Disability

A man using a prosthesis exercising outside.

June is Get Outdoors Month, and we want everyone to get outside and take advantage of all that nature has to offer! We believe the outdoors should be for everyone! Below, you will find resources for accessible outdoor opportunities like physical activities, adapted sports, parks and more. You can also find out how to be an advocate for better accessibility for everyone and contact our team for any further assistance locating resources. Get outside and get active for your health!

To visit these resources, click the linked bullet points below the organization’s name!

Accessible Trails, National Parks and Neighborhood Parks

National Park Service

American Association of Retired Persons (AARP)

Trail Link

National Park Foundation

  • Accessibility for All Americans Program 
    • Ensuring everyone can access and experience national parks. Securing funds today can guarantee that Americans with disabilities fully engage in the life and ecosystem of our national parks.

All Trails

  • Find Your Outside
    • Helps people explore the outdoors with curated trail maps that include photos, reviews and user recordings crowdsourced from our community of millions of registered hikers, mountain bikers and trail runners in 150 countries. You can search by wheelchair activities.

Trailforks  

  • Trailforks Trail Database
    • A database, map and management system for users, builders and associations. A platform for trail associations to keep track of trail conditions, builders to log work users to discover, plan and share their activities. You can search by adapted biking.

Disabled Hikers

  • Home Page
    • A cross-disability-led nonprofit building disability community and justice in the outdoors. 

Outdoor Recreation and Physical Activity

Cerebral Palsy Research Network

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

Driving to Independence

NorthShore

Muscular Dystrophy Association

Easterseals

Adapted Sports and Fitness

Spaulding Adaptive Sports Centers (SASC)

  • Spaulding Adaptive Sports Centers Activities
    • Spaulding offers year-round programs including in-person sports/recreation option and virtual fitness classes. In-person programs are primarily located in the Massachusetts area (three main regions including Boston metro region, Cape Cod and the North Shore) but all are welcome to attend after creating a profile on their website. Other in-person programs are offered in out of state skiing/snowboarding programs in New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Maine and Vermont! Virtual programs are available to anyone!

Bay Area Outreach and Recreation Program (BORP)

  • Home
    • Find youth and adult sports programs, fitness, outings and more for individuals in the northern California area on the BORP website!
  • Virtual Fitness Programs
    • BORP offers several virtual fitness classes that include activities like strength and cardio training, tai chi and yoga!

Move United

  • Home
    • Move United works with organizations in the United States to provide opportunities for individuals with disabilities to play sports.
  • Sports
    • Get information about adaptive sports programs, equipment and more through Move United’s sports page!

Adapted Skiing

  • Home
    • Find the right equipment for adaptive snow skiing, clubs and accessible resorts and watch informational videos on their website!

Challenged Athletes Foundation

  • Adapted Sports Organizations
    • A comprehensive list of national adapted sports organizations covering a variety of sports and organized by state.

Special Olympics 

  • North American Region Resources
    • Provides year-round sports training and athletic competition in a variety of Olympic-type sports for children and adults with intellectual disabilities, giving them continuing opportunities to develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage, experience joy and participate in a sharing of gifts, skills and friendship with their families, other Special Olympics athletes and the community. 

Outdoors for All Foundation

  • Resources
    • Resources related to recreation, disabilities, organizations, other websites with relevant information and more.

Inclusion Matters

  • Where We Play
    • An inclusive playground directory with locations around the world.

Additional Outdoor Resources

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

  • Parks, Recreation and Green Spaces
    • Be an advocate for better community inclusion and discover what other cities and states are doing to improve outdoor physical activity for all.

Land Trust Alliance

  • Open to All
    • Assists people with disabilities and provides practical ideas for incorporating inclusion into your land trust’s programming and organizational culture.

Wheelmap 

  • Find Wheelchair Accessible Places
    • This map works similarly to Wikipedia: Anyone can contribute and mark public places worldwide according to their wheelchair accessibility. The criteria for marking places is based on a simple traffic light system (Green = Fully wheelchair accessible).

