Natasha Volny is emBOLDen Alliance’s (eA) Master of Public Health Intern. She is currently pursuing her MD and MPH degrees at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus, with a concentration in Global Health and Health Disparities. After completing her MPH, Natasha returns to complete her final year of medical school and then aims to begin training in Emergency Medicine.
One of Natasha’s primary projects with eA has been our partnership with Uhambo, which is supported by the Posner Center International Collaboration Fund. One of this project’s many goals comes to fruition on May 18th, when we co-host a training on Disability Inclusion with Uhambo at the Posner Center for International Development. Through that training, participants will learn how to thoroughly include disabled persons in designing and implementing programs and service delivery. The training is created for adult learning with interactive Case Studies, Lessons Learned, and Best Practices. Thanks to the 2017 Posner Center International Collaboration Fund, this training will be complementary for Posner Tenants and Members, and non-members will be asked to pay only a nominal fee. For those unable to attend in-person, there are remote attendance options.
Natasha shared her perspectives about working on this collaboration focused on Disability Inclusion:
What has your role been in eA’s partnership between Uhambo and the Posner International Collaboration Fund?
My role has primarily been to help with the development of a survey to assess the baseline level of knowledge, understanding, and practice of Disability Inclusion amongst the many organizations in the Posner Center Network. I designed and implemented the survey and then analyzed the data to inform the training on May 18.
What are some of your big takeaways from the survey?
One of the most obvious findings from the survey data was that not many people working in International Development entities receive training on Disability Inclusion. Many organizations reported a lack of access to training and information to help integrate and actualize these issues even if there has been awareness. So, we are happy to report that there is quite a bit of interest and that organizations are eager to learn. These organizations want to be able to implement Best Practices, from identifying what those are to utilizing them effectively.
What defines a Person With Disability?
Persons With Disability is a very diverse group. A disability can encompass anything from mobility issues, to hearing or visual impairments, to learning impairments, to chronic health issues, and more. This vast field requires tailoring in different ways. Depending upon the population with whom one is working and the prevalence of different disabilities in that population, there are adjustments or adaptations that can be made which have a very large impact.
In one sentence, what is Disability Inclusion?
Disability Inclusion, to me, represents making certain that policies and practices are in place so that programs and services are fully accessible to a person with any disability.
“If our goal in global development is to truly create an environment and provide a service
that brings a benefit to a population or community, I believe it is our duty to take into account
all the different needs within that community, listen to what kinds of barriers exist,
and work collaboratively to support inclusiveness.”
Why is it important to be trained on Disability Inclusion?
Complete inclusion practice doesn’t necessarily come naturally for people who themselves do not experience life with a disability. If our goal in global development is to truly create an environment and provide a service that brings a benefit to a population or community, I believe it is our duty to take into account all the different needs within that community, listen to what kinds of barriers exist, and work collaboratively to support inclusiveness.
One example that I personally faced recently is in sending my wedding invitations. Our guest list includes a loved one who is blind, and I sent them a paper invitation. They called and were upset, asking me to leave them a voicemail with the time, date, and details. I hadn’t even considered the fact that their visual impairment would prevent them from using the wedding invitation for its intended purpose. It’s not necessarily a part of everyone’s daily thinking about how to adapt our programs or processes or the ways in which we interact with people in order to be wholly inclusive. It can be hurtful to individuals if they cannot participate in programs, access services, or be heard equally.
Why should someone come to this training on May 18?
The International Development space is changing to be inclusive of all types of people. Persons With Disability is an important and sometimes invisible marginalized group. To date, I don’t think we, as a whole working in this field, have been done a complete job of specifically tailoring our programming to ensure that what we are providing is inclusive. It’s an important topic that is getting more momentum and attention. What we are going to do in the training is not only provide basic practical awareness knowledge and skills, but also a toolbox and a network of resources to utilize as well as to understand further needs for adaptation and tailoring.
So people will come away with a toolbox – specific things that they will actually be able to implement?
That is our goal. Our goal is really not to be just another informative session, rather to provide skills and the tools necessary to take this into practice and take action.