To enhance their living conditions, there are many disabled people living in society who need special care and privileges. The number of people with disabilities in the USA as of 2010 was over 56 million, with most of them having serious disabilities. Looking at the trend within the communities, as age progressed, there were more people with disabilities, and the disabled females exceeded the males. Blacks had a large population among the analysed group than the whites. However, the federal government and within the respective states have several laws and initiatives that focus on improving equality, participation, employment, and the living conditions of these people. These include IDEA, ADA, the Recovery Act, the Housing Facilities Act and the Telephone Act and their modifications, the Accessible and Closed Entitlement Systems for Disability Care and Compensation, and the Federal and State Grant Programs. This paper addresses these individuals in American society and also addresses the 2020 goals of promoting healthier people in the disability community and the various positions of nurses in supporting this disadvantaged category.
Keywords: Disability, Nurses, Statistics, Policies, Americans with Disability Act (ADA), Barriers to Healthcare, Public Health, Age
In the global society, there are a variety more individuals with disabilities than we might possibly believe. Although some can speak out and appear in the public for themselves, some are left in homecare and centres. Disabilities vary; they can be lifelong or transient and can effect various aspects and functions of the body. According to the US federal government, impairment is described as “a mental or physical disability that significantly limits one or more major life activities,” varying from neurological to psychiatric disabilities and more unlisted circumstances (Wisconsin Department of Health services, 2013).
Federal and States Policies on Disability
Since the last century, the government has made attempts to eradicate the hurdles in society that hinder the impaired from enjoying their privileges as the rest of the population. Employers, learning facilities and most organisations must respect public policy in these new days and create resources for this community. Over the last century, regulations have been implemented and modified over time to enable society to enhance the living standards of the impaired. The Equal Housing Act of 1968 and its 1988 extension encourage all residents to enter housing without prejudice, guarantees that people with disabilities are free to rent or purchase a home, and allows owners of housing facilities to build disabled housing units with their policy exclusions in mind (U.S. Department of justice, 2009).
The updated 1996 Telecommunications Act aims to guarantee that connectivity to accessible infrastructure and service is open to the disabled community. This could include specific instruments with features to enable their working. Students with disabilities are often facilitated by proper schooling in an atmosphere that fits their unique needs. The Autism Education Act (IDEA) offers free appropriate public education for people with disabilities and mandates the public school system to implement a recommended protocol in the creation of an individualised education programme (IEP) for each child (U.S. Department of justice, 2009). The main two civil rights laws that are of particular importance in contemporary culture are the ADA and the Restoration Act. The 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) “prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in employment, public services, public accommodation, and telecommunications” and “prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in federal aid recipients” (“Federal Disability Policy Framework” n.d., p. 5). Others are grant and entitlement systems which in the respective states have insurance or other benefits.
The 2020 objectives of a healthy disabled people consist of twenty well distributed policies and procedures aim at increasing participation in the public health activities, everyday life activities, free interaction with their environment, and ensuring they receive well timed interventions and services (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2013). It seeks to identify more people with disabilities, increase the group’s health promotion programmes and public health surveillance, increase public health professionals to deal with disabilities and health, eliminate health barriers, increase employment opportunities for people with disabilities, and generally work to reduce the number of people with disabilities and other complaints.
The Role of Nurses in the Disabled Population
Nurses are trained to provide various groups with healthcare, including sick and disabled people of various ages, families, groups, etc. Depending on their training, nurses cover a wide range of tasks in home care for people with disabilities and in hospitals. Some are interested in helping the affected travel, bathe, eat, and access, including the prescription medications they take, the nutrition they require. There are developmental disability nurses, who assist patients with developmental or mental disabilities (e.g. autism and Down’s syndrome), and educate their families on how to handle such a patient under home care. Learning disability nurses support patients with learning disabilities to cope up independently with their day to day life, such that they can be integrated with their local society and activities. Nurses can also identify symptoms in a patient’s health for medical attention and drug prescription from the doctors, in order to improve prevention of a disease or condition that may attack them.
National and Community Statistics and Comparison
Disability in USA continues to increase as the population ages and more chronic disease attacks increase. Some people are born with disabilities, but majority of them become disabled through accidents and sicknesses in life. As of 2010, 56.7 million people in USA were disabled, 38.3 million were severely disabled, and the total number of disabled people had increased by 2.2 million from 2005 (Brault, 2012). Apparently, the number of disabled people increased with age, and the female were the majority compared to the male population of the disabled people. In the community level, the blacks were the majority followed by the whites, and then the Hispaniacs/Latinos and Asian in that order (Brault, 2012). (See figure 1 and table 1).
Figure 1. Illustration of Disability Prevalence in the U.S Population. Adapted from “Americans with Disabilities: 2010 Household Economic Studies,” by Brault, 2012, p. 6. Copyright 2012 by U. S Census Bureau. Adapted with permission.
Note. A record of disability distribution among the US communities of both age adjusted and unadjusted rates. “Americans with Disabilities: 2010 Household Economic Studies,” by Brault (2012), p. 6. Copyright 2012 by U. S Census Bureau. Adapted with permission.
- Brault, M.W. (2012, July).Americans with Disabilities: 2010 Household Economic Studies. Retrieved from http://www.census.gov/prod/2012pubs/p70-131.pdf
- Federal Disability Policy Framework: Our Nation’s Goals for People with Disabilities. (n.d.).Retrieved from http://www.disability.law.uiowa.edu/lhpdc/rrtc/documents/…/Fed_pol_frame.doc
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2013, April 10). Disability and Health. Retrieved from http://healthypeople.gov/2020/topicsobjectives2020/overview.aspx?topicid=9
- U.S. Department of Justice. (2009, July). A Guide to Disability Rights Law. Retrieved from http://www.ada.gov/cguide.htm
- Wisconsin Department of Health Services. (2013). How Does ADA Define Disability. Retrieved from http://www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/disabilities/physical/definition.htm