Race, gender, ethnic backgrounds, and income form the core of the subjects surrounding diversity and inclusivity. The one area that stands overlooked, despite being as noticeable as other differences, is the individuals having physical, mental, behavioral, and genetic challenges. In 2015, the population of these people in America was about 40 million, demonstrating 12.6% of the overall non-institutionalized adults.
The term disability covers activity limitation, participation restriction, and impairments. While impairment indicates functional and structural defects, activity limitation suggests hindrance in performing usual activities due to specific health conditions. And, participation restriction, on the other hand, means a person’s inability to involve in various life events owing to health challenges. In essence, a disability can refer to severe difficulty with vision, hearing, cognition, walking, climbing, and independent living or self-care.
In this context, let’s explore some critical aspects of Americans living with one or the other type of disability and global conditions too.
1Old vs. young population
One of the survey reports in 2015 showed that 50% of people aged 75 and more, and 25.4% of those aged 65 to 74 lived with disability. However, the rate of disability among younger generation ages 18 to 34 and 35 to 64 stood at 6% and 13%, respectively. The age group 35 to 64, nevertheless, represented nearly a population of 16 million disabled Americans.
2Race and ethnicity
The disability rate among Asians stood at 6.9%, Hispanics 8.8%, and American Indians or natives of Alaska, about 17.7%. Then, 13.9% of people with white skin and 14.1% with black skin tone reported some or the other type of disability.
3Common types of disabilities
One of the surveys also suggested that walking and independent living are the most common forms of disability among people. Over 20 million people (18 years and more) complained about climbing and walking difficulties. These people demonstrate 7.1% of the civilian and non-institutionalized adults. Besides, those who faced challenges with daily chores such as shopping and doctor visits owing to mental, emotion, or physical limitations formed a population of 14 million. After these, the issues with cognition, hearing, and vision come.
In 2016, about 23% of the disabled Americans reported not using the internet compared to a meager 8% of healthy people who didn’t use it. About 20% of the disabled population also showed the least interest in subscribing to broadband services, buying a desktop, tablet, or mobile phone. Plus, you can even notice a difference in internet usage behavior. Only 50% of people with a disability said they go online every day, which is significantly lower than those who have no disability and show internet dependence; you can assume that nearly 8 out of 10 people without limitation spend their time on the internet daily.
If you consider global data, the vast difference in the employability rate will be apparent in this case too. Only 53% of men and 20% of women with a disability get jobs compared to 65% of men and 30% of women without any disability. According to the reputable intergovernmental economic organization OECD, if taken an overall view of the situation, only 44% of people with disabilities had jobs compared to the population of non-disabled people, who represented a 75% employment rate.
Poverty is one of the other worst things that hit this population more than the other with the same income. Accessibility issues with water, sanitation, suitable housing, and food plague them. Plus, they have to bear additional expenses in the areas of medical help, assistive equipment, and personal support.
The lack of proper rehabilitation programs across the globe is another challenge. For instance, if you look at some studies, you will realize that medical rehab was accessible to only 25 to 26% of these people. And, things like wheelchairs, hearing devices, and prostheses reached only about 17 to 37% of them.
The studies also show a considerable gap in the area of healthcare services. 50% of the disabled population finds medical services unaffordable compared to one-third of non-disabled people. They either don’t get proper treatment or attention, which makes things more difficult for them.
More than one billion people, representing nearly 15% of the total global population, have a disability. Of them, almost 190 million people ages 18 and more face functional impairment. The increase in chronic ailments and the aging population can be the main reason behind the spike in the disability rate. However, there are certain things (if implemented) can bring a massive transformation in this scenario. These include:
- Disabled people should get easy access to mainstream services
- There should be special programs for these people
- A national plan needs to be there to address their concerns
- The research and data collection can become better
- People with disabilities should get a chance to contribute to the execution of policies and programs
- The public should get extensive awareness about disabilities issues and people living with one
If you take stock of this issue, you will realize that the problems are real, and there has to be adequate planning and efforts to address them so that the equation can become balanced. These people also need inclusion. They are not the object of empathy, but they deserve your attention and assistance. As an individual, you can change a world of things for them by just being a little responsible for your behavior and attitude towards them. Nowadays, you get access to a lot of resources for disability awareness. You can join them whenever possible to sensitize yourself and others around you on the subject. Also, understanding why it is necessary to stop discriminating against them and taking them for granted in certain situations.
Schools and workplaces need to host events from time-to-time so that everyone gets a sense of the difficulties these people face every day in their life and how others can make a difference. For example, taking small steps like not using elevators at public places or not assuming they need your help just because you feel so can be useful.