This is an archived version of the Virtual Volunteering Project web site from January 2001.
The materials on the web site were written or compiled by Jayne Cravens.
The Virtual Volunteering Project has been discontinued.
The Virtual Volunteering Project web site IS NO LONGER UPDATED.
Email addresses associated with the Virtual Volunteering Project are no longer valid.
For any URL that no longer works, type the URL into archive.org
.
For new materials regarding online volunteering, see
Jayne Cravens' web site (the section on volunteerism-related resources).
 
 
 
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working with online volunteers
who have disabilities:

initial preparation

 
In addition to training staff in involving volunteers virtually, we encourage your entire staff to become familiar with readily-available guidelines for working with people with disabilities, and to consider having staff go through training in disability awareness and etiquette. Such guidelines and training can help your staff make welcome people with a variety of disabilities.

The most difficult obstacles to surmount for a person with a disability can be the attitudes of others, such as prejudice and stereotyping. An important part of your organization's efforts to welcome and actively recruit people with disabilities as volunteers is to get a sense of your own and your staff's sensitivity to and knowledge about people with disabilities. Youth Volunteer Corps provides two questionnaires to help you measure your own and your staff's views of people with disabilities: Scale of Attitudes towards Disabled Persons (SADP), and the Disability Quotient Questionnaire, as well as excercises to encourage staff discussions. These worksheets are available by calling Youth Volunteer Corps at 913-864-4095.

 
 
Conversation(2)

  • Take a person-first approach to working with volunteers who have disabilities. A volunteer's disability should only be considered in the context of deciding what accommodations will work best for that volunteer.

  • If the disability isn't germane to the story or conversation, don't mention it.

  • Make reference to the person first, then the disability. Say "a person with a disability" rather than "a disabled person." The latter is acceptable in the interest of conserving print space or saving announcing time.

  • A person is not a condition, so avoid describing a person as such. Don't present someone as "an epileptic" or "a post polio". Instead, say "a person with epilepsy" or "a person who has had polio."

  • The term "handicapped" comes from the image of a person standing on the corner with a cap in hand, begging for money. A disability is a functional limitation that interferes with a person's ability to walk, hear, talk, learn, etc. Use "handicap" to describe a situation or barrier imposed by society, the environment or oneself.

  • Remember, a person who has a disability isn't necessarily chronically sick or unhealthy. He or she is often just disabled.

  • Don't assume that a voluteer with a sight-impairment can read Braille. Many people with such impairments acquired them later in life, and never learned Braille.

  • When speaking about people with disabilities, emphasize their achievements, abilities and individual qualities. Portray them as they are in real life: as parents, employees, business owners, etc.

  • Relax. Don't be embarrassed if you use common expressions such as "See ya later" or "Gotta run."

 
Accommodations

"An accommodation is any adjustment made to the environment which enhances access to, and use of the area. Accomodations very greatly in complexity and expense" (2). Volunteers with disabilities probably know more about assistive technologies -- software and hardware that allows them to surf the 'Net, write documents, etc. -- and how to obtain such technologies, than you do. Still, it's a good idea to be aware of some of the tools out there; it will help you see just how much a person can help your organization via the Internet regardless of physical disability.

  • If you are uncertain about the wants or needs of a volunteer with a disability, ASK! Give volunteers opportunities to tell you what changes might need to be made.

  • Remember in your Web site design that people with disabilities use special tools to browse the Web, and these tools can be confused by some Web site designs and functions. Impact Online has information and links to tools to help you make your Web site accessible to as many users as possible.

  • When planning events which could involve persons with disabilities, consider their needs before choosing a location.

 
Other parts of this resource:

 
Credits

Some of this information was adapted from other sources, which offer excellent additional information about working with volunteers with disabilities, on or offline.

We would like to expand the resources on this page, by including others' suggestions and first hand narratives. If you would like to share information with the Virtual Volunteering Project about your own experiences working with volunteers virtually, please contact us.

If you have helped or are helping organizations as a volunteer via your home or work computer, please complete our online survey for volunteers and tell us about your experiences.

Also view


This component of the Virtual Volunteering Project is made possible by a special grant from the Mitsubishi Electric America Foundation. We are most grateful for their support and collaboration.


If you find this or any other Virtual Volunteering Project information helpful, or would like to add information based on your own experience, please contact us.


 
Copyright © 1999 - 2000 The University of Texas at Austin
All Rights Reserved.


 
This is an archived version of the Virtual Volunteering Project web site from January 2001.
The materials on the web site were written or compiled by Jayne Cravens.
The Virtual Volunteering Project has been discontinued.
The Virtual Volunteering Project web site IS NO LONGER UPDATED.
Email addresses associated with the Virtual Volunteering Project are no longer valid.
For any URL that no longer works, type the URL into archive.org
.
For new materials regarding online volunteering, see
Jayne Cravens' web site (the section on volunteerism-related resources).
 

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