Wheelchair Traveling

  • Find Accessible Places Around the World
    • Works to empower people with limited mobility, their friends and loved ones to access and experience the world of accessible leisure and adventure travel.

Google Maps

NCHPAD Outdoor Videos

NCHPAD Expert Inclusion Specialists (EIS)

If you’re searching for accessible programs or resources, our team of expert inclusion specialists is here to help! The primary way to contact an EIS is through the NCHPAD Call Center. Our Call Center team works with individuals to enroll them in NCHPAD Connect, answer questions about programs or connect them to an EIS for community resources and technical assistance. Our EIS expertise is always free and available 7 a.m. – 7 p.m. Monday-Friday.

To reach the NCHPAD Call Center, call 866-866-8896 or email nchpad@uab.edu.

You can also find out more about the work of our EIS team here!

A woman with a prosthesis and a man with a prosthesis sitting on a small wall looking at each other and smiling.

The MENTOR program uses the acronym MY SCORECARD as a simple and effective way to monitor behaviors throughout the day. The fourth letter in MY SCORECARD is C, which stands for core values.

Core values are a key wellness domain for mental health. These values represent what an individual believes in, such as achieving good health or being positive with others, and how they practice these beliefs daily.

Core values are more about who a person wants to be rather than what they want to do. Understanding who you want to be (e.g., a person who eats well) helps you determine what actions to take to achieve this identity.

What are Core Values?

Core values are what matter most in life. They embody the deepest feelings of who we are at our core and reflect how we live or aspire to live. They are the characteristics we want others to recognize in us. Core values are the essence of our identity and guide the kind of life we wish to lead.

Why Do Core Values Matter?

A fulfilling life requires a set of guiding principles like core values. Core values are crucial for maintaining positive relationships with family, friends and coworkers. They are also essential for living a mindful life that respects and dignifies others.

In the MENTOR program, core values also focus on living well with a disability or health condition, emphasizing the importance of health and the strategies to maintain it.

Core values form the foundation for healthy living. They provide purpose, clarity and perspective. Without them, individuals may feel aimless and struggle with setting and achieving goals, especially after acquiring a disability.

Core values help prevent feelings of apathy, loss and grievance, making behavior change more attainable. They not only benefit the individual but also positively impact those around them.

Core values are an important part of healthy living and help navigate life’s challenges. Challenges and problems can lead to negative emotions like anger, frustration and despair. But when you adopt core values, you can shape your identity and stay focused on your journey from recovery to improvement and prevention.

Living by core values begins with committing to a set of values that align with your goals. Goals represent your destination, while values guide your journey. Core values act as guideposts, helping you stay on track even when faced with challenges.

How to Start

Begin by identifying and writing down your core values. Instead of saying you need to quit smoking or you need to start exercising, tell yourself who you want to be and make it part of your identity. This process can transform your identity, leading to positive behavior changes. Core values are about becoming someone, not just having something.  

Instead of defining yourself by your goals (like losing 10 pounds, exercising more or eating better), define yourself by the person you aspire to be. Use statements such as:

  • I am a physically active person.
  • I am a mindful person.
  • I am a person who manages personal hygiene and advocates for access and inclusion.
  • I am a person who lives by core values that prioritize others’ needs above my own.
  • My relationships with family, friends, coworkers, neighbors and strangers reflect a spirit of love and connectedness.
  • I respect my mind and body by eating well.
  • I honor the need for my mind and body to rest by sleeping 7 to 8 hours a night.

Understanding and living by your core values increases the likelihood of achieving your MENTOR goals. Once you make this part of your identity, it becomes a self-regulating behavior for you to achieve on your own. Make core values part of your daily life and hopefully, you become the person you want to be!

To learn more about MENTOR, visit our program page!

A female medical worker holding a chart and showing it to a male using his wheelchair.

