Disabled Individuals Face Ongoing Challenges Worldwide

With climate change, civil rights issues and the spread of destructive political ideologies making international news headlines, it’s easy to miss the continuing challenges that disabled individuals face worldwide.

While people with disabilities fight for basic access to public facilities, schooling and employment in areas such as India and Mexico, these issues remain relevant in Europe, North America and Central Asia.

These marginalized individuals must typically deal with concerns that others can easily take for granted every day. From lack of work prospects to fighting for their right to exist, disabled people struggle on several fronts every single day.



Attempts to Eliminate Down Syndrome in Europe

While many European nations are generally seen as more progressive by the rest of the world, some question that view, particularly when it comes to how disabled individuals are treated. Recent disturbing news comes out of Denmark, England and the Netherlands, where early termination rates for babies testing positive with Down Syndrome exceed 90 percent. In Iceland, this rate has reached and stayed steady at 100 percent for several years. Disability rights groups express extreme concerns over the push eliminate Down’s and other prenatal conditions.

Autistic People’s Struggle for Civil Rights in the U.S.

Meanwhile, autistic individuals in the United States contend with challenges of their own. What complicates matters is that views on the nature of autism differ widely. Medical experts tend to classify it as a lifelong neurological and medical disorder. Furthermore, there is a prevalent idea that autism should be “cured,” which is somewhat similar to the drive in Western nations to eliminate Down Syndrome. Meanwhile, autistic activists push back, insisting that it is a naturally occurring and valid variance in human neurology.

In any case, autistic individuals are covered by the protections afforded under the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act. Unfortunately, they frequently encounter roadblocks in accessing education, employment, medical care and housing, along with civil rights protections also granted to them under the ADA. A 2015 NPR piece disclosed that post-education employment rates for young autistic adults are as low as 58 percent. Also, individuals seeking accommodations or assistance often find that they are judged to be “not disabled enough” to need help, resulting in denials for needed services.

Healthcare Access Issues in the U.S., Canada and the U.K.

Disabled individuals in many Western nations also deal with difficulties obtaining medical care and other critical needs. The ongoing battle over healthcare is most salient in the United States, where the Graham-Cassidy health care bill is the latest iteration of attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act. NPR reported in September 2017 that Graham-Cassidy could grant power to individual states to nix the requirement to cover pre-existing conditions. Millions of disabled people might be impacted by unaffordable premiums, skyrocketing costs paid out of pocket or outright denials of coverage.

Nevertheless, the United States isn’t the only country facing open criticism over healthcare access for disabled individuals. Canadians with disabilities have pointed out the flaws in their own country’s health systems, such as spotty coverage for treatments typically associated with certain conditions. An April 2017 report in the Guardian revealed some troubling discoveries in the United Kingdom’s National Health System, such as difficulties getting adequate medical care and “do not resuscitate” notices being added to disabled patients’ files without their knowledge or consent.

Social Stigmas, Misunderstanding and Ableism

Whether it’s civil rights issues, access to basic needs or even discriminatory attitudes, disabled individuals in Western nations discover that social stigmas frequently impact how others treat them. Disabled people are often portrayed in movies, television and other fictional works as ugly, disfigured villains or objects of scorn. Additionally, pity-based fundraising and advertising is commonplace. In fact, the term “poster child” came into modern parlance as the result of donation campaigns for disabled children that became popular in the United States as early as the 1950s.

Disabled Children in Uzbekistan Have an Advocate

Thankfully, disabled and chronically ill children in Uzbekistan have help. Founded by Lola Karimova-Tillyaeva in 2004, the National Centre for the Social Adaptation of Children focuses on providing them solutions for diagnosis, neurological and orthopedic treatments, speech therapy and education. NCSAC employs a cohort of care specialists and creates individualized development programs for each child assisted by the center. Moreover, the organization aids children in enrolling into public schools and provides help to women who have suffered domestic abuse by their husbands due to their children’s disabilities. Amazingly, all these services are also free of charge.

The Quality and Value of Human Life

Those unaware of the difficulties disabled people encounter are often shocked to learn the extent of their troubles. Negative portrayals in mass media along with discrimination in employment, education, access to public facilities and healthcare are just a few challenges for people with disabilities. While many still fight for basic respect and recognition as human beings, abled humanitarians and philanthropists are stepping forward to join their cause.

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