Continuing with the focus on the importance of Disability Awareness training for organisations, in this week's section we will look at the Disability Awareness Support Scheme.
The Disability Awareness Support Scheme (DASS) is a scheme whereby private sector employers that provide disability awareness training for staff can apply for a grant which can cover up to 90% of the cost of the training. The purpose of the training is to ultimately address the knowledge gap that employers and staff may have when it comes to engaging people with a disability. It aims to create a greater level of awareness around disability and to ensure greater confidence for staff who have a colleague with a disability.
This training is funded under the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection's Reasonable Accommodation Fund. Employers are encouraged under the Equal Status Acts and the Employment Equality Acts to initiate positive action training. Positive action training is training which focuses on equality for marginalized groups, such as people with disabilities, while also focusing on the elimination of discriminatory practices.
While the National Disability Authority (NDA) do not offer Disability Awareness training themselves, they do provide guidelines on the overview and content of the training. It must be remembered that for any employer interested in sourcing Disability Awareness training for staff it must be stated as being for:
• Companies who are interested in employing or retaining staff with disabilities.
• Companies who are interested in promoting the employment of people with disabilities within their organisation.
• All staff at any level of seniority within a company.
There are a number of key areas which are recommended under the NDA Guidelines which should be covered during Disability Awareness training. These include overview of anti-discrimination and equal opportunities legislation, information on disabilities as well as abilities, disability and society, perceptual awareness, etiquette, communication and adopting a proactive approach by companies. In order to qualify for grant aid, all trainers offering Disability awareness training should:
1. Have a recognized training qualification.
2. Have relevant experience in the area.
3. Have a strong social model perspective. This refers to how the trainer focuses on the how barriers in society can be disabling for individuals.
4. Have extensive knowledge of disability policy issues.
5. Have experience of disability and have developed their training programme in consultation with people with disabilities.
It is regrettable that in 2019 there is such a wide ranging lack of awareness around disability as a subject matter topic. Far too many people have minimal knowledge of disability, and for some who do, in many cases it tends to be knowledge of one or two particular areas of disability.
This results in the homogenization of people with disabilities, which is turn leads to misrepresentation and misunderstanding of such a diverse group. With the DEASP funding a grant which which can cover up to 90% of the cost of training for organisations, there is very little excuse for organisations not to put aside one day to offer staff a comprehensive Disability Awareness training programme to help create a more open and genuinely inclusive environment for everyone.