Living with Disability
Disability Service and Self-help Center
Millions of people around the world are living with disability in their lives each day. They somehow manage to do many common daily activities with only a few changes in how they do these things. Both children and adults are affected by disabilities that range from physical disabilities which include blindness or vision impairment, hearing impairments, chronic and severe health problems to mental disabilities, including depression, autism, and others.
The U.S. Government employs many disabled workers – over 200,000 people equaling seven percent of all federal employees. The Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) requires all government agencies to hire qualified disabled workers to fulfill agency diversity goals. The Federal Government employs workers with mental retardation, with severe physical disabilities, and those who have recovered from mental illnesses. In addition, every state has a Vocational Rehabilitation Department that provides training for those with disabilities, including computer training to make finding employment an easier task.
Living With DisabilityAdults with disabilities who are searching for employment may approach the Bureau of Rehabilitation for help in their efforts. Disabilities from birth as well as those from accidents, strokes, and other events may require rehabilitative measures. Some of the services that they provide to help disabled persons are fitting work chairs and complete work stations to the comfort of the person. If someone cannot use their hands, the Bureau of Rehabilitation will often provide alternate means for them, such as communication boards so that the person can press a button to communicate.
Disabled adults may also work at home from a specialized chair and computer, if a physical disability prevents them from commuting daily to an office building. The advancement of technology and of the Internet in particular, have made it possible for many disabled persons to work from home who were not able to do so before. There are federal and state funds available for making work sites more available to the disabled – both in their homes and in work places.
Many private employers also seek disabled employees to hire for various positions. Those with mental retardation can be trained as grocery store baggers, greeters, and stockers, while other individuals with physical limitations can work in offices using computer software as accountants or other office workers. Some disabled individuals are allowed to have their interpreter (often in sign language) or aide accompany them to work in certain conditions. This person acts as the connection between the worker and employer.
Children in the U.S. who suffer from any type of disability, including autism, receive excellent educational services, beginning at the preschool level. Physical and psychological evaluations are usually the first step in this process so that children can be placed in programs that will best suit their needs. Once a child is in elementary school, the educational goal is to include the student in the regular classroom whenever possible by equipping the classroom for special needs. This policy, called Inclusion, enables a child with a disability to receive the same educational opportunities as all other children, rather than being in a class of students who are all disabled and have special needs.
Students with limited learning abilities are encouraged to succeed at meeting their goals within the realm of their capabilities. For example, students who are mildly mentally retarded are able to learn life skills for independent living. They are also taught how to perform job tasks that will prepare them for employment. With supportive and helpful educational programs, these individuals are able to live their lives normally, or almost normally.
Many students with physical disabilities have very high capacities to succeed academically, so they are assisted in any way that will help them meet the goals in academic excellence that teachers and parents set for them.