Physical therapists can and should make “considerable efforts” to advocate for the inclusion of people with disabilities in their own profession, as in all walks of life, according to a new WCPT paper.
“Well informed health professionals, patients and clients, education and health administrators and society generally can all support greater inclusion,” says the new WCPT briefing paper, published in response to a General Meeting motion that the Confederation should be encouraging a disability rights-based approach to educational access and professional support.
Access to Physical Therapy Education and Practice for People with Disabilities calls for positive attitudes and support from peers, educators and employers – and a wider acceptance of individuals with different functioning abilities in the community at large.
The briefing paper, compiled by a project team and expert advisory group, reports on the findings of a survey of WCPT’s member organisations, gathering information about the education and practice of physical therapists with disabilities. It also provides a literature review on disability, education, employment and practice.
The information and resources are designed to support WCPT member organisations and their members implement inclusive policies that are in keeping with international guidelines and statutes.
“As physical therapists we manage our patients/clients with disabilities really well and have a strong focus on prevention,” said Margot Skinner, WCPT Vice President and a member of the document's advisory group. “But there is room for improvement in our attitude to accepting disability in our own profession.”
“The briefing paper provides excellent examples of students with disabilities entering professional programmes and physical therapists with disabilities managing successfully in practice. As a profession we need to remind ourselves about the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and ensure that we see colleagues with a disability as functioning differently, rather than seeing a disability as a deficit.”