Mental Health Awareness Month is a crucial time to acknowledge the importance of mental health for all. But awareness alone isn’t enough. Millions of individuals with disabilities experience the path to mental well-being filled with a variety of systematic, physical and attitudinal barriers. Promoting inclusion and accessibility is important for all healthcare providers, including those who focus on mental health, such as counselors, therapists, social workers and more.

This year, let’s move beyond awareness and focus on centering accessibility and promoting inclusion in and out of your mental health practice. Seeking mental healthcare should be a supportive and empowering experience, and this requires a commitment of action from mental health providers. Here are actionable things you as a provider can do to start promoting inclusion and create a welcoming and accessible environment that ensures everyone has a path to participate in mental healthcare.

1. Assess Your Practice’s Accessibility: Start by evaluating the accessibility of your practice’s physical space, digital platforms and communication methods. Identify any potential barriers, whether physical or digital, and prioritize making necessary adjustments to ensure individuals with disabilities can access your services with as few obstacles as possible. This may involve investing in new physical accommodations like automatic doors or more accessible parking spots, as well as offering alternative formats for intake forms and documentation.

2. Cultivate a Welcoming Environment: Equip yourself and your staff with ongoing disability education and training to learn more about the spectrum of disability, historical barriers and best practices for providing better mental health support and services. This helps foster a culture of respect and understanding, ensuring everyone feels valued and supported while engaging in mental health services.

3. Create Financial Assistance Programs: Recognize that individuals with disabilities may face financial barriers to accessing mental healthcare. Offer sliding-scale fees, payment plans or financial assistance programs to make services more affordable and accessible.

4. Community Resources Directory: Compile a directory of community resources and support services that are accessible to individuals with disabilities. Include information on accessible transportation options, support groups, advocacy organizations and disability-specific services to help individuals navigate available resources.

5. Provide Accommodations: Be proactive in offering accommodations to individuals with disabilities to ensure better access and support. This may include providing sign language interpreters, offering assistive devices or adjusting appointment scheduling to be remote vs. onsite. 

6. Encouragement of Self-Advocacy: Empower individuals with disabilities to advocate for their own needs and preferences within the therapeutic relationship. Encourage open communication and provide opportunities for clients to express their concerns, ask questions and assert their boundaries.

7. Promote Participation: Adapt resources and approaches in sessions to encourage active engagement from individuals with disabilities. Offer resources and materials in accessible alternate formats and adjust communication styles to center participation. By prioritizing accessibility, you empower people with disabilities to take an active role in their mental health journey, which will help foster a sense of agency and ownership in the therapeutic process.

8. Collaborate with Disability Organizations: Reach out to local disability advocacy organizations to establish partnerships and collaborations. Learn from their expertise and insights and work together to identify and address systemic barriers to mental health care access.

9. Seek Feedback and Adapt: Continuously seek feedback from individuals with disabilities about their experiences with your mental health services. Use this feedback to identify areas for improvement and make necessary adaptations to provide accessible and inclusive services.

10. Advocate for Policy Change: Advocate for policy changes at the local, state and national levels to improve access to mental healthcare for individuals with disabilities. Support initiatives that promote disability rights, healthcare accessibility and funding for disability-specific mental health programs.

While these tips provide a starting point, as healthcare providers, it’s crucial to ensure that mental healthcare is inclusive and accessible to individuals with and without disabilities. This month, make a commitment to take action in your own practices to diminish barriers to mental healthcare and enhance access and participation with people with disabilities.

To deepen your understanding and implementation of inclusive practices, consider enrolling in our new 1-hour online training on Disability Education for Healthcare Providers. This training offers a comprehensive exploration of the barriers individuals with disabilities face when seeking healthcare, emphasizing the pivotal role of inclusion. By participating, healthcare providers will gain invaluable insights to foster an environment where every patient’s needs are met with empathy and understanding. Additionally, you’ll explore initiatives by NCHPAD aimed at improving access to health and wellness for individuals with disabilities, empowering you to actively engage and contribute to these efforts. Together, let’s work toward building a more equitable and inclusive mental healthcare system that serves everyone.

1999-2024. National Center on Health, Physical