Values and Ethics

Disabilities
Myths and Realities
OVERVIEW: DISBILITY AND SOCIAL WORK VALUES

Administration for
Children and Families

Myth: People with disabilities have poor quality of life and deservesympathy, pity, and charity

Reality: The quality of a person's life depends onthe quality of their livingconditions, their accessto community activitiesand social relationships, and their opportinity tocontribute to society.

Self-Determination
Social and Economic Justice
Non-discrimination
Respect and appreciation for diversity
Social Work values provide an ethical framework for social work practice related to disabilities. The most
common value statements relevant to disabilities are self-determination, social and economic justice, non-
discriminiation, and respect and appreciation for dicersity. Tho Social Work profession generally defines
these as:
Social Work Code of Ethics
In this section you will find severeal activities designed to enliven these values for students as they work
with peoples with disabilities. Some are in-class activities and some are web or outside resources. You will
also find handouts and activities that have proven to be helpful. Additionally, these activities may be used to
inform other content areas sucj as Human Behavior in the Social Environment, Practice, and Policy.
From a Social Work perspective, disability is a civil rights issue. We cannot simply expect individuals to
change to fit society, but society must change to accommodate all people. People with disabilities are
entitled to full and equal participation in society. The American with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) was
enacted to assure protection of lefal rights and prohibit discrimination on the basis of disabilitiy in
employment, access to public services, public accommodation, commercial facilities, and requires telephone
companies to offer telephone relay service for people who use telecommunication services for the deaf
discrimination or attitudinal barriers for people with disabilities.
The traditional model of providing services to peple with disabilities places the control over services with
service providers. Disability rights advocates promote a move to greater self-determination for people with
disabilties. This is consistent with social work values - even though scuh self-determination has not and is
not always practiced by social service and other programs serving people with disabilities. Self-determination
  means having the freedom and authority to manage one's own life and make choices. This often means
having control over where to live and who to live with, what support staff will be hired and the training of
such support staff, choosing community connections and activities, choosing who will help with planning,
having authority over resources, and making decisions about employment and education. In other words,
having the same rights and popportunities as people without disabilities.
Social workers often serve in the role of advocate. Recognizing that people with disabilities can be self-
advocates and assisting them in that role, when appropriate, is consistent with empowerment. Social
workers must recognize that people with disabilities are capapbe people who deserve to be treated with
respect and held in esteem. Social workers need to identify strenths and abilities and work to remove
barriers that prohibit full participation in activities of living . Disability is a complex interaction between
person and environment. One may be considered as having a disabilitiy because of a physical condition,
however, it is barriers in the enviornment that turn disability into impairment and prevent full participation.
Read More in the Full Report
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