When supporting an adult with disability in employment and the broader community we often have the best of intentions, trying to eliminate all risks. However allowing individuals to take risks and step into the unknown is part and parcel of treating people with disability as dignified adults.
This is not equivalent to encouraging recklessness; allowing risk does not mean being unsafe or setting people up to fail. Nor is it exclusively about manual handling, operating machinery or factory work, we maybe excluding people based on operational risks in leadership, administrative, supervisor or creative job roles. Dignity of risk is more about avoiding stereotypes and discriminatory attitudes that can make this even more difficult for a person with disability to be seen as a person.
Rather, we should be striving to support individuals into prudent risk-taking, by utilising every educational and training opportunity. Before automatically excluding someone from a job task or recreation or overly simplifying or insisting on superfluous procedure or personal protective equipment (PPE). Through prudent education, training and supervision we can assess risk on a case by case basis where dignity, training and trust are the first choices before imposing other limitations, barriers or costs.
With this we can bring meaning into peoples’ lives by providing people with disability every practical opportunity to try new things, test limits, and discover capabilities they never knew they had. Helping to achieve goals, independence and enrich lives.
Anyone who lives a life of dignity take risks every day. Each of us in the pursuit of jobs, our personal and romantic relationships, our leisure activities and our adventure has stepped into the unknown and risked failure, rejection, and even our physical well-being. Anything any of us have ever accomplished has come from some level of risk-taking. The benefits of succeeding in these situations, or from learning from our mistakes are a crucial element in our development as independent valued people.