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Disabilty Resources

Learn about the variety of disability resources available.

Individuals with disabilities can use various employment resources to find an ideal job placement. [©Shutterstock, 2010]
©Shutterstock, 2010
Individuals with disabilities can use various employment resources to find an ideal job placement.

Disability Resources

There are a variety of disability resources available for people with disabilities. One of the best firsthand resources is Disability Info.gov, which is an online clearinghouse connecting people with disabilities to government resources. In addition, Disability Resources, a nonprofit company, is another excellent resource for people with disabilities. This company uses a small group of volunteers to monitor publications, online resources and audiovisual materials for specific disability resources. They publish this information in a monthly newsletter, Disability Resources Monthly. Beyond these broad resources, there are specific resources available for different areas, suc h as employment, education, transportation, assistive technology, health, benefits and housing.

Employment

People with disabilities can start their search for employment by using larger companies, such as Hire Disability Solutions , that connect prospective employers to workers with disabilities. People looking for training should consider Project HIRED, a nonprofit organization that trains, assesses and places people with disabilities in jobs. The federal government employs 209,284 people with disabilities; consequently, there are ongoing employment opportunities at multiple levels of government. Federal Jobs Net serves as the gateway to obtaining information about these particular jobs. People interested in technology careers should contact Lift, a nonprofit company that focuses on training, hiring and placing people with disabilities in a technology profession.

Education

Parents of students with learning disabilities can find helpful information at the National Center for Learning Disabilities. Students seeking information about higher education should contact the Association on Higher Education and Disability, which provides various resources to students with disabilities and their parents.

Paying for school is not cheap; however, there are specific financial resources for people with disabilities. FinAid offers extensive information about scholarships and fellowships for students with disabilities. Another good resource is the University of Washington's Web site, which specifically addresses college funding strategies for people with disabilities.

Transportation

Research suggests that about 30 percent of people with disabilities have some difficulty finding adequate transportation, while 16 percent cite major difficulties related to finding adequate transportation. However, there are online resources to assist the disabled in identifying transportation opportunities. Easter Seals Project Action offers the National Accessible Travelers Database. Travelers with disabilities can search this database for local transportation options. For those interested in traveling by air, it is best to check the Federal Aviation Administration's Web Site for information pertaining to air travel by disabled passengers. Rail travelers should check with Amtrak to obtain specific details about additional services available to riders with disabilities. Such services include wheelchair-to-seat transfers, transportation of oxygen equipment, service animals and accessible seating. Auto travel can be made easier by making certain modifications to vehicles. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration offers specific guidelines on adapting motor vehicles to make them more accessible.

Assistive Technology Resources

Assistive technology is a type of equipment that increases the independence of people with disabilities. The Alliance for Technology Access provides assistive technology information and resources through community-based centers across the country. The primary focus of this organization is the acquisition of technology for people with disabilities. ABLEDATA serves as a clearinghouse for assistive technology products offered through national and international companies or organizations. ALLTech is an organization that offers a variety of services related to assistive technology, including assistive technology assessments. During such an assessment, ALLTech helps individuals with disabilities identify, acquire and implement assistive technology devices that increase personal independence and quality of life.

Health

Unfortunately, obtaining health insurance is not an easy task for people with disabilities. People who are employed can typically get group coverage through their employer; however, if group coverage is not available, the options are slim. Many insurance companies view disability as a pre-existing condition that they will not cover; consequently, many people with disabilities are forced into purchasing health insurance through a high-risk pool. High-risk pools are costly, may have waiting periods for pre-existing conditions and may restrict coverage. The American Diabetes Association provides specific information about eligibility for high-risk pools.

Some people with disabilities may qualify for Medicare or Medicaid. Medicare is typically for elderly people, while Medicaid is for people with low incomes. Children with disabilities may qualify for state health insurance programs. The U. S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) offers information about low-cost children's health insurance available through state children's health insurance programs. People without group, private or government health insurance may still be able to receive care. If a hospital accepts federal money, then it must offer some free or reduced-cost services. It is best to set up a meeting with a hospital social worker to determine eligibility for such services. Also, children with certain disabilities may qualify for free treatment at Shriners Hospitals for Children. Shriners Hospitals specialize in orthopedics, burns, spinal cord injury, and cleft lip and palate.

Benefits

The two largest federal programs that provide benefits to people with disabilities are Social Security Disability Insurance and Supplemental Security Income. Depending on income level, some people with disabilities may be eligible for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food and Nutrition Service. Parents of children with disabilities may want to explore educational options available through the Administration for Children & Families, run by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

There are a variety of programs available to help disabled veterans and members of the military community. Specifically, the U.S. Army Wounded Warrior Program offers advocacy and assistance to severely wounded soldiers and their families. The Air Force Aid Society provides financial assistance to Air Force members and their families, including retired members and their dependents and the dependents of the deceased. Their Respite Care Program is specifically targeted at "special-needs" family members.

Housing

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development sabilities. Another option is Accessible Space, a nonprofit organization devoted to establishing cooperative homes for people with disabilities. Today, the company has 101 buildings in 27 states. The Center for Housing and New Community Economics seeks to improve access to affordable and accessible housing that does not congregate or isolate people with disabilities.

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