We Are All People With Ability
March 6, 2015
Ronald Reagan declared
the month of March as National Disabilities Awareness Month. It serves as a formal time to recognize the efforts, struggles, and initiatives surrounding people with disabilities. In 1990, the
Americans with Disabilities Act
was passed, thus officially giving legal rights to those with disabilities regarding workplace discrimination.
According to The Arc, whose
is to protect the rights of human beings with intellectual and developmental disabilities, at least
4.6 million Americans
have a disability. The Arc
in many ways for those with disabilities, including shaping public policy, providing services like employment programs and residential support, and preserving and protecting rights through education and activism.
is a nonprofit organization in Malden, Massachusetts, that “empowers people with disabilities to enjoy rich, fulfilling lives.” Together with the
Accessible Icon Project
, they are working to transform the original
International Symbol of Access
into something more visually representative of today’s individuals with disabilities. The new image conjures up words like “active, abled, engaged, ready for action, determined, and motivated…which helps provoke discussion on how we view disabilities and people with disabilities in our culture.” (Read more on the
section of the Accessible Icon Project Web site.)
Follow these suggestions or add your own to raise awareness for those with disabilities:
your profile picture on Facebook, and post a status on social media (i.e., Facebook, Twitter) like, “I support and celebrate people with disabilities, and you should too!”
Volunteer or donate to the cause in your area. Use the
Network for Good
as a starting place.
to advocate for public policy to assist people with disabilities.
Support businesses that employ people with disabilities.
Take time to
and others about the needs of people with disabilities in your area.
Make sure that your own
words and actions
are respectful of those with disabilities.
Get involved in community-based activities that raise awareness in your
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People Living Longer, But With More Disabilities
Although overall life expectancy in the U.S. has increased from 75 years to 78 years in the past decade, information from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington in Seattle has found that Americans are spending more of their lifetime dealing with disability. According to the research, Americans are now spending an average of 10.1 years living with a disability, up from 9.4 years reported before 1990. Of the top five disabilities, two are mental health diagnoses – major depressive disorder (ranked No. 2) and anxiety disorders (ranked No. 5). These rankings have not changed from the 1990 report. The researchers hope that this report can help focus on which diseases, injuries, and health problems are the greatest losses of health and life, with the hope of using that information to better serve these problems with improved health and medical care. More information about this study is available in the July 10 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.
Vulnerability to Depression: Can It Be Contagious?
Researchers have found that college roommates of students who demonstrate vulnerability to depression are more likely to develop that vulnerability themselves over time. The research, conducted by psychologists Gerald Haeffel and Jennifer Hames of the University of Notre Dame, was published in the April issue of Clinical Psychological Science. Haeffel and Hames examined “cognitive vulnerability,” which they call “a potent risk factor for depression.” Those with cognitive vulnerability tend to interpret stressful life events as the result of factors over which they have no control; they see these events as a reflection of their own deficiencies. Cognitive vulnerability is normally quite stable in adulthood; however, the researchers wanted to examine whether it might be “contagious” during periods of major life transitions—like starting college. The research involved 103 randomly assigned roommate pairs who had started college as freshmen. When they arrived on campus, the participants completed an online questionnaire that included measures of cognitive vulnerability and depressive symptoms; they completed the same survey twice more, at 3-month and 6-month intervals, when they also answered questions about stressful life events. The results showed that ...
Individuals with Disabilities 286% More Likely to be a Victim of Violence
Adults with disabilities, particularly mental illness, have been found to be at an increased risk of being a victim of violence, according to a study funded by the World Health Organization’s Department of Violence and Injury Prevention and Disability. This finding, a meta-analysis of 21 studies, found that one in four people with a mental illness experience some type of violence in a given year – a much higher rate than that experienced by the general population. The chance that a person with a mental illness will experience physical, sexual, or domestic violence was found to be 3.86-fold higher than the odds of an adult without any disabilities at all. However, violence against individuals with other disabilities was common – it was found that individuals reporting any disability were 50 percent more likely to experience physical, sexual, or intimate partner violence in the prior 12 months than those individuals without a disability, and 60 percent higher for people with intellectual impairments. Researchers believe that their inclusion criteria probably underestimated the prevalence of violence against people with disabilities because many of the ...
Life with Bipolar Disorder through the Eyes of Dr. Mark Vonnegut
“The reason creativity and craziness go together is that if you’re just plain crazy without being able to sing or dance or write good poems, no one is going to want to have babies with you. Your genes will fall by the wayside. Who but a brazen crazy person would go one-on-one with blank paper or canvas armed with nothing but ideas?” Author Mark Vonnegut poses this question in the first chapter of his book, Just Like Someone Without Mental Illness Only More So. In this intimate and sometimes comic memoir, Vonnegut goes one-on-one with his past and present struggles with bipolar disorder, his family history, and his qualms with the medical field. His medical background and first-hand experiences provide readers with an eye-opening portrayal of life with mental illness. In order to understand his own disorder, Vonnegut looks at his family’s history as far back as his paternal great-grandfather. He ventures into his childhood, endearingly poking fun at his not-yet-famous father’s eccentricities and struggles as “the world’s worst car salesman who couldn’t get a job teaching English at Cape Cod ...
Brain-Based Assessment: An Interview with Steven G. Feifer (Part 2)
We recently sat down with Steven G. Feifer, DEd, author of the Feifer Assessment of Reading™ (FAR™) and Feifer Assessment of Mathematics™ (FAM™) for an interview to discuss how to use cognitive neuroscience to better understand why students struggle in school. This is the second part of a two-part interview. Did you miss Part 1? Catch up here. How do the FAR and FAM go beyond just using an aptitude/achievement discrepancy perspective? SF: The FAR and FAM represent a more ecologically valid way to understand the core psychological processes involved with both reading and mathematics. Many psychologists are used to measuring executive functioning, working memory, visual perception, and processing speed using stand-alone instruments, and then must clinically bridge these results into the worlds of reading and math. In other words, how does poor performance on executive functioning tasks impact the ability to read on grade level? These can be very difficult questions to answer. The FAR and the FAM seek to measure these psychological constructs while the student is actually engaged in the academic skill itself, allowing the examiner to directly determine ...
Unemployment Rises Among Those with Serious Mental Health Problems
According to a new report from the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), adults with serious mental health problems face an 80 percent unemployment rate, a rate that continues to become more dire over time. In 2003, 23 percent of those receiving public mental health services had jobs; by 2012, only 17.8 percent did. The survey reports that most adults with mental illness want to work, and 60 percent can be successful if they have the right support. However, only 1.7 percent of those surveyed received supportive employment services. Study author Sita Diehl says the employment problem has less to do with the workers themselves and more to do with the lack of organizations providing supportive services for individuals with serious mental illnesses. Due to decreases in funding, services have not been as available. On a related note, people with mental illnesses are now the largest and fastest-growing group to receive Supplemental Social Security Income and Social Security Disability Income. Unemployment rates varied greatly by state, with 92.6 percent of those receiving public mental health services in Maine being without jobs to 56 ...
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