Barriers faced by people with disabilities include everyday life problems, which can be overcome only with the support and help of appropriate organizations or commissions that can provide those people with preventive, rehabilitative, and assist services. A social aim of the government and responsible organizations should be an integration of disabled people into society and efface the boundaries on a way to the normal life. Every person with disabilities should have equal opportunities with other people and commute free between work, home, and other destinations.
Historical Aspects of Barriers for Disabled People
There are multiple barriers for people with disabilities, which prevent them from full participation in society. People with health problems have been fighting for their rights for many years. Disability is a complex phenomenon, which implies impairments, limitation of activities, and restriction of participative ability (Zampolini, Bernardinello & Tesio, 2007). A disability may be inborn or gained during life. The term is based on the reflection of the interaction between features of the person’s body and peculiarities of the environment, which surround the person with health problems (Schalock & Miguel, 2012). In the 1800s, people with disabilities were considered as tragic and pitiful individuals who were unable to contribute to society (Anti-Defamation League, 2005).
The marginalization of people with health problems continued until World War I. Franklin Delano Roosevelt became the first president with a disability, who strongly advocated the rehabilitation of disabled people (Adams, Bell, & Griffin, 2007). After World War II, veterans began to press the government to provide them with rehabilitation and vocational training (Anti-Defamation League, 2005). In 1960, a movement for civil rights began and minority groups started to gather to fight for the protection of their rights (Schlachter & Weber, 2013).
In the 1970ies, the Rehabilitation Act was put into action, which provided the disabled with the protection of the law (Anti-Defamation League, 2005). Several years later the Education for all Handicapped Children Act was introduced, which guaranteed equal access to public education for disabled youth (Koch & Moore, 2015). The passing of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) brought significant changes to the lives of the disabled and prohibited their discrimination.
Barriers for the People with Health Problems
Barriers to Accessibility
People with health issues face barriers every day. They can include physical obstacles in buildings or systemic barriers in employment. Many people consider barriers of accessibility to be only physical, as they can cause discomfort for the person with disabilities. However, there are many different types of barriers. The first type is the communications barrier, which is based on an inability of a disabled person to understand appropriate information. For example, some magazines or newspapers can have a small font and most websites are accessible only to the people who can use a mouse.
The second type is the technology barrier, which occurs when technology or construction cannot be modified to support different assistive devices (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2015). A bright example can be websites, which do not provide green-reading software. The last type is organizational barriers, which include procedures or policies that discriminate against the rights of disabled people base on their employment needs.
Often, the most difficult barrier is a special attitude to the disabled person. The most spread negative attitude is focused on the disabilities of the person more than on his/her individual abilities. Disabled people face various types of attitudinal barriers, which include inadequacy, unneeded empathy, hero-worship, disregard, spread effect, or even resentment. Inferiority is based on the conviction that disabled people are “second-class citizens”, who cannot perform work well (National Collaboration on Workforce and Disability, 2015).
However, often such people are skillful and responsible employees. Healthy people usually feel sorry for disabled people. However, they do not need charity, but only equal rights and support. Hero worship is reflected in worshiping the disabled person, who is self-serviced and can do without any external assistance. Ignorance is represented in the dismissal of disabled people who are incapable to accomplish a task. This fact should be unacceptable, because many people with quadriplegia can drive a car, and blind people can visit museums and tell time with the help of a watch.
The spread effect is reflected in the false idea that blind people can also have problems with hearing and that people, who use wheelchairs, cannot protect themselves. Backlash is based on people’s believes that individuals with disabilities have unfair advantages in the job and fewer work requirements. However, all employers need responsible workers, who can perform their responsibilities according to equal job standards. Besides, the Americans with Disabilities Act does not provide any special privileges to people with disabilities.
The Analysis of Macro and Meso Solutions to Barriers
The work with disabled people and prevention of barriers which they face is implemented through the macro, meso, and micro levels. A macro-level of barriers prevention is intervention provided on a large scale, which affects definite communities and systems of care. A meso level includes an intermediate scale and involves smaller groups such as neighbors and institutions. A micro-level is more common and is focused directly on the individual or his/her family. The help for the disabled person on the macro level includes the intervention of the large systems.
Examples of barriers to prevention on the macro level may include lobbying to charge a health care law or involving special organizations in solving the problem. In such cases, people can refer to the Americans with Disabilities Act or World Health Organization. Meso-level solutions to the problem appeal to the local organizations. For example, a person with a disability or his/her advisor can request the help of the Division of Disability Services (DDS) or the Division of Medical Assistance and Health Service (DMAHS), which can provide necessary information and services to the disabled person (World Health Organization, 2014).
Critical theory is also a very important aspect for understanding problems, which are faced by disabled people. It highlights necessary information for solving problems on macro and meso levels. The critical theory represents disabled people’s problems as a product of social inequality. Based on this theory, a problem dealing with special transport for people, who use wheelchairs, has to be solved on the meso level through money allocation from the local budget for purchasing special transport devices. The theory also highlights the fact that disability should not be an individual matter. The barriers faced by disabled people can be solved on the macro level through the investigation of the government and special worldwide organizations to identify the right solutions. For example, providing disabled people with education, jobs, and special treatment facilities are all essential steps.
The Role of the Human Service Providers
Disabled people almost every day face different barriers and discrimination. However, many organizations are operating as human service providers for the protection of the rights of disabled people. For example, the main aim of the World Health Organization (WHO) is to provide measures, which address the barriers experienced by disabled people. WHO collaborates with the United States Congress concerning the development and implementation of the policies and programs that would improve the access to healthcare. They promote political commitment related to the rights of the people with health problems. WHO also provides support in the forms of rehabilitation, healthcare services, and assistive technologies.
Nevertheless, there still exists a great problem of the lack of appropriate services in the rural areas, where disabled people rely on the legislation for their rights’ protection (Work Group for Community Health and Development, 2015). All disabled people should be acknowledged along with their rights. They also have to study the legislation thoroughly to avoid discrimination. The Americans with Disabilities Act is bolstering the rights of disabled people to access services on an equal basis with healthy individuals. ADA also represents the methods of accommodations, which have to be kept by different businesses. In March 2011, new effective regulations have been adopted (The White House, 2015). They include a guide for the disabled people who seek employment; access to medical care; mobility disabilities; hospitals for those with hearing and speech challenges; a guide for the blind or those with impaired vision, and the use of service animals (The White House, 2015).
There are also many commissions and organizations on the local level, which can help disabled people with any problems. For example, the Catastrophic Illness in Children Relief Fund (CRF) provides disabled people with financial assistance. The Commission for Blind and Visually Impaired (CBVI) provides rehabilitation and assistance to those who are visually impaired. The Division of Development Disabilities (DDD) provides services for people, who suffer from autism or intellectual disabilities by offering counseling and referral services.
Barriers faced by disabled people may take different forms and can be related to the physical environment, communications, technologies, legislation, and social attitudes. All types of barriers should be thoroughly studied by the government and responsible organizations to prevent and eliminate them. However, the reduction of barriers also strongly depends on the surrounding environment, as it should help people with health problems cope with the obstacles. People should not pity the disabled but support them. It is important to talk directly to the person with a disability, not to be shy to ask again in case of a misunderstanding, and to wait until an offer to help is accepted. Adherence to such tips will help a disabled person feel that he/she has equal rights and opportunities with a healthy individual.
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