According the the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Disability affects approximate 61 million, or nearly 1 in 4 (26%) people in the United States living in communities. Disability affects more than one billion people worldwide.1,2 According to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, people “. . . with disabilities include those who have long-term physical, mental, intellectual or sensory [such as hearing or vision] impairments which in interaction with various barriers may hinder their full and effective participation in society on an equal basis with others.”
While the road has made great strives in community integration, we still have a long way to go until full inclusion is met worldwide. For some people with disabilities, participation may be only defined as being physically present in a community but without any connection such as going to a shopping store or attending an event. The next level includes encounters at a nail salon, bowling, shopping, etc and full integration includes connecting with others in the community such as hanging out with people at a sports bar with and without disabilities or attending religious services including becoming a part of the choir or serving as an usher.
The following questions created by the Council on Quality and Leaderships serves as a great barometer in measuring the quality of community inclusion:
Who do you know in your community?
Who do you spend most of your time with?
When you go places, who do you meet with?
What kind of interactions do you have with people?
What kinds of things do you do with other people?
The following are articles on the importance of community inclusion among individuals with disabilities and the definition:
National Barrier Awareness Day brings awareness to dissolving stigma’s that keep people with disabilities from advancing in education, barriers in physical access, bridging technology gaps and any type of barriers that prevent people with disabilities to reach their full potential. While there have been many achievements, financial, cultural education and physical barriers still exist.
The History of National Barrier Awareness Day
On May 7 1986, President Ronald Reagan signed Proclamation 5472 as National Barrier Awareness Day. President Reagan stated that “Eighty percent of Americans will experience some disability in their lifetime that makes it necessary they must surmount and the contributions that they can make to our society.”
Ways to Remove Barriers
While there are still physical barriers that exists, there is very few information on the mental barriers, meaning people that still hold misconceptions, stereotypes and myths regarding individuals with disabilities. what do I mean by mental barriers?
people that are unaware that most disabilities are invisible. Someone parking in a handicapped space might not have a physical disabilities, but could suffer from a debilitating pain. There are also people with cognitive disabilities including, Autism, ADHD, and Dyslexia.
As professionals, myths, and misconceptions continue when we as professionals stop learning and growing. Disabilities change overtime and as professionals and educators it is important to always learn and grow. For examples, very little was known about autism 25 years ago and more so when it comes to co-occurring disorders such as sensory processing disorder (SPD) and Dysgraphia.
It is time to see the abilities not the disabilities in the person. By focusing on the disabilities, we limit the growth and development which leads to self-confidence to those with disabilities.
Finally, we all have to take the role of advocates. It comes as part of the job. Sometimes it is advocating for both parent and child and using our voice to help others live quality lives.
When an individual with a developmental disability becomes an adult, Guardianship is something you should consider. In many States, the law will see the individual as an adult able to make decisions on their own. If you have a child with a disability who many never have the ability to make legal decisions on their own, the following information are links on guardianship and what you need to know about them.
The special education and IEP process can be stressful and confusing. Many parents turn to a special needs advocate to guide them as they seek services for their child. But how can you find the right advocate?
Unlike attorneys, anyone can call themselves a special education advocate. And while there are training programs for advocates, there’s no formal licensing or certification. That’s why it’s important to do your research before hiring someone. Click here to read the rest of the story