What I Learned from #AXSChat

Photo of woman with blonde hair and orange blouse sitting in front of screen magnifier

This post is a long response to an #AXSChat that takes place weekly on twitter. In the weekly sessions, various aspects of #Accessibility are discussed.

https://twitter.com/AXSChatThe thread is from the 8-18-2020 #AXSChat

I owe @vavroom an apology for not seeing the links the first 2 times No excuse-just explaining: the dark theme in Tweetdeck makes links blue on a black background.

In the examples provided by you and @abrightclearweb (Thank you both!), the sim I referenced occurred 30 years ago and was unrefined in comparison to the sims you and @abrightclearweb showed me. In the nursing school sim, it was the very first building block in a 2 year nursing program working in clinical settings with patients and seasoned professionals in disability, physical rehab and special needs (RNs with Masters or PhDs, MDs, PTs, OT, O&M, etc. The settings spanned the entire continuum of care: home health, inpatient acute, medical surgical, telemetry, SNFs, acute rehab, long term rehab, outpatient clinics, behavioral health, critical care, pediatrics, cognitive therapists, etc. Our patient populations spanned from cradle to the grave as the saying goes.

In contrast, the simulations in the examples provided to me seemed like they were also a journey: the first attempts were conducted by well-intentioned folks trying to learn without the benefit of input from PWDs. The studies seemed to all ultimately reach the same conclusions: able bodied people guessing how PWD’s might approach and deal with barriers is not as accurate as having PWD demonstrate and/or communicate their unique needs. I know it’s far more complex than that; I’m just summarizing my general interpretation of the materials I read.

It is important to note that the one nursing school sim I referenced did not have a disabled person on-site demonstrating to us what they needed. Perhaps I should have pointed out in my tweet that the professionals leading the simulation possessed years of experience working with all patient populations. Since nurses are on the front lines and being trained to keep people alive, our curriculum is standardized, heavily regulated and developed by our state nursing boards based on decades of evidence-based scientific research taught by licensed seasoned professionals: RNs with Masters or PhDs; MDs; PTs; OTs; STs; ETs;, etc

The reason I point this out is to show that it was not just a bunch of new nursing students guessing what PWDs need. Our clinical instructors were simply letting us see how a few rudimentary barriers felt. So basic, yet it was eye-opener for many of us 20-somethings: fresh-faced college students in our little make-shift hospital that was our classroom. We spent two 10-hour days a week in our classroom/lab followed by two days of 12-hour shifts in the hospital providing direct patient care under the guidance of inter-disciplinary teams of professional clinicians. The sim was just our first foray into walking in the shoes of others for a few minutes with barriers to START to gain an understanding of disability, barriers, the pathophysiology of the conditions that cause disability as well as non-clinical factors: psycho-socio-economic, cultural, theological, that also impact health.

By the end of our training, we came to the same conclusions as the examples: if you really want to understand what someone is going through, have them tell/show you and you take your steps in their shoes. Like the examples provided, we learned cookie-cutter questions for all disabilities do not cut it. In order to really understand their specific needs, you have to work with the PWD to assess their needs, challenges, etc. #AXSChat

Author: Tenayshus