CDC: 1 in 4 US adults live with a disability. Yes, 61 million Americans – have a disability that impacts major life activities. The most common disability type, mobility, affects 1 in 7 adults. With age, disability becomes more common, affecting about 2 in 5 adults age 65 and older. After mobility disability, the next most common disability type is cognition, followed by independent living, hearing, vision, and self-care.
The percentage of adults with disability increases as income decreases. In fact, mobility disability is nearly five times as common among middle-aged (45- to 64-year old) adults living below the poverty level compared to those whose income is twice the poverty level. At some point in their lives, most people will either have a disability or know someone who has a one. Learning more about people with disabilities in the United States can help us better understand and meet their health needs.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) protects these individuals by requiring employers to make “reasonable accommodations” to allow them to perform jobs that they’re qualified for. What is a reasonable accommodation?
In simple terms, it’s a change the employer can make to ensure that a qualified individual with a disability can perform the essential functions of the job and enjoy equal employment opportunities. These changes may involve:
- The application process
- The hiring process
- The job itself
- The way the job is done
- The work environment
The accommodations are considered “reasonable” if they don’t create “undue hardship” or a “direct threat” to the employer.
Examples of Reasonable Accommodations:
- Alternative Communication Formats
- Accessible Parking
- Service Animals
- Equipment or Work Environment Changes
- Job Reorganization
The Illinois Department of Human Services provides a helpful Guide to Interacting with People with Disabilities. Among their suggestions:
- Focus on People First – When you interact with people with disabilities, focus on their abilities, not their disabilities. People with disabilities are unique individuals who have a wealth of knowledge, skills, talents, interests, and experiences that add tremendous diversity, resourcefulness, and creative energy to our society.
- Practice the Golden Rule
- Always Ask Before Giving Assistance
- Avoid Showing Pity or Being Patronizing
- When you interact with people with disabilities, talk directly to them, not to their companions, aides, or interpreters
- Always use positive, people first language that empowers rather than marginalizes people with disabilities
Goodwill works to enhance people’s dignity and quality of life by strengthening their communities, eliminating their barriers to opportunity, and helping them reach their full potential through learning and the power of work. In 2019, Goodwill served more than 25 million individuals worldwide and helped more than 230,000 people train for careers in industries such as banking, IT and health care. Donate now.