Disabilities come in all shapes and sizes, they are both seen and unseen, and may be temporary or last a lifetime. Nearly 1 in 5 people in the United States live with a disability, ranging from functional to severe limitations. A transformative shift took place in the 20th century when it came to people with disabilities, bringing with it long sought-after dignity, respect and acceptance by the wider community. With laws in place to protect their rights, as well as innovative assistive technology and advanced access to healthcare and medical equipment, people with disabilities are discovering an unprecedented quality of life.
Even so, they face daily challenges and obstacles, including safety and security concerns, as well as income, legal, educational and employment woes. As one of the United State’s largest minority groups, people with disabilities are more likely to be unemployed and live in poverty than the average citizen. That’s why organizations and companies, from local nonprofits to international foundations, have focused resources and awareness to advocating and serving people with disabilities.
Support, empower and advocate for people with disabilities with the following resources and groups.
Americans with Disabilities Act ( https://www.ada.gov/ada_intro.htm ) - comprehensive example of civil rights legislation, this 1990 “equal opportunity” law prohibits discrimination and ensures that U.S. citizens living with a disability are given the same opportunities for employment and participation in their communities
Individuals with Disabilities Education Act ( https://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/osers/osep/osep-idea.html ) - four-part piece of American legislation that was enacted in 1975 and renamed in 1990, IDEA guarantees that all children with disabilities are afforded the same educational opportunities as non-disabled children
Developmental Disabilities Assistance & Bill of Rights Act ( https://www.aucd.org/template/page.cfm?id=516 ) - policy signed into law in 2000, the DD Act offers a programmatic approach to involving people with disabilities and their families in the development of community resources, assistance and support networks
Social Security Act ( https://www.ssa.gov/history/35act.html ) - 1935 piece of legislation that created the Social Security Administration aimed towards providing support and and federal benefits to older adults as well as people with disabilities, people living in poverty, and new families
American Disability Association ( http://www.adanet.org/ ) - association serving North and South Americans with disabilities, dedicated to sourcing valuable information regarding disabilities, driving awareness, and enhancing the collective quality of life.
World Institute on Disability ( https://wid.org/ ) - nonprofit organization spearheading initiatives to promote full integration of people with disabilities in their communities through health and wellness, employment and benefits, climate change and disaster response programs
International Disability Alliance ( www.internationaldisabilityalliance.org ) - alliance made up of 14 global and regional organizations serving people with disabilities that is aimed to advocate global inclusion at the UN
TASH ( tash.org ) - a nonprofit corporation set up to bolster community inclusiveness and participation of people with disabilities, as well as eliminate the social injustices that diminish their basic human rights
Handicap International ( http://www.handicap-international.us/ ) - independent organization helping people with disabilities and other vulnerable populations by collaborating with local partners and authorities to run health, rehabilitation, social and economic programs
Disability Rights International ( http://www.driadvocacy.org/ ) - worldwide organization documenting human rights abuses committed against people with disability, as well as fighting for enforcement of protection laws and promoting international oversight through advocacy and awareness
International Disability and Development Consortium ( http://www.iddcconsortium.net/ ) - global consortium comprised of disability and development non-governmental organizations and disabled people’s organizations working in more than 100 countries around the world to support the exchange of information, policy knowledge and practice of inclusivity in development
National (U.S.) Resources & Organizations
National Organization on Disability ( http://www.nod.org/ ) - private, non-profit organization with a mission dedicated to increasing employment opportunities for working-aged people with disabilities
United States Department of Labor Office of Disability Employment Policy ( Disability.Gov ) - government resource center for people with disabilities looking for information regarding Social Security benefits, civil rights, education, employment and community life
National Disability Rights Network ( http://www.ndrn.org/index.php ) - national organization established to vigilantly fight for the protection of the basic rights of people with disabilities by advocating for the enforcement of laws set up to safeguard them
Disabled World ( https://www.disabled-world.com/ ) - online-focused hub for information, news articles, and educational videos regarding people with disabilities
National Association of Disability Representatives ( http://www.nadr.org/ ) - nonprofit organization offering free national referral service for people with disabilities seeking information and assistance with claiming Social Security Disability
Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund ( https://dredf.org/ ) - leading national civil rights law and policy center fighting discrimination against people with disabilities and advancing their human rights through training, education, and legislative advocacy.
Disabled American Veterans ( www.dav.org ) - nonprofit charity supporting the community of veterans with disabilities and their families by providing services including transportation, job fairs, and employment assistance, as well as fighting for active and retroactive benefit claims
American Association of People with Disabilities ( http://www.aapd.com/ ) - a national, cross-disability organization promoting equal employment opportunity, independent living, economic power, and political participation for people with disabilities
The Arc ( www.thearc.org ) - national community-based organization serving people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families through an advocacy network made up of state and local chapters
National Council on Disability ( http://www.ncd.gov/ ) - independent federal agency that works directly with the President, Congress and other federal agencies to advise on policies, practices and procedures that affect people with disabilities
Americans with Disabilities Act Information and Technical Assistance ( https://www.ada.gov/ ) - U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division offering answers to questions about ADA, the enforcement of protection laws and human rights, as well as information, tools, videos and resources for people with disabilities
Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services ( https://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/osers/osep/osep-idea.html ) - U.S. Department of Education office focusing on the implementation and enforcement of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, created to ensure services to children in the U.S. with disabilities
Association of University Centers on Disabilities ( https://www.aucd.org/template/index.cfm ) - a membership organization that supports and promotes a national network of university-based interdisciplinary programs geared towards promoting positive change for people living development and physical disabilities and their families
Center on Technology and Disability ( http://www.ctdinstitute.org/ ) - center designed to increase the access to and use of assistive and instructional technology for children, their schools and their families
Also see the CTD Assistive Technology Glossary here .
Rehabilitation Engineering and Assistive Technology Society of North America ( http://www.resna.org/ ) - premier professional membership organization dedicated to creating a positive impact in the lives of people with disabilities through increased access to technology solutions
Assistive Technology Industry Association ( https://www.atia.org/ ) - organization for manufacturers, sellers and providers of assistive technology equipment and systems for people with disabilities
Assistive Technology Blog ( http://assistivetechnologyblog.com/ ) - online site disseminating helpful resources, information and news regarding assistive technology advancements for people with disabilities
Organizations, websites and nonprofits established to support early intervention of services for families with children who have disabilities, as well as pioneer research and advocate for the protection of those families. Check out the following: