Disability in the United States

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Americans with disabilities are one of the largest minority groups in the United States. Although the US does not have universal healthcare, Americans with disabilities can generally find adequate levels of subsidized support from a variety of sources, generally at the regional level. While most rural areas — especially in the Great Plains region — have little or no government-organized medical support infrastructure for the permanently disabled indigent population, most major urban centers have healthcare systems. The rights of Americans with disabilities are protected by the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.

Demographics[edit]

According to the Disability Status: 2000 - Census 2000 Brief approximately 20% of Americans have one or more diagnosed psychological or physical disability:

Census 2000 counted 49.7 million people with some type of long lasting condition or disability. They represented 19.3 percent of the 257.2 million people who were aged 5 and older in the civilian non-institutionalized population -- or nearly one person in five..."[1]

This percentage varies depending on how disabilities are defined. According to Census Brief 97-5, "About 1 in 5 Americans have some kind of disability, and 1 in 10 have a severe disability."[2]

African Americans[edit]

According to the 2000 U.S. Census, the African American community has the highest rate of disability in the United States at 20.8 percent, slightly higher than the overall disability rate of 19.4%.[3] Given these statistics, it can be suggested that African Americans with disabilities experience the most severe underemployment, unemployment, and under education compared to other disability groups.[4]

Poverty[edit]

Investigations on the "poverty and disability nexus" [5][6][7][8] have consistently shown poverty and disability are correlated for all race-ethnic groups within the United States. Financial stability of people with disabilities would decrease the dependence on governmental support programs.[9][10][11][12] Studies have been done with the U.S. Census Bureau data to examine the high prevalence of disabilities among welfare recipients.[13] Thirteen percent of families with children under the age of 18, who are also receiving welfare benefits, had at least one child with a disability.[13] Families with income below twice the poverty line were 50% more likely to have a child with a disability than those families with higher incomes.[13] Children with disabilities from families with annual household incomes of higher than $50,000 were more likely to attend higher education.[14]

Research suggests higher education does impact employment and income opportunities for people with disabilities.[9][15][16][17] It is also noted near equivocal employment opportunities and salaries for people with disabilities to their peers without disabilities.[15][18] While only one-fifth of people in the United States have at least a four-year college degree, some studies note possessing a four-year degree is the difference between absolute job security and joblessness.[15][18]

Discrimination in employment[edit]

Further information: Employment discrimination

The US Rehabilitation Act of 1973 requires all organizations that receive government funding to provide accessibility programs and services. A more recent law, the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), which came into effect in 1992, prohibits private employers, state and local governments, employment agencies and labor unions from discriminating against qualified individuals with disabilities in job application procedures, hiring, firing, advancement, compensation, job training, or in the terms, conditions and privileges of employment. This includes organizations like retail businesses, movie theaters, and restaurants. They must make reasonable accommodation to people with different needs. Protection is extended to anyone with (A) a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more of the major life activities of an individual, (B) a record of such an impairment, or (C) being regarded as having such an impairment. The second and third criteria are seen as ensuring protection from unjust discrimination based on a perception of risk, just because someone has a record of impairment or appears to have a disability or illness (e.g. features which may be erroneously taken as signs of an illness). Employment protection laws make discrimination against qualified individuals with a disability illegal and may also require provision of reasonable accommodation.[19] Reasonable accommodations includes changes in the physical environment like making facilities more accessible but also include increasing job flexibility like job restructuring, part-time or modified work schedules or reassignment to vacant position. Though many hold attitudes that are more enlightened and informed than past years, the word “disability” carries few positive connotations for most employers. Negative attitudes by employers toward potential employees with disabilities can lead to misunderstanding and discrimination.[20]

Social Security Administration[edit]

The US Social Security Administration (SSA), defines disability in terms of an individual's inability to perform substantial gainful activity (SGA), by which it means “work paying minimum wage or better”. The agency pairs SGA with a list of medical conditions that qualify individuals for disability benefits.

The SSA makes available to disabled Americans two forms of disability benefits: Social Security Disability Insurance, (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Social Security pays disability benefits to citizens who have worked long enough and have a medical condition that has prevented them from working or is expected to prevent them from working for at least 12 months or end in death.[21]

Education[edit]

Before the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act was passed, children with disabilities were at-risk of not receiving a free, appropriate public education. For IDEA to apply, the child must first be determined to be able to benefit from public education. This benefit is not exclusively limited to school-aged children, but applies to children with disabilities from infancy.

