First responders' perceptions of public safety instruction for individuals with intellectual disabilities

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It can be quite challenging for first responders to identify an individual with intellectual disabilities (ID). As a result, individuals with ID are often mistakenly perceived as suspicious when the behavior is related to their disability. This study addressed the questions of whether there were significant differences in first responders’ perceptions of public safety instruction for individuals with ID and whether ADA awareness predicted preparedness. Results from ANOVAs did show significant differences in first responders’ ratings. Additionally, linear regression results revealed that ADA awareness was a significant predictor of preparedness. Findings from this study could be used to advocate for educational and training programs which promote ADA awareness, confidence-building, and strategy. These programs could also guide first responders in developing culturally responsive practices for teaching individuals with ID of various cultural backgrounds that, in turn, could promote social change by ensuring that an at-risk population receives the same access to public safety instruction as those without disabilities. Limitations and implications for future research were also discussed.

Intellectual disability, First responders, Safety