5 Everyday Challenges Facing Individuals with Disabilities
- August 25, 2016
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Some will say that encountering hardships and difficulties are a part of life. While that’s true, individuals with physical disabilities going about their daily activities are often confronted with a variety of obstacles that are easier for able-bodied citizens to overcome. According to the World Health Organization (WHO) individuals with disabilities are impacted by transportation, physical, attitudinal, communication, and policy challenges.
Inadequate access to accessible transportation services interferes with the ability to travel independently from place to place. For someone with physical disabilities the simple process of hailing a cab is not so simple. They can’t just hop into the first available taxi. They need to wait until a wheelchair accessible taxi arrives if one is even available in their city. Also, accessible public transportation may be at inconvenient locations and distances creating a barrier to those who depend on it. To overcome this and other transportation challenges, many individuals with special needs are taking back their independence and acquiring a wheelchair conversion van with the adaptive equipment they need giving them the freedom to go wherever and whenever they desire.
There are also physical challenges that prevent access and block mobility, thereby, making it difficult for people with disabilities to move around. Physical barriers may be in the form of steps or curbs that make it difficult for someone with mobility impairment to access a building or cross the street. Impromptu construction or repairs, for example, that unexpectedly blocks a portion of a sidewalk makes it impossible for some people to go around without a safe wheelchair accessible route.
Another challenge that individuals with physical impairments face is attitudinal challenges. More than a few people are unaware that an individual with a physical disability may be prevented from participating in daily activities or socializing because of difficulties in mobility. Most of this occurs in the form of stereotyping where people may assume that those experiencing a disability have a poor quality of life or are unhealthy because of their impairments. Continuing to improve accessibility and mobility is paramount to overcoming attitudinal challenges that confront many individuals with special needs.
Individuals who have difficulty hearing, reading, speaking and/ or writing also face communication challenges. For instance, written health promotion materials that don’t have a large-print version or forget to include a Braille version for those who use screen readers make it difficult for many people to get the message. The use of long sentences, technical language, and words with many syllables can be a barrier to those with cognitive impairment. Many providers that provide important health, safety and other important information videos are now including video captioning. And government agencies delivering important safety messages often have an American Sign Language (ASL) interpreter for hearing impaired viewers.
There are policy challenges that, as a result of lack of awareness or enforcement of existing laws and regulations, which prevent physically impaired persons from participating in programs and activities. Also, there have been cases where an employer fails to provide reasonable accommodations making it difficult for a person with special needs to perform the duties they were hired to do. Sometimes persons with disabilities are denied the chance to access government benefits, programs or services due to physical and other barriers in getting to the location.
In 2013, Margareta Wahlstrom, the United Nations Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Disaster Risk Reduction, realized that persons with disabilities undergo a disproportionately high level of disaster-related injuries and even death. This is often due to the fact that their needs are neglected and in some cases forgotten. Today, government agencies are more responsive and are creating awareness to significantly reduce these challenges in society.