Due to societal stigma of disability, children are sometimes treated like disabled children, and not included in activities in which other children were able to participate.[22]

Under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, the school district must provide every disabled child with an Individualized Education Plan (IEP). The IEP is compiled by a team of school administrators and guardians, and may include a child advocate, counselors, occupational therapists, or other specialists. This team evaluates the goals for the child and determines what needs to be done in order for those goals to be met.[23]

Transition preparation from K-12 education to post-secondary education or career was initially written into IDEA to begin at age 12, but in the existing law, transition preparation does not begin until age 16. While this law provides a maximum age at which to begin transition preparation, students with disabilities have been known to receive transition preparation at a younger age, as the states might mandate a younger age, or the IEP team might determine a younger age is appropriate to begin the transition preparation of the student.[24] Some students with disabilities have noted not receiving any transition preparation at all. The transition services are to be designed to be results-oriented rather than outcome-oriented. This is to ensure the transition services are designed for the student's success.[25] Students are intended to attend their transition planning meetings with the IEP, yet not all students do. Some do attend, yet generally not take a leadership role - only fourteen percent do.[26] This places the students with a disability in a passive role instead of an agentic role in their own life plans.[27] This leaves them without an understanding of their learning needs and unable to advocate for themselves.

Self-advocacy plays an important role in the success of students with disabilities in higher education.[18][28] While examination of self-advocacy skills has been largely limited to the impact in academic settings, self-advocacy skills, or the lack thereof, do also impact non-academic situations. A 2004 study noted only 3 percent of students with disabilities had self-advocacy training.[29]

Insurance[edit]

