expression regarding the process of training because usually the seniors don’t accept anyone younger to lead them.
4) As a trainer you could encourage the senior to take notes since usually the senior’s process the information when it comes through more than one channel (not only by listening but also by writing or by exercising).
5) Sometimes the seniors may oppose towards your ideas and guidance so does not accept such behaviour as a negative reaction but as a trainer try to reduce the tension and give more clarification and positive examples.