Everyone encounters difficulties in life at some point. However, the challenges adults
with disabilities face can affect life daily. Unfortunately, our world is not designed to
accommodate people with different abilities or needs. However, one in four adults in the
US, or 61 million Americans, live with a disability, according to the Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention (CDC). To put that in perspective, that’s slightly more than the
entire population of Italy.
The statistics are essential to help us understand the volume of people affected;
however, people with disabilities are more than statistics. Nor should they be defined as
their disabilities. They are people with hopes and dreams who want to live fulfilling lives.
Common Challenges for Adults With Disabilities
The challenges people with disabilities face vary, depending on the type and severity of
the disability. Disabilities range from mobility issues to cognitive impairment. However,
the most common challenges that individuals with disabilities face include:
Stigma, stereotyping, discrimination, and prejudice affect how a person with a
disability can participate in everyday life.
● Physical Accessibility
Barriers or structures that prevent or block mobility and access limit a person’s
ability to get around. A few examples include the lack of a wheelchair ramp,
elevator, or medical equipment that requires a person with a physical disability to
stand up to use it.
Communication barriers for people with a disability — anything affecting reading,
writing, hearing, speaking, and understanding — can prevent someone with a
disability from comprehending a message. For example, a lack of large print for
people with low vision or videos without closed captioning.
● Social Barriers
Where a person grows up, learns, and works — their employment, education,
income, and safety in the home — can create social barriers. For example,
people with disabilities are less likely to complete high school or be employed. In
2021, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics reported the jobless rate for those with a
disability was about twice as high as for those without a disability.
A lack of awareness or inclusion for accessible activities or programs available
for people with disabilities can often be traced to policy. Barriers are removed
when policies are inclusive of differently-abled people.
Finding housing can be a challenge for adults with disabilities. Many housing
options are available, including group homes and assisted living facilities, but
they can be difficult to find or afford. Some people live with their families; others
live in their own homes.
A big part of figuring out the best place to live is determining what lifestyle the
person desires and whether their preferences align with family members or
caregivers. For example, for those who are very independent but still have some
trouble getting around due to mobility issues, perhaps sharing an apartment with
other adults with similar needs makes sense.
● Education and Training
Several barriers that can make it difficult for people with disabilities to access
education and training opportunities:
● Difficulty getting into a good school or university. While most schools will
permit students with disabilities to enroll and attend classes, they may not
provide the support needed for learning. Students in this situation can be
left feeling alienated from their peers and unprepared for graduation due
to an environment that doesn’t meet their needs or abilities.
● Difficulty staying in school after starting college or university studies. Many
colleges and universities do not have programs designed specifically for
individuals with disabilities, making it difficult for them to find suitable
housing options once they begin attending classes there (this includes
both dorms and off-campus housing).
● Personal Hygiene
Getting help with personal hygiene and grooming is an integral part of living
independently. Asking for help can make someone feel vulnerable or
embarrassed, especially if they’ve been managing alone for years without
realizing there was no reason to be embarrassed about their condition.
Help Us Improve Life for Adults With Disabilities
The Angelus, in Hudson, Florida, offers a day program, five group homes, and a host of
amenities on 17 beautiful wooded acres. As a nonprofit organization, The Angelus
receives state funding but depends on donations that enable us to offer a high level of
care. There are many ways you can help.
The Angelus offers person-centered Day Program services and activities that include
life and personal skills, arts and crafts, gardening, swimming, earth science, motor
skills, technology and computer skills, personal and oral hygiene, personal assistance,
and frequent repositioning.
Everyone can make a difference in the lives of people with disabilities to ensure they
are treated with dignity, respected, and offered choices in life. There are many ways to
help. Make a one-time or monthly gift, an in-kind contribution, participate in a
fundraising event, or become a volunteer. Your donation can change a life!