Multicultural Aspects of Disabilities: A Guide to Understanding and Assisting Minorities in
the Rehabilitation Process, Second Edition
By Willie V. Bryan
Charles C Thomas Publisher LTD, Springfield, Illinois 2007 348 pages list $69.95 hard ISBN 978-0-398-07708-2 list $49.95 paper ISBN 978-0-398-07709-9
Willie V. Bryan is professor emeritus of health promotion sciences at the University of Oklahoma. He has been a vocational rehabilitation counselor for the state of Oklahoma and director of personnel and rehabilitation services for Goodwill Industries of Oklahoma. His book takes an insightful look at the significance of culture in the medical rehabilitation process.
Written as a resource for health care and human service professionals who want to provide culturally competent clinical services, the book provides some new perspectives on the important role of cultural understanding in the planning and implementation of program services designed to accommodate the rehabilitation needs of clients and patients from diverse cultural backgrounds.
Bryan strongly believes that persons with disabilities occupy a unique place in American society, different from that of other minorities in our culture. He argues that, unlike cultural minorities whose group identity is connected primarily to social characteristics associated with their race, ethnicity, gender, age, socioeconomic status and religion, persons with disabilities from culturally diverse backgrounds have a dual identity that is linked to the larger American culture not only by their external group attributes but also by the internal individual physical and intellectual capabilities that define their level of social functioning. He points out that persons with disabilities represent an emerging cultural minority that is growing rapidly as life expectancy in our society continues to rise. He argues that as greater numbers of Americans live longer thanks to advances in medical technology, the social visibility of persons with disabilities in our culture is becoming an increasingly more common part of everyday life. This is especially true for individuals from culturally diverse backgrounds such as Blacks and Hispanics whose impoverished social living conditions often increase their vulnerability to the onset of life-threatening medical conditions that could result in permanent disability or death. He contends that as persons with disabilities from different cultures seek greater participation in all aspects of American life, the demand will rise for service providers with the skills and cultural knowledge to develop culturally sensitive strategic interventions that can effectively help these clients reach their social and vocational goals.
In Chapter 13, one of the most informative in the book, Bryan reviews basic psychological theories associated with building therapeutic relationships with persons with disabilities. He offers practical advice to rehabilitation professionals about how they can adapt these principles to provide culturally competent clinical services to disabled individuals from myriad cultures.
In sum, Multicultural Aspects of Disabilities is an outstanding, well-written text that should be placed on the reading list of university faculty teaching postgraduate courses in rehabilitation counseling, social work, psychology and rehabilitation medicine.