Practical Programs That Create Awareness

Disability Awareness Training recognizes that every organization and environment is unique, which is why every training program is customized to the needs, goals, and audience defined by the organization.

The list below represents core program topics from which customized training is based. Please contact us to discuss your specific goals and needs.

Abuse Prevention

abusepreventiondemoDAT has developed online Abuse Prevention training for service providers of individuals with developmental disabilities and Home Health Aides. Philadelphia Insurance (PIIC) contracted with DAT to produce these trainings and are making them available to their clients through their loss control department.

DAT has joint owenrship of these trainings and can train or consult with agencies in this topic area. Click here to view a demo of the online training.



DAT believes that Inclusion begins in places of worship — aren't they supposed to be open and accepting of all who profess their faith?

Dave has served on the Diocesed of Buffalo's Disability Action Team since April 2007. He has developed the initiative outlined below that will allow for total acceptance and inclusion. DAT can seamlessly apply this to other faiths. Some of DAT's connections to places of worship include:

  • Trained the religious education staff at the United Universalist Church
  • Trained the religious education staff at St. Gregory the Great RC Church
  • Did seminiars at the Diocese of Buffalo's parish life study days in 2008
  • Has met with Bethesda regional director Sanra Rice
  • Has met with Yad B'Yad staff
  • Has met with the NYS Catholic Conference
  • Is scheduled to train at the Diocese of Buffalo Respect Life conference September 12th
  • Is scheduled to train the Buffalo Jewish Education staff October 27th
  • Has been tentatively asked to train at the Jewish Federation of Albany on November 22nd

Read more: Spirituality


Disability Awareness

What’s the best way to greet someone in a wheelchair? How do you respond to challenging behavior? How much accommodation to disabilities is appropriate? Designed to inspire empathy and give practical tips, this seminar answers these and many other questions while presenting a close look at the life of people with disabilities.


Disability Awareness for Children and Teens

Young people encounter people with disabilities too, but they filter the experience in their own unique way. Whalen presents the insights from his Disability Awareness seminar in a way that resonates with children and teenagers.


Understanding Quality of Life

Designed specifically for direct support professionals and front line managers, the presentation recognizes the challenges caregivers face in providing services in today’s program models. This session will provide the audience with a clear and concise understanding of how to move forward in the best interests of the individuals they serve by providing them with current trends and topics, expectations of the disabled community, parent/sibling perspective, and collaboration with outside entities.

Read more: Understanding Quality of Life


Serving Seniors with Developmental Disabilities

The need to appropriately serve seniors with developmental disabilities has been described by some as being “in a state of crisis”. In order to support providers in preparing for this crisis Philadelphia Insurance Companies is proud to present this session intended to ensure that the seniors we serve age with dignity. Presenter David Whalen will use his unique mix of expertise to equip participants to respond to the many challenges and obstacles faced when attempting to address the needs of seniors with developmental disabilities.

Read more: Serving Seniors with Developmental Disabilities


Special Education, Disability Awareness, and the Law

School districts, their administrators, teachers, and support staff face many challenges when it comes to serving students with special needs. This presentation brings together disability law, legal issues related to special education and disability awareness training. The program is customized to meet the needs of individual school districts and answer the difficult questions they face.


Emergency Preparedness and Disability Awareness

phillyfireDesigned specifically for emergency managers, first responders, and fire departments, this training incorporates the latest initiatives, as identified by the federal government, in preparation for emergencies that will involve individuals with disabilities. It incorporates disability awareness relative to the situations that emergency personnel will confront.

Photo: Assistant Chief Joseph Picozzi of the Philadelphia Fire Department with David Whalen


Initiatives: The Path to Inclusion

Inclusion can mean many things to many people, but to individuals with disabilities it is the basic premise to everything. Imperative to service delivery is understanding what this means, not just it's definition, but what it entails and, most importantly, how to achieve it.

The obligation of service providers is to ensure inclusion is weaved into every aspect of program models.

This training will introduce and explain inclusion and its components, including employment, spirituality, education, service provision, person first approaches, community and municipalities introduction, and advocacy. It will include exercises that will promote personal and professional insight into how to achieve this within an agency as well as at home.


Teacher/Teacher Assistant Training


  1. Major purpose/theme of workshop: Disability awareness training has tailored a presentation for aides, teachers, and other support staff who have duties and responsibilities with students with special needs. It brings together education on disabilities while enhancing sensitivity. The presentation includes the history of disabilities, definitions, etiquette and interaction skills, the disabled perspective, challenging behaviors, and current trends and topics.
  2. How initiative relates directly to student needs and its impact on student achievement and character development: The success of a student with special needs is directly related to the teacher's awareness and understanding of the child and his or her disability. Essential to this is the ability of the educator to see the child beyond their disability. Attendees will be provided with an in-depth explanation of why society discriminates against individuals with disabilities. Essential to overcoming this is the school developing a confident, driven student that overcomes their obstacles and challenges. This is achieved when the educator is aware of the both the needs of the student and the supports available to them.
  3. Discuss the types of activities or teaching strategies that will be utilized: Accommodations, early signs/recognition of disabilities, utilization of the vast array of the network of supports, parent-professional collaboration, and the role of the school in working with service providers, vocations, municipalities, and the community.

Read more: Teacher/Teacher Assistant Training


Law Enforcement/Public Safety

Disability Awareness Training has a customized training session specific to law enforcement and public safety. Public service professionals encounter a high volume of situations whereby they come in contact with individuals with disabilities. This is especially true in law enforcement/public safety where situations can vary from high intensity (MICA individual) to very confusing (severe MR, CP with speech impairment). Recent statistics indicate that 50%-80% of encounters by officers involve an individual with a disability. In discussion with select local law enforcement personnel and the Criminal Justice department at Niagara University, appropriate training to the extent necessary to understand and properly address matters is not provided to officers.

Read more: Law Enforcement/Public Safety


Human Service Providers/Non-Profit Agencies

Disability Awareness Training (DAT) recognizes the many needs that agencies have in serving their clientele. DAT is here to help you achieve the highest level of success. Here's how:

Customized Training

DAT offers training designed to get the most out of personnel in your agency. Understanding Quality of Life is a training that provides staff with the necessary base to best serve individuals they care for.

Mr. Whalen has combined his 17 years of service in the field of developmental disabilities, his extensive networks and collaborative efforts with various entities, and his everyday role as a parent of a child with a disability to provide an in depth look at what it means to service individuals.

Read more: Human Service Providers/Non-Profit Agencies


Emergency Services and the Disabled Population

Emergency services encounter many challenges when responding to the needs of their community. This becomes even more challenging when the individual has a disability.

The attack on the World Trade Centers and Hurricane Katrina emphasized the need for emergency responders to be prepared to address the intricacies and complexities that face individuals with disabilities. This includes, but is not limited to, understanding the specific characteristics of the wide array of disabilities, agencies and entities that provide services to these individuals and how they operate, residential settings and their locations, adaptive equipment and assistive technology and the understanding of how it benefits the individual and how to allow it to assist in the response.

Read more: Emergency Services and the Disabled Population


School Bus Drivers and Monitors

  • Are your drivers trained in how to properly transport children with disabilities?
  • Are proper etiquette and interaction skills a part of everyday routine?
  • Does behavior pose a challenge to some of your personnel?

Disability Awareness Training will address all your needs while providing sensitivity training for drivers and monitors that transport children with special needs. This training will address all areas of appropriate interaction and responsiveness, teaching personnel why situations occur and how to handle them. It will incorporate the very essence of P J's law, while bringing out the compassion that is within.