Living with a Disability

Living in today’s society with the diverse cultures and world controversy is a challenge in itself, but imagine living each day unable to carry out normal daily functions without a challenge. I chose to this topic because of my own personal ignorance. Three years ago the word disability would have been just another word. I would not have given another thought to seeing someone in a wheelchair, a walker or even one with a mental disability. Yes, I had compassion, but without the realization of what obstacles those with a disability truly face, that too is just another word.

This topic has a personal interest for me because working for the Paralyzed Veterans of America has truly changed my thinking and quality of life, as I see those with these challenges on a day-to-day basis. What is a disability? “An individual with a disability is a person who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities” (www. eeoc. gov/types/ada) 12/27/06.The figures on the total amount of disabled people in the world are vast; according to the World Health organization there are approximately an estimated 600 million people (en.wikipedia. org/wiki/Disability) 12/31/06.

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“In the United States alone, Americans with disabilities constitute the third-largest minority (after persons of Hispanic origin and African Americans); all three of those minority groups number in the 30-some millions in America” (en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Disability) 12/31/06. Those with a disability face many challenges throughout their lives. These challenges include but are not limited to: everyday functions, transportation, and accessibility.

The simple things for an able bodied person are not so simple for one with a disability.Take for example, a person in a wheelchair, as the multitude of disabilities are so diverse, that to try to touch points on each of these disabilities would be unfeasible. Waking up and jumping in the shower is not an option; it requires a special apparatus, such as shower bench to allow them the opportunity to provide self care. The shower head and nozzles must also be accessible. For those who are severely disabled a caregiver may be required. Transportation is also a major obstacle for those who are in a chair.

If the disabled are fortunate enough to have the ability to drive; adaptive driving equipment and vehicle modifications must be placed in the vehicle, such as a hand tool and or a chair lift. To travel by airline can prove to be an even bigger nightmare. One in a chair is the first to get on the flight and the last to get off. The airlines must be notified in advance so that special accommodations can be made, as the chair cannot accompany them on the flight.

Airlines recommend those in a chair do not have a layover or require transfer flights; this does not leave many options.In addition, accessibility is a major challenge for those with a disability. Public facilities challenge those with impairments. Lavatory doors must be wide and low enough for them to fit through, a ramp is required to access a building with stairs, drinking fountains and telephones must be low enough for the disabled to access. As one can see routine functions can be very trying for individuals who face disability. Resources for those who are disabled are endless; laws and rights have steadily improved. The Americans with Disabilities Act is most notorious for advocating rights for the disabled community.“The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which became law in July 1990, is the cornerstone of civil rights for people with disabilities.

The law guarantees full participation in American society for all people with disabilities, just as the Civil Rights Act of 1964 guaranteed the rights of all people regardless of race, sex, national origin or religion” (Maddox, 2006, g. 216). Americans with Disabilities Act protects and prohibits discrimination from employment, public services, public accommodations, transportation, and telecommunications (www. eeoc.

gov/types/ada) 12/27/06.Additional resources and agencies are available for the disabled community; with each agency focusing on the specific impairment or disease, such as the MS Society, United States International Council on Disabilities, iCan, the National Council on Independent Living, and Paralyzed Veterans of America. Each organization focuses on the specific disability and offers resources to help those with an impairment to lead a full and productive life. Taking these factors in to consideration, one can see the challenges those with a disability face daily.It takes human compassion to understand that this is not an easy feat to face.

Those with a disability are not freaks, different, or contagious, they are merely people trying to make the best of an unfortunate condition. It is important to put people first, educate themselves and get involved in the community. References: Maddox, S.

(2006). Paralysis Resource Guide. New Jersey: Christopher Reeve Foundation. The Americans with Disability Act (12/20/06) Retrieved from (http://www. eeoc. gov/ada) on 12/20/06. Wikipedia® Disability (12/31/2006) Retrieved from (http://www. en.

wikipedia. org/wik/disability) on 12/31/06.