It is illegal for California insurers to refuse to provide car insurance to properly licensed drivers solely because they have a disability.[30] It is also illegal for them to refuse to provide car insurance "on the basis that the owner of the motor vehicle to be insured is blind,"[31] but they are allowed to exclude coverage for injuries and damages incurred while a blind unlicensed owner is actually operating the vehicle (the law is apparently structured to allow blind people to buy and insure cars which their friends, family, and caretakers can drive for them).[30]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Disability Status: 2000 - Census 2000 Brief (PDF) (Report). US Census Bureau. March 2003. 
  2. ^ Disabilities Affect One-Fifth of All Americans (PDF). Census Brief (Report). US Census Bureau. December 1997. 
  3. ^ Americans with Disabilities in 2002 (PDF). Population Profile of the United States: Dynamic Version (Report). U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved June 19, 2013. 
  4. ^ Alston, Reginald J.; Russo, Charles J.; Miles, Albert S. (1994). "Brown v. Board of Education and the American with Disabilities Act: Vistas of equal educational opportunities for African Americans". Journal of Negro Education. 63 (3). 
  5. ^ Siordia C & Ramos AK. (2015). Risk for Disability and Poverty amongst “Central Asians” in the United States. Central Asian Journal of Global Health, in-press.
  6. ^ Siordia C. (2015). Prevalence of Self-Care and Ambulatory Disability in Baby Boom and Generation-X Birth-Cohorts by Intersectional Markers of Social Stratification. Journal of Race and Social Problems, 10.1007/s12552-015-9155-4.
  7. ^ Siordia C. (2015). A Multilevel Analysis of Mobility Disability in the United States Population: Educational Advantage Diminishes as Race-Ethnicity Poverty Gap Increases. Journal of Studies in Social Science, 12(2): 198-219.
  8. ^ Siordia C & Ramos AK. (2015). Evidence of the “Hispanic Paradox” from the Poverty and Disability Nexus in the Latino Farmworker Population of the United States. Global Journal of Biology, Agriculture & Health Sciences, in-press.
  9. ^ a b Getzel, E.E.; Stodden, R.A.; Briel, L.W. (2001). Life beyond the classroom: Transition strategies for young people with disabilities. In P. Wehman (Ed.) Life beyond the classroom: Transition strategies for young people with disabilities: Baltimore: Paul H. Brookes. pp. 247–259. 
  10. ^ Collet-Klingenberg, L.L. (1998). "The reality of best practices in transition: A case study". Exceptional Children. 65 (1): 67–78. 
  11. ^ Janiga, S.J.; Costenbader, V. (2002). "The transition from high school to postsecondary education for students with learning disabilities: A survey of college service coordinators". Journal of Learning Disabilities. 35 (5): 462–468. 
  12. ^ Levinson, E.M.; Ohler, D.L. (1998). "Transition from high school to college for students with learning disabilities: Needs, assessment, and services". High School Journal. 82 (1): 62. 
  13. ^ a b c Lee, S.; Sills, M.; Oh, G. "Disabilities among children and mothers in low-income families (Research in Brief, IWPR Publication #D449)". Washington, DC: Institute for Women’s Policy Research. 
  14. ^ Wagner, M; Newman, L; Cameto, R; Garza, N; Levine, P. "After high school: A first look at the postschool experiences of youth with disabilities" (PDF). National Longitudinal Transition Study-2 (NLTS2). 
  15. ^ a b c Cheatham, G.A.; Elliott III, W. (2012). "The effects of college savings on postsecondary school enrollment rates of students with disabilities". Assets and Education Research Symposium. 
  16. ^ Cook, B.G.; Gerber, M.M.; Murphy, J. (2000). "Backlash against the inclusion of students with learning disabilities in higher education: Implications for transition from post-secondary environments to work". Work. 14 (1): 31–40. 
  17. ^ Grigal, M.; Hart, D.; Weir, C. (2012). "A survey of postsecondary educational programs for students with intellectual disabilities in the United States". Journal of Policy and Practice in Intellectual Disabilities. 9 (4). 
  18. ^ a b c Getzel, E.E.; Thoma, C.A (2008). "Experiences of college students with disabilities and the importance of self-determination in higher education settings". Career Development for Exceptional Individuals. 31 (2): 77–84. 
  19. ^ Burkhauser, Richard V.; Schmeiser, Maximilian D.; Weathers II, Robert R. (Jan 2012). "The Importance of Anti-Discrimination and Workers' Compensation Laws on the Provision of Workplace Accommodations Following the Onset of a Disability". Industrial & Labor Relations Review. 65 (1). doi:10.1177/001979391206500109. 
  20. ^ Darling, Peter (Aug 2007). "Disabilities and the Workplace". Business NH Magazine. 24 (8): 28. 
  21. ^ "Social Security - Disability Benefits" (PDF). Social Security Administration. May 2015. 
  22. ^ Mike Cole, ed. (2005). Education, equality and human rights : issues of gender, race, sexuality, disability and social class (2nd ed.). London: Taylor & Francis. ISBN 0-415-35660-1. 
  23. ^ Brizuela, Gabriela (2011). "Making an "IDEA" a Reality: Providing a Free and Appropriate Public Education for Children with Disabilities Under the Individuals with Dsabilities Education Act". Valparaiso University Law Review. 45. Retrieved 7 August 2015. 
  24. ^ Greatschools Staff. "IDEA 2004 Close Up: Transition Planning". greatschools.org. Retrieved 28 November 2016. 
  25. ^ Greatschools Staff. "IDEA 2004 Close Up: Transition Planning". greatschools.org. Retrieved 28 November 2016. 
  26. ^ Greatschools Staff. "IDEA 2004 Close Up: Transition Planning". greatschools.org. Retrieved 28 November 2016. 
  27. ^ Claiborne, Lise Bird; Cornforth, Sue; Gibson, Ava; Smith, Alexandra (2011). "Supporting students with impairments in higher education: social inclusion or cold comfort?". International Journal of Inclusive Education. 15 (5): 513–527. 
  28. ^ Wagner, M; Newman, L; Cameto, R; Garza, N; Levine, P. "After high school: A first look at the postschool experiences of youth with disabilities" (PDF). National Longitudinal Transition Study-2 (NLTS2). 
  29. ^ Cameto, Renee; Levine, Phyllis; Wagner, Mary. "Transition planning for students with disabilities" (PDF). National Longitudinal Transition Study 2. SRI International. Retrieved 28 November 2016. 
  30. ^ a b "California Code - Article 5: Motor Vehicle Liability Insurance". Codes.lp.findlaw.com. Retrieved 2015-08-07. 
  31. ^ "CAL. INS. CODE § 11628.7 : California Code - Section 11628.7". Codes.lp.findlaw.com. Retrieved 2015-08-07. 

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