4 Reasons You Know More People with Disabilities than You Think
In the Chicago area, more than 800,000 residents report having a disability. That means you could fill Wrigley Field over 19 times with people with disabilities.
People with disabilities are all around us. In fact, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, one in four Americans have some type of disability. Additionally, more than 46 percent of people over age 60 have a disability; thus, as Baby Boomers continue to age, disability has become one of the fastest growing segments of the population. Yet many don’t realize they encounter people with disabilities on a daily basis. While often associated with visible conditions, many disabilities, such as mental health conditions, like depression or anxiety; intellectual disabilities; and chronic conditions are invisible.
People with disabilities are our doctors, teachers, lawyers, parents, friends and family. If you identify with any of the following statements, you likely know more people with disabilities than you think:
I go to school: In Chicago Public Schools, there are 57,000 students with disabilities. This doesn’t include college and university students. If you are a student, this means some of your classmates are people with disabilities. For teachers and administrators, students with disabilities must be taken into account.
I am a caregiver: Research proves that prevalence of disability increases with age. In fact, more than 46 percent of people over age 65 have disabilities. With aging, and the fact that anyone can become disabled at various stages in life, many people become caregivers to family members and other loved ones. If you are a caregiver, you likely know people with disabilities.
I have a job: While employment rates for working age people with disabilities around the country are significantly lower than those of people without disabilities, people with disabilities still make up a large portion of today’s workforce. Many disabilities are invisible, so you may not know that your coworkers, supervisors, and clients are people with disabilities. If you have a job, you likely know people with disabilities.
I am a business owner and patron of businesses: With over $490 billion in spending power, people with disabilities are both patrons of businesses and business owners. No matter whether it’s your favorite coffee shop, a consulting firm, or a local art gallery, people with disabilities are often recognized for their innovation and creativity. If you are a business owner or a patron of businesses, large or small, you likely know people with disabilities.
This year, we celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, the landmark law that affirms the idea that disability is a natural part of the human experience and that people with disabilities have the right to full participation in society. Undoubtedly, you have worked with, laughed with, and/or gone to school with people with disabilities. Now, more than ever, it’s important for more people to understand and commit to supporting disability inclusion.