Skills training and disability : a life hsitory study of adults with intellectual disabilities at protected workshops.
According to Statistics South Africa (2005, p.1) approximately 5 percent of the total South African population are affected with different types of disabilities. People with disabilities experience marginalization and despite legislation and advocacy their employment opportunities are limited. Due to lack of social and physical infrastructure they are excluded from places of employment. This study aimed to document the perceptions and experiences of mildly intellectually disabled adults with regard to skills training at two protected workshops in the Durban region. The medical, social and biopsychosocial models of disability have influenced policy design and legislation over the years. In recent years due to a paradigm shift disability is viewed within the biopsychosocial model of disability. Thus the theoretical and conceptual framework underpinning my study is the biopsychosocial model of disability which focuses on functioning at the level of the whole person in a social context. The second conceptual lens of my study focuses on the concept of self-determination. Self-determined individuals are those that bring about a change in their own lives. Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences forms the third conceptual lens of my study. This new concept of intelligence includes areas such as music, spatial relations and interpersonal knowledge in addition to mathematical and linguistic ability. The study was conducted within the interpretivist paradigm. It was a qualitative study that adopted a life history approach. Interviews and observation were the two methods of data collection as this enabled me to gain an in-depth understanding of the participants’ perceptions and experiences. The data is presented in the form of life history narratives. Content analysis was used to analyse the data and coding was used to categorise the data into themes. The conclusions reached in the study are included with recommendations for areas of further research with the aim of skills training leading to an income generating activity as well as improving the employment opportunities of mildly intellectually disabled people.