People with Disabilities

Andrews University accepts and appreciates diversity in its students inclusive of those with disabilities and will provide reasonable accommodations on an individualized basis to the greatest extent possible without compromising the integrity of the student’s degree. It is the responsibility of the student with a disability to seek assistance from the disability support officer in the Student Success Center and to provide detailed documentation of the disability from an appropriate, licensed official to certify the student as having a disability.

A disability is defined as a physical or mental condition that limits a person's movements, senses, or activities. People with disabilities are the largest minority group in the world. There is about a 20% probability that any given individual will join this group at some point during their lifetime. Diversity discussions often focus on gender and race with lesser inclusion of discussion on people with disabilities. Racial minorities with disabilities face an even greater challenge in gaining employment. The term “people with disabilities” is preferred over “disabled people” in order to place greater emphasis on “people” and less on “disabled.”

As a group, people with disabilities identify the most significant issues they face as discrimination and lack of respect. A widely held prejudice is that a life with disability is somehow a lesser life. This fundamental assumption about people with disabilities leads to misunderstanding and discrimination (Shapiro, 1993). Other key issues faced by people with disabilities are unemployment and barriers to access or communication. These issues, along with prejudice, discrimination, and misunderstanding present significant barriers to inclusion in workplaces and communities.

Current Facts and Demographics
According to the 2010 census, there were 57 million people with disabilities living in the US. Of these, 12 million needed assistance with normal daily activities. Types of disabilities can be broadly characterized as communicative, mental, or physical. Communicative disabilities may involve limitations in seeing, hearing, or speaking. Ambulatory difficulties due to lower body limitations are a form of physical disability. Upper body limitations can lead to limitations in ability to lift, carry, or grasp objects. Mental disabilities can be cognitive or emotional. The likelihood of disability increases with age with 70 percent of Americans aged 80 and above having some kind of disability.

Legal Issues
People with disabilities are protected from discrimination by the Americans with Disabilities Act . However, accommodations do not necessarily result in inclusion. Dealing with isolation and the lack of a sense of belonging is essential for people with disabilities to thrive. Accommodation does not address the larger issue of inclusion in society. Prejudice and misunderstanding are barriers that people with disabilities, along with other minorities, continue to face.

Federal government website for comprehensive information on disability programs and services nationwide
Information related to Americans with Disabilities Act
Publications related to ADA including the complete text of the legislation
Protection and advocacy for people with disabilities
Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund

Resources
Disabled World  - Articles related to people with disabilities
The federal government is promoting hiring of people with disabilities
The disability talent space: career opportunities, scholarships, campus visits and webinars
Career Opportunities for Students with Disabilities
Employment Resources for the Disabled
The National Council on Independent Living (NCIL) is a network of support and advocacy for people with disabilities with an emphasis on independent living. Included in this network are the Centers for Independent Living (CILs) and the Statewide Independent Living Councils (SILCs). The mission of NCIL is: "As a membership organization, NCIL advances independent living and the rights of people with disabilities through consumer-driven advocacy." The NCIL website is an excellent place to find local resources and support.

October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month in the US.

Financial Aid Resources
Scholarships
Medical Goods Scholarships
College Grants

Content provided in part by Dave Mills, Dr. Erich Baumgartner’s Fall 2013 Diversity, Leadership & Culture class (LEAD 689/789).