Millions of Americans have a form of disability: many more become disabled every year. It is important to understand disabilities and how they impact lives. For individuals who have a disability, access to information is essential for living at your fullest potential. For individuals who are not disabled, it is significant to learn about disabled lifestyles. Education and knowledge will enrich your interactions and relationships with those who are. There are numerous types of disabilities, including sight, hearing, mobility, and cognition impairments.
- Visual Impairments- An individual can have sight challenges such as color blindness, low/partial vision, or complete blindness. If an eye condition cannot be corrected with proper eye wear and requires special assistance then it is a visual impairment.
When learning about visual impairments there are several questions you might ask o gather awareness. Causes, prevention, adapting, and coping are useful to explore. Vision Impairment and Blindness is a MedlinePlus page that acts as a resource for finding this information. It provides a basic overview from the anatomy/physiology of the eye and vision loss, to specific conditions and issues that you or a loved one might be concerned about.
People experiencing vision loss frequently have personal questions and concerns that arise. Curiosity about everyday living and specific ways in which life will change is a normal occurrence. Ramona Walhof’s article, New Approaches To Consider: Suggestions For Individuals With Recent Vision Loss presented by The NFB, addresses and encourages these areas. The scenarios she describes in detail are helpful for the adapting process.
For senior citizens, losing the vision they have always known can be very difficult. The American Foundation for the Blind has a website, VisionAware, with many resources for independent living with vision loss and includes a special section for seniors.
- Hearing Impairments- If an individual experiences loss or deafness in either one or both of their ears, then they have a hearing impairment. Issues with hearing impairments can be mild or severe and require a range of treatments.
Not having the ability to hear, or losing the ability, is a life altering state often strenuous for many. Having solid knowledge of hearing and its deterioration helps transition forward to managing and coping with it. A nice start is to thoroughly comprehend the ear and how it works. The MedlinePlus page Hearing Disorders and Deafness offers information on the anatomy/physiology of the ear and what causes hearing loss. Our ears are intricate, creating a lot of room for possible damage to occur. An ehealthMD article, Different Types of Hearing Loss, elaborates on these possibilities. Five main types of hearing disorders and their causes are discussed.
It is essential that children with hearing loss have the resources they need to develop properly. For information regarding children experiencing Deafness and Hearing Loss, the National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities has made an article available to the public.
Adults encountering hearing loss have several concerns during such a transitional period. Hearing Loss and Older Adultsis a page created by the NIDCD. This page has a survey available in order for adults to check for hearing loss. The survey is accompanied by common questions and answers that help people understand this condition.
- Mobility Impairments- Mobility impairment exists if a person does not have enough strength, speed, or endurance to properly use their limbs for mobility. An individual with a mobility impairment cannot move or transport their self without equipment or assistance from another person.
Mobility impairments vary greatly in type and degree depending on a person's particular condition. MedlinePlus has information on Movement Disorders. Symptoms, diagnosis, conditions, treatment, and management are some of the areas covered.
The Nobody Left Behind website has disaster preparedness resources for individuals with mobility impairments. There are resources for issues such as emergency management, response, and disaster relief.
- Cognitive Impairments- Cognition controls everything from creating and formulating to reasoning and remembering. Cognitive impairments make it difficult and sometimes impossible for people carry out these mental processes. Some impairments are present at birth but they are often the result of an accident or illness.
A nice introduction to Cognitive Disabilities is given by WebAIM where you can find a more detailed description about impairments and what they affect. Being that the brain is the most complex part of the body, it can be affected in infinite ways. MedlinePlus has an abundance of information regarding problems and disorders affecting the Brain and Nerves, including an A-Z index on the different brain disorders and their effects.
Brain dysfunction after an illness or accident can be extremely traumatizing. For parents of children who have experienced TBI, traumatic brain injury, Brainline has a host of useful articles. Cognitive Rehabilitation for Children and Youth is one article that helps individuals learn how to guide a child through this experience.
Adults with cognitive impairments need care and assistance as well. Caring for Adults With Cognitive and Memory Impairments, by the Family Caregiver Alliance, gives ten steps to help caregivers work with adults. Also, looking after others can be a tiring process, so the article touches on how to avoid burnout as a caregiver.
Along with the additional challenges, people who have disabilities face all of the same mental health risks as those who are not disabled. For more general information, our glossary has an A-Z index regarding mental health issues.
The American Red Cross has a safety guide for disasters and people with disabilities. Their safety guide covers general information on several important areas.
Americans with Disabilities Act homepage has numerous important resources for people with disabilities. Concerns regarding legal rights, enforcement, accessibility and more can be answered here.
The Disability Help Site offers assistive information for common areas of struggle that can cause distress. In their mission statement they state; “The disABLED have many needs which challenge their lives. People with disabilities face financial needs, mobility issues, lack of quailty housing, as well as struggling with prescription medicine costs. There is help available."
The National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities has information specifically regarding babies and young children. If you have concerns about the mental health of a child, NICHCY has helpful resources