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People With A Disability

CONTEXT

The AMSA encourages participation in Men’s Sheds by people with all levels of ability and we encourage a focus on people’s abilities rather than their disabilities. However it is recognised that there are varying levels of disability amongst shedders which may or may not need specific interventions or practices to accommodate. For example many Men’s Shedders require spectacles and/or hearing aids which indicate that this person has a disability in the areas of vision and/or hearing. We naturally accommodate these people into the shed without giving a thought to it and we naturally focus on their abilities rather than their disabilities.

In this section we are referring to those people whose level of disability is considered to be such that the physical environment requires adaption and/or there is a level of intellectual or mental impairment that may require some shed practices to be adapted.

PEOPLE WITH LIMITED PHYSICAL ABILITIES

Generally the best way to accommodate people with a physical disability is by working with the person and asking them if and how the physical environment may need to be adapted in order to accommodate their participation in the shed. There may be no need to make changes or a need to make minor or major changes. National and State bodies are available to provide advice and expertise if this is deemed necessary.

Observation of how the person deals with the shed environment may also indicate changes needed but it is still important to work with the person and to seek their views and opinions and have respect for their thoughts and ideas as they are more likely to have the best ideas!

PEOPLE WITH INTELLECTUAL DISABILITIES

Whilst we all have varying degrees of intellectual abilities some individuals may require special care and/or consideration within the shed environment. It is strongly suggested that advice be sought from the person’s carer/guardian, service provider or other relevant sources to enable them to enjoy the shed as much as everybody else. If the person generally needs a support worker or carer then it should be expected that the support worker will accompany their client and be with their client at the shed. This may cause an issue within those sheds which generally do not have women at the shed. Depending on the level of intellectual impairment it may be worthwhile considering a trial period where the person is supported by their support worker or ‘carer’ for a time. It may even be possible to reduce or phase out some of that support over time as the other shedders become accustomed and aware of the person’s abilities and the person concerned becomes more comfortable within the shed environment and with the other shedders.

PEOPLE WITH A MENTAL HEALTH ISSUE

Once again special care and consideration may be required. The person themselves as well as carers/guardians, service providers and other sources can be a valuable source of information in dealing with individuals and allowing them to integrate effectively and harmoniously into the shed environment. Initial ‘carer’ support may be required and the level of support reviewed regularly to ensure that the esteem of the individual is respected by not ‘over servicing’ and the person is allowed the dignity of participating to their maximum ability.

IMPORTANT NOTES

  • Shedders should not ‘overdo’ the level of support required for an individual – support as required and if needed. It does not do the individual any favours by interfering when there is no need to.
  • Be aware of and work with the persons abilities rather than focus on what they cannot do.
  • Be aware that, for some individuals, some tasks may take longer to accomplish but it is important to show respect and consideration for each person by allowing them to operate at their level of ability with dignity.
  • The service providing general support to the person with a disability may be able to provide some training for the blokes from your shed which will help the inclusion of the person within the shed environment.
  • If the person with a disability requires a carer/support worker then that carer/support worker should be provided by the persons key support service. The support workers role may change over time.
  • Ensure that expectations and roles are clearly established. A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) may prove useful in establishing the expectations of all parties and this MOU may need regular updating. All parties should be involved in the development of an MOU.
  • If required, consider establishing a mentor – one key contact within the shed who will mentor the person with a disability.
  • Be open and honest with any service providers involved. If your Men’s shed has some concerns then voice them as the service may be able to help alleviate those concerns.
  • Shedders are clever people and many sheds have already made some great adaptations in order to be able to include people with varying levels of ability.