International Day of People with Disabilities, 3rd December 2020



To celebrate International Day of People with Disabilities 2020, themed 'Not all Disabilities are Visible', we are releasing two articles from Paramedic Insight, for all to read.

The 2020 International Day of People with Disabilities, is part of the annual celebration of people with disabilities, Disability History Month, 18 November to 18 December, and focuses on spreading awareness and understanding of disabilities that are not immediately apparent such as mental illness, chronic pain or fatigue, sight or hearing impairments, diabetes, brain injuries, neurological disorders, learning differences and cognitive dysfunctions, among others.

Our first article is an interview with Richard Webb-Stevens, a Motorcycle Paramedic with London Ambulance Service.

Looking at a picture of you in your bike gear, no-one would know that you suffer from profound sensorineural hearing loss. Can you tell us what that means for you in everyday life?
"I was born with bilateral severe/profound sensorineural hearing loss and have worn hearing aids for over 40 years. […] I have been able to adapt and cope as best I can. I wear hearing aids, but unlike glasses they cannot fully resolve my hearing loss. They are however amazing as without them I could not do my job. I use the hearing aids’ Bluetooth connectivity to use mobile phones and when I work in the control room, I have adapted induction loop headphones for using the landlines.
I once designed an adaptive ear mould which enabled me to simultaneously use the Genesis headset and my hearing aids so I could talk to the control room and hear my patients too."

Read more here.

Sadly, because of the Covid-19 pandemic, we were unable to go ahead with our National Conference in May, so our excitement to hear Richard speak at the event was unfulfilled. However, we look forward to Richard presenting at another College CPD event in the future.

Our second article is Neurodiversity – unique attributes, powerful assets, opportunities needed! by Gemma Howlett, now Principal Lecturer for Paramedic Apprenticeships at the University of Cumbria, who talked with newly qualified paramedic James Bridge, now working as a paramedic with Polaris Medical Services.

I asked James; what they thought the top advantages of encouraging a more neurodiverse workforce were?
“Once you open the doors and remove barriers, you allow a wholly new unique element into the workforce. My neurodiversity allows for me to maintain greater accuracy through an ability to detect errors and higher levels of concentration. Being autistic gives me certain strengths. Reliability, determination and persistence, technical strength, and exceptionally strong recall and detailed factual knowledge."

Read more here.

James prefers the pronouns they/them to refer to themself, this was a mistake on the College’s part when publishing the original article. James is aware of this situation and has accepted an apology. Read more about using they/them pronouns here

Gemma and James’ article can also be read on page 94 in the Paramedic Practice-Based Learning: A Handbook for Practice Educators and Facilitators, by Dr Vince Clarke MCPara, Trustee Official for Education: 
International Day of People with Disabilities is about celebrating the achievements and contributions of people with all abilities. For the College of Paramedics and our members, it is about promoting awareness, understanding and acceptance of the benefits of having people who are differently able, or who are living with long term conditions, within the paramedic profession.
“Diverse representation amongst paramedics will bring a richness to the future of our profession and will eventually reflect better the communities we serve.”
Tracy Nicholls, CEO, College of Paramedics