1 Klaipeda University (LITHUANIA)
2 LCC International University (LITHUANIA)
About this paper:
Appears in: INTED2021 Proceedings
Publication year: 2021
Pages: 7516-7523
ISBN: 978-84-09-27666-0
ISSN: 2340-1079
doi: 10.21125/inted.2021.1510
Conference name: 15th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 8-9 March, 2021
Location: Online Conference
Disability represents a wide range of medical and social conditions that encompass highly heterogeneous population; therefore, it is challenging to understand this diversity. Thus, disability appears like the elephant in the room — present, but unnoticed (1). In recent decades, concept of disability is enlarged as universe human experience, however, disability remains unrecognized in the field of health care. To put more emphasis on human development approach the term of disability has been replaced with human development oriented (i.e., developmental disabilities) and health-status focused terms (i.e., mental health/socioemotional disabilities). It is expected that upcoming terminology will be helpful in seeing disability as a part of human diversity, rather than something problematic that should be “fixed” (2).

The objective of the current study is integration of disability into healthcare education.
The research aim of the current study is to explore experience of learning about disability in healthcare education.
The interview sample encompassed 20 students and 13 professors enrolled in last year BA degree programs at the university in Lithuania. For data analysis the content analysis was carried out.

There is growing positive recognition in the society about integration of people with mobility impairments, autism, Down syndrome, and other disabilities. However, students’ experiences tell that they are not prepared for meeting people with disabilities in their field work because their learning about disabilities during studies is based mainly on separate situations in practice when they happen to meet someone who has an impairment. Therefore, in a such situations students feel they have to act ad hoc and stressed, at least for the first time.

The current study results reveal that disability is not integrated into healthcare education on the conceptual level, therefore, it depends on teachers’ free will to be disability oriented in teaching. In other words, health care studies are disability-neutral. Teachers and students consider that learning has to serve for solving disability issues, for example, by employing team work in health care settings. Hogan (2019) notes, disability should be seen as a valued form of human diversity, rather than an individual and tragic problem to be lamented and solved.

In general students and teachers of the current study have positive social attitudes towards people with disabilities. However, students and teachers consider disability within the framework of disease and illness.

The results of our study reveal that when disability studies are not taught as a separate course in healthcare studies, future specialists start latently forming an attitude toward disability as an individualized phenomenon. Even though both students and professors clearly demonstrate a positive and empathic attitude toward people with disabilities, nevertheless, the general positive attitude is in an ambivalent relationship with the professional attitude, which individualizes disability and then thinking grounded in medical model is unilaterally being reinforced.

[1] Iezzoni, L. Going Beyond Disease to Address Disability. New England Journal of Medicine, 2006, 355(10): 976 -979.
[2] Kattari, S. K., Lavery, A. & Hasche, L. Applying a social model of disability across the life span. Journal of Human Behavior in the Social Environment, 2017, 27:8, 865-880, DOI: 10.1080/10911359.2017.1344175
Disability, health care, education.