Commentary: Prevalence of People with Disabilities

New research gives us a better glimpse of where people with disabilities live in the United States. A recent article from The Washington Post highlights a study which shows that the South has the highest population of adults with varying types of disabilities. The 25th anniversary of the ADA reminds us that many accessibility barriers have been removed, if not eliminated completely in many parts of the United States. As a result, people with disabilities can live more independent lives.

I am extremely fortunate to live in a city where the public transportation is very accessible to people with disabilities. It sure is nice to have the option of deciding how I want to get where I need to be — whether taking a train, a cab or the bus. Things like audible announcements on trains and buses allow me to use public transportation independently and confidently because I know I will be able to get on and off wherever I wish. Braille signs on elevators and on room doors help me know if I’m at the right location when I go to new buildings.

Technology has also opened many doors for people with disabilities, but not all of it is accessible. I am glad that my nearest ATM “talks” to me via a headset when I’m doing a transaction, but this technology needs to expand to other devices. While touch-screen kiosks are nice because they allow passengers to print their boarding passes at the airport, I still cannot utilize them independently.

Unfortunately, little – if any – research has been done concerning accessibility and available resources for people with disabilities in different regions of the country. This kind of research has a strong potential for improving the services and quality of life of people with disabilities throughout the United States.

What accessibility, resources or other disability specific services are available where you live? If you have a disability, do you find them helpful and adequate? Are they better or worse compared to those in the places where you may have lived previously? Please comment! Thanks for reading, and you can send any questions or topic suggestions to sandysview@chicagolighthouse.org.

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