Developed by Seabourne Consulting, experts in People with Disabilities

People with Disabilities


The phrase “people with disabilities” refers to diverse groups of people with physical, developmental, psychological, vision, hearing, and other disabilities. Not all disabilities are visible. According to the American Disabilities Act, a person with a disability is someone who has a physical or mental impairment that limits one or more major life activities, has a history or record of this type of impairment, and/or is perceived by others to have this type of impairment. Activism by the disabled people—including the Deaf and Hard of Hearing community, and the Autistic community—has expanded our understanding and definitions of disability beyond impairment. Disability is more accurately being redefined in terms of differences, required accommodations, personal lived experience, and identity. An important part of this shift, many disabled people have shifted toward using disability-first language (i.e. a disabled person, an Autistic person, a Deaf person), though person-first language is still preferred in some communities and in reference to some conditions (i.e. a person living with a mental health condition, a person with a TBI). In general, it is best practice to refer to a disabled person in the way they refer to themselves.


People with disabilities belong everywhere, and deserve equitable access to employment, education, housing, healthcare, and recreation. They have made immense contributions to all aspects of life and culture in the United States, despite being historically excluded from many of the fields they impacted. Today, 26% of adults in the U.S. (61 million people) live with a disability. The disabled community has made great strides in advancing accessibility and equity, but disabled people still face disproportionately negative health and mental health outcomes. Long histories of misunderstanding, abuse, lack of care, stigmatization, discrimination, and unequal rights have created deep inequities for people with disabilities. Disabled people are significantly more likely to live in poverty, experience trauma, face barriers to care, and struggle with suicidal ideation than their able-bodied peers. Disabled people who are living in poverty, located in rural communities, LGBTQ+, Black, Indigenous, and/or of color often struggle the most to thrive due to compounding marginalizations.


Disabled people—especially disabled people of color and LGBTQ+ disabled people—are working to push disability equity to the forefront of justice movements, where intersectionality with disability is often overlooked and accessibility is often an afterthought. Misunderstanding, stigma, and exclusion still inhibit progress in all aspects of disability equity, from education and employment, to housing, healthcare, mental healthcare, transportation, and recreation. People with disabilities that are considered rare, complex, and/or “difficult” to accommodate are often most misunderstood and excluded. People with invisible disabilities frequently struggle with both exclusion from able-bodied people and other disabled people, due to their disability and needs not being immediately obvious. Progress with accessibility and disability accommodations are often slowest in rural communities and communities with high rates of poverty. 


Partnering with disabled people to achieve health equity requires uprooting the ableist systems that perpetuate their exploitation, exclusion, and abuse. Institutionalizing and operationalizing accessibility and disability justice throughout all leadership levels of all sectors will require organizations, allies, and systems to deeply center and follow the leadership of disabled people. Justice and equity work must prioritize intersectionality, especially disabled people of color and LGBTQ+ disabled people. Allies should start by recognizing that disability is a complex, nuanced, deeply personal experience, and that change will require many diverse disabled voices. Community-led processes, self-representation, and centering the voices of people with disabilities—including invisible disabilities—are a few effective tactics communities can leverage to advance equity and well-being for disabled people. 


See also: accessibility, mental and behavioral health, neurodiversity, Autism, eating disorders, veterans, older adults


Resources & Tools


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Disability Healthcare Resources
Resource - Data Bank/repository
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Accessible Health Care
Resource - Guide/handbook
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LGBT People With Disabilities
Resource - Report
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The Best World Map for Accessibility
Resource - Journal Article
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Disparities in Suicide
Resource - Fact Sheet
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Deafness and Blindness Glossary of Terms
Resource - Website/webpage
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Intersections Between Racism and Ableism
Resource - Journal Article
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Living Well With a Disability
Resource - Journal Article
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Disability-Competent Care
Resource - Journal Article
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Innovative Models in Health and Housing
Resource
Brought to you by The California Endowment
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Disability and Health Inclusion Strategies
Resource - Website/webpage
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Types of Accessibility Aids
Resource - Website/webpage
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Healthy People 2030: People With Disabilities
Resource - Assessment/evaluation
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Disability Maps
Resource - Map
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Disability Statistics
Resource - Data Bank/repository
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Pathways to Partnership: Early Childhood
Resource - Guide/handbook
Brought to you by SchoolHouse Connection
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University Disability Inclusion Dashboard
Resource - Assessment/evaluation
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Active Design Supplement: Promoting Safety
Resource - Guide/handbook
Brought to you by Center for Active Design
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Neurodivergent Strengths
Resource - Website/webpage
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Disability Language Style Guide
Resource - Guide/handbook
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Disability-Inclusive Youth Programs
Resource - Website/webpage
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Disability Rights Timeline
Resource - Website/webpage
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The ADA at 30: Looking Back and Ahead
Resource - Journal Article
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A Guide to Disability Rights Laws
Resource - Guide/handbook
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Firearms and Suicide Prevention
Resource - Website/webpage
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What is Disability Justice?
Resource - Journal Article
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Fact Sheet: Disability Discrimination
Resource - Policy Brief
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5 Ways to Include Disability in Equity Work
Resource - Journal Article
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Health Equity for People with Disabilities
Resource - Journal Article
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Guide to the ADA Accessibility Standards
Resource - Guide/handbook
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Disability-Related Stress and Inaccessibility as Trauma
Story - Original
Brought to you by Community Commons
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Please Don’t Edit Me Out
Story - Written
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Creating More Accessible, Inclusive Buildings
Story - Written
Brought to you by CityLab
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Trends With Benefits
Story - Audio
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Telemental Health Provides Opportunity to Improve Population Mental Health
Story - Original
Brought to you by Community Commons
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Disability Statistics
Tool - Data/mapping Tool
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SNAP Disability Dashboard
Tool - Data/mapping Tool
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Disability Integration Toolkit
Tool - Toolkit/toolbox
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Neurodiversity Resources for Students
Tool - Toolkit/toolbox
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Vaccine Website Accessibility Dashboard
Tool - Data/mapping Tool
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Data & Metrics


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Accessibility and Disability Equity Library
Library
Published on 09/01/2022

 Related Topics


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Accessibility

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Brain Health

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Mental and Behavioral Health

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Mobility

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Autism

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Veterans