Updated: Apr 12
Dr. Namira Williams, CEO, disAbility Maternity Care
Being a parent is hard at any time, but having a disability makes this even harder. Not only because the type of disability a person has can affect their movement, sensory or cognitive abilities, but especially because many people in the general community don’t think people with disabilities can become parents.
It’s this stigmatisation that makes parenting much more difficult. Research shows that parents with disabilities can succeed, given the right support in ways that are acceptable to them.
But many parents miss getting this support for various reasons: either because they are distrustful of services, or because health and support services may not know how to provide support that will best meet their needs.
Even though parents with disabilities are starting to see changes, they are limited to date.
At disAbility Maternity Care, our vision is for parents with disabilities to be equal and empowered citizens.
For equality to occur, changes are needed in a range of areas. As my research showed, change is required in several areas, and at the same time.
Our business is built on creating changes in each of these so that together they work to change the conversation.
Over the next few months we will be focusing on specific aspects of how we are creating change. In this article, I describe our organisational vision and approach.
What is important for us at disAbility Maternity Care?
“Our vision is for parents with disabilities to be equal and empowered citizens”
As champions for change, we see that there are three main areas in which change needs to occur, and these underpin our Organisation’s Strategic Priorities:
We create change as we Inform the conversation and do this by undertaking or engaging in research projects with collaborative partners.
In an era of evidence-based practice, policy change needs to be supported by relevant research. When policies are changed to focus on positive outcomes as defined by parents with disabilities, policies enable restructuring in how things are done and how these parents are better supported within health, disability and community organisations.
We are also informing the conversation as we raise awareness of the issues that these parents face, and the need to reduce stigmatisation.
We educate others about the need for change, and provide training for both health and disability providers around maternity care for parents with disabilities.
This gives these providers a better understanding of how they can learn from, and work with disabled parents to support them better.
We connect parents with services. We do this through our organisation DMC Support, providing parents with specific support services.
As the third supporting pillar of disAbility Maternity Care’s vision, having a knowledgeable workforce that focuses specifically on assisting the transition to parenthood is essential.
Our small team at disAbility Maternity Care has either lived experience of disability themselves, as a person, or a carer, or has worked within the disability field.
Next month, we will be focusing on the importance of education in reframing the conversation for parents with disabilities.
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