Utah Celebrates Neurodiversity Acceptance in Disability Pride Month

DigitalIntelligence

July is the "Disability Pride Month" in the US. 2021 is the 31st Anniversary of the ADA.

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Photo by Marcus Aurelius from Pexels

Millions of people suffer from disabilities globally. To give you an indication, according to a WHO (World Health Organization) report, there are around 253 million blind, 466 million deaf, 200 million intellectually disabled, and 75 million people in wheelchairs with mobility disabilities.

Some people accept their conditions, and unfortunately, some hide them. Hiding disabilities may cause mental and emotional stress leading to severe health conditions.

Several countries are ahead of the game to empower their citizens. The US is one of the most developed countries in supporting people with disabilities.

According to Ameridisability.com, the first Disability Pride Day was held in Boston in 1990; and the first US-based Disability Pride Parade was held in Chicago in 2004. New York Mayor Bill de Blasio declared July Disability Pride Month in celebration of the ADA's 25th anniversary in 2015.

President George H.W. Bush signed ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) on July 26, 1990. ADA is the law that prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities. ADA belongs to the US Department of Justice Civil Rights Division. Law, regulations, enforcement, Design Standards, and technical assistance materials can be obtained at this government site.

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Screen Capture from ADA website

Originally initiated by guidance and inspiration from ADA, Disability Pride Parades are undertaken nationwide and in many states, including Utah.

Why Utah?

The reason I cover Utah specifically in this article is its statistical significance in the disabled population percentage in the US. According to stats, Utah has the lowest percentage of the disabled population, depicting 9.1%. The following diagram shows the top lowest range and the next diagram shows the top highest range per state.

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Screen Capture from Statista Website

When we look at the top ten highest scales, Virginia has the highest percentage of the disabled population on the scale showing 19.8%.

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Screen Capture from Statista Website

Numerous non-profit organizations and communities are supporting Disability Pride Month in the US. The easiest and quickest way of winding the centers is through the ADRC (Aging and Disability Resource Center).

ADRC (established in 2003) is a collaborative effort of the US Administration for Community Living, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, and the Veterans Health Administration. It is designed to streamline access to long-term care. The organization supports state efforts in coordinating and integrating their existing access functions to create a new interface between consumers and the long-term care system.

You can contact ADRC by phone at 1-800-677-1116. However, you can use the search bar by using zip code, city or state name if you need the details of state agencies. For example, when typed Utah, the details in the following screen capture appears.

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Screen Capture from ADRC Website

By using this form, we can access the website for the Utah Department of Human Services, DAAS (Division of Aging & Adult Services). Then from the services tab, you can find DSPD (Division of Services for People with Disabilities).

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Screen Capture from DSPD Site

The DSPD website informs that the organization promotes opportunities and supports people with disabilities to lead self-determined lives by overseeing home and community-based services for more than 5,000 people with disabilities.
Support includes community living, day services, supported employment services, and many more.

The DSPD website provides easy access to resources for disabled people. You can click on each tab to access the required services.

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Screen Capture from ADRC Website

Why and how "Disability Pride Month" is celebrated in Utah

The purpose of pride month is to promote visibility and awareness of the positive pride felt by people with disabilities. These people may come from different settings, including various ages, ethnicities, religions, and socio-economic backgrounds.

The known problem is that some people try to hide their disability, causing emotional and mental stress in many walks of life. These stressful situations may cause some undesirable health issues. This special month encourages residents to accept their disability and share their experiences with others confidently.

ABC4Utah uploaded a 20-minute YouTube video yesterday. This video explains the importance of Disability Pride Month and conducts interviews with three experts in the disability field.

The video presents interviews with three guests. They are Kelie Hess from the Utah School to Work program coordinator at the Institute for Disability Research, Policy, and Practice at Utah State University, Eric Stoker, information specialist for the Utah Developmental Disabilities Council; and Matthew Wappett, executive director of the Institute for Disability Research, Policy, and Practice at Utah State University.

The guests define pride and provide valuable perspectives on the importance of this month and how residents can participate in this important celebration.

Another organisation helping residents and encouraging pride month is Neurodiverse Utah. This non-profit organisation provides three primary services: community, education, and advocacy. Details can be found in this Google document providing the mission statement of Neurodiverse Utah.

Other resources of Neurodiverse can be accessed via a Linktr.ee interface.

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Screen Capture from Neurodiverse Utah Facebook Page

Neurodiverse Utah sent an invitation to celebrate ADA 31st Anniversary.

This year the theme is "Disability Pride: Art is for Every Body."

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Screen Capture from Neurdiverse Utah Facebook Page

Disability Law Center (another non-profit organisation) planned a free annual public hearing session to be held on 27 August 2021 using Zoom. The address for the session is us02web.zoom.us.

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Screen Capture from DLC Facebook Page

Even though statistically, Utah has the lowest percentage of disabled people, there are still many residents with disabilities. For example, according to the Salt Lake Tribune, one of every three Utah senior citizens has a disability.

CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention) has a Disability and Health Promotion site for Utah. The program states that:

Everyone can play a role in supporting more inclusive state programs, communities, and health care to help people with, or at risk for, disabilities be well and active in their communities. Join CDC and its partners as we work together to improve the health of people with disabilities.

The CDC site shows the percentage of adults in Utah with functional disability types. They are mobility, cognition, independent living, hearing, vision, self-care.

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Screen Capture from CDC Website

The following diagram shows the situation of adults with disabilities in Utah experiencing health disparity. As shown in the diagram, obesity, diabetes and heart disease affect disabled people more.

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Screen Capture from CDC Website

From an economic perspective, disability healthcare costs are about $4.8 billion per year in Utah. It is around 29% of Utah's health care spending. So the state allocates around $14k per person with a disability.

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Screen Capture from CDC Website

According to Disability Secrets, Utah doesn't have a state disability insurance program. However, residents can obtain federal Social Security or SSI disability benefits in Utah. According to Kuer.org, Utah's support for people with disabilities has improved but still needs further improvement. As reported by APNews, in 2020, the Utah government created pandemic safeguards for people with disabilities.

Conclusions

As depicted from the stats, the federal government, Utah government, non-profit organisations, and communities have a strong focus on the well-being of residents with disabilities.

There is technical support from the government, e.g. the ADA site, assistive devices by NIH, and many innovative tools from commercial companies to make life easier.

Disability Pride Month is an excellent opportunity for the Utah residents to help each other and celebrate neurodiversity.

Furthermore, the U.S. is a country of unity, diversity, and equality with many nationalities and ethnicities. Disabilities go beyond boundaries, including age, gender, race, and religion. Helping people with disabilities gives comfort to those who need it.

Thank you for reading my perspectives.

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