By Sara Wilson
Our society as a whole can only function well when all its sections are working well. Americans with disabilities are an equal part of this society. Society can treat them as a burden and choose to ignore them, as it has been conveniently doing for a long. However, the best way to deal with the problem is to accept it. Community integration of developmentally disabled adults and kids is the right way to solve the problem. Treating people with intellectual disabilities with respect and as equals is the way. If they are given the right training, exposure, and opportunities, they can become a contributing member of society. They are only a bit slow and they have had no control over it. All that is required is the inclusion of people with mental disabilities.
Jobs for the disabled are disproportionate. It is no secret that the share of developmentally disabled adults in jobs is very low. As per the statistics released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, only 17.9% of people with disabilities were employed in 2016. The employment ratio of people without disabilities is well above 76%. This shows that community integration has been lacking. The sense of empathy and companionship may have been lingering deep in our hearts it has been absent in society.
It is important that we all take steps to increase their participation in society as a whole. Making them feel like a contributing member is very important. Some ways to promote their independence and increase their participation are:
Work is always emancipating. It breaks barriers and brings people into the mainstream. Developmentally disabled adults mainly remain cut off from society because they do not get to work in it. It is important that we give them work. Right to work with everyone will give them a sense of belonging. They will be able to integrate into society better. Developmental disabilities services are limited and their scope needs to be widened.
Sports is a great way to break inhibitions and make people comfortable and loved. It can be a great medium for promoting community integration in people with mental disabilities. It makes people more inclined towards taking initiative. It can become a starting point for gaining independence.
Respect and Interaction
One of the biggest reasons for people with intellectual disabilities not being independent is a lack of trust. Our interaction with them is so low that we are never able to develop respect for their abilities. People with mental disabilities are generally fit for physical work. They are employable in several types of jobs. It is our lack of knowledge and trust that keeps them aloof. By increasing interaction with them, a trust-building exercise can be started. Their community integration through work will propel their quest for independence. Supported housing is also a great way to increase their interaction with everyone. They will get higher exposure and live with everyone without inhibitions.
The less we know, the lesser we bother. Developmentally disabled adults have a very low representation in society. This has created a vacuum. A feel-good factor where we have closed our eyes to reality. This can be changed by increasing their representation in society. Allowing more people to work, live and play besides everyone is the best way to cater to it.
Increase Awareness by Teaching
Lack of ample knowledge about intellectual disabilities and the problems people with them face is a big reason for concern. This ignorance becomes the root cause of apathy. For greater inclusion, it is important that we teach people about them. The problems, their causes, and the limitations they cause. This will help people in understanding people with mental disabilities. Their sympathetic and cooperative attitude to creating a safer environment. Developmentally disabled people will be able to move around more safely without being stared at or google.
Americans with disabilities are as important a part of the nation as everyone else. They can and should contribute their part in the development of the nation but for that, they need to get a chance. This chance has to be given to them by making them independent. Community integration is a great step, to begin with. Supported housing is one initiative that has started bringing them into the mainstream and more such steps need to be taken.