Consider for a moment what a woman’s life would be like if she had a major disability such as blindness, deafness, or a physical disability.

Week 8: Adulthood: Disability

Introduction

Consider for a moment what a woman’s life would be like if she had a major disability such as blindness, deafness, or a physical disability. What accommodations would she need to consider when shopping, house cleaning, caring for children, or getting to work? Though there are legal safeguards in place to protect the rights of Americans with disabilities, the disabilities can still have far ranging impacts on all aspects of life for those living with them.

As an example, consider Pamela, who became deaf as an adult. She functions well with some environmental modifications and a hearing dog. Her apartment has been set up with flashing lights to indicate when the doorbell rings or a smoke detector goes off. Her dog Sam has been taught to go to her and get her attention in these circumstances. Pamela reads lips, which means she must be able to see the speaker, which is often a problem in stores, buses, and restaurants. She works as a librarian in a university library; the environment has had to be altered to accommodate her needs. She often feels that she is labeled as “the deaf woman” and people do not see her as the individual she really is.

Pamela was recently diagnosed with a 50% loss of kidney function due to high blood pressure. This has required her to visit her doctor frequently and undergo regular blood and urine testing. She has had difficulty understanding her doctor’s explanations because he does not tend to face her when talking, despite her requests. He also uses technical language that is not clear to her.

Pamela’s situation illustrates just a few of the special considerations that may need to be addressed when designing or evaluating health promotion programs for women with disabilities. This week you examine some of the issues inherent to disabilities and how they may be accommodated in women’s health promotion programs.

People with disabilities often are underserved in health prevention and health promotion campaigns. These individuals are as at risk for other health problems as any other person, but health prevention and promotion outreach to them requires addressing their individual needs. As an example, consider some of the issues that would need to be addressed in a health promotion program for sexually transmitted infection (STI) prevention in a deaf community. Many deaf individuals have difficulty with reading, so it might be more effective to have a lecture with an American Sign Language interpreter. Even with this solution, however, there are considerations that need to be addressed. There is some controversy about sexually related signs, and many deaf people do not know the anatomically correct words/signs to discuss these issues. One alternative is to use the more vulgar ones that people know, but this may be offensive. As you can see, there are no easy answers, and decisions are not always clear cut. The important point to remember is that different disability populations have different needs, and having awareness of these needs helps you to be a more competent health psychology professional by designing more effective, empirically supported, programs.

For this Discussion, imagine that you are working with an oncologist specializing in breast cancer. The oncologist wants to initiate a publicity campaign promoting breast cancer screenings targeted toward women with disabilities. To prepare, select one specific disability to focus on and think about considerations you would need to address when communicating with women who have this disability through a breast cancer screening publicity campaign. (Select an issue other than deafness to use for this Discussion.)

With these thoughts in mind:

Post by Day 4 the type of disability you selected. Describe at least three issues related to this disability that should be considered in a publicity campaign for this program and explain why they are important. Finally, explain what types of publicity strategies you might use and how you might communicate them to the target population.

Readings

· Travis C. B.,  & Meltzer, A. L. (2008). Women’s health: Biological and social systems. In F. Denmark & M. Paludi (Eds.), Psychology of women: Handbook of issues and theories (2nd ed., pp. 353–399). Westport, CT: Greenwood Press.

· American Psychological Association. (2007). Guidelines for psychological practice with girls and women. American Psychologist, 62(9), 949–979.  Retrieved from the Walden Library databases.

· Andrews, E. E. (2011). Pregnancy with a physical disability: One psychologist’s journey. Retrieved from http://www.apa.org/pi/disability/resources/publications/newsletter/2011/12/pregnancy-disability.aspx

· McDermott, S., Moran, R., Platt, T., & Dasari, S. (2007). Health conditions among women with a disability. Journal of Women’s Health, 16(5), 713–720.  Retrieved from the Walden Library databases.

· Requejo Harris, J., Merialdi, M., Merzagora, F., Aureli, F., & Bustreo, F. (2010). The World Health Organization policy on global women’s health: New frontiers. Journal of Women’s Health, 19(11), 2115–2118.  Retrieved from the Walden Library databases.

· Wood, R., & Douglas, M. (2007). Cervical screening for women with learning disability: Current practice and attitudes within primary care in Edinburgh. British Journal of Learning Disabilities, 35(2), 84–92. Retrieved from the Walden Library databases.

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