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GO GEORGE staff sensitised to the world of persons with disabilities

14
Nov '22
A man standing at a digital board, pointing to a slide that describes the fact that disabilities may be visible or invisible.
Glen Fortuin, Community Development Worker at the George Association for Persons with Disabilities (APD), explains the importance of being sensitive towards people with invisible disabilities too.

“Knowledge does not lead to change – understanding does.”

This statement was the point of departure during a series of sensitisation workshops with GO GEORGE frontline staff presented by Glen Fortuin, Community Development Worker at the George Association for Persons with Disabilities (APD).

With November being Disability Rights Awareness Month, GO GEORGE is once again collaborating with key stakeholders who take an interest in people with disabilities, to raise awareness and achieve greater efficiency towards an inclusive service. The focus is on the attributes of GO GEORGE that make it accessible to all and to empower the community to access work, economic and educational opportunities.
Persons with disabilities include those who have perceived and or actual physical, psychosocial, intellectual, neurological and/or sensory impairments and who, as a result of various attitudinal, communication, physical or information barriers, are hindered in participating fully and effectively in society on an equal basis with others.

According to Morné Lakay, Acting GO GEORGE Manager, the bus service aims to empower frontline staff such as Call Centre agents, information officers and communication champions with skills to support persons with disabilities. “We want to assist with the process of attitude change among passengers. People’s intentions might be pure, but they might not know how to approach a person with a disability when offering assistance. We need to keep in mind that not all disabilities are visible when we interact with people in public and that many people might require different ways of interaction. People might refer to ‘wheelchair-bound’ people while the correct terminology is wheelchair users – Glen rightfully taught us that a wheelchair is a mode of transport and not a prison,” he said.

A few hints from Glen Fortuin:

  • Always speak to the person with the disability and not the person accompanying them.
  • Do not push a person’s wheelchair without their permission.
  • When talking to a wheelchair user, sit on a chair so that you sit at their eye level.
  • People using canes or crutches need their arms to balance themselves, so never grab them by the arm.
  • Be prepared to offer assistance to persons with limited hand, wrist or arm function.
  • If the person is unable to shake your hand, it is acceptable to fist-bump or put your hand on their arm or shoulder.
  • For people with hearing loss, speak one at a time; don’t cover your mouth; face them while talking.

Anyone with a disability feeling uncertain about using the GO GEORGE bus service is welcome to phone the GO GEORGE Call Centre on 0800 044 044 to request personal guidance and assistance by passenger support staff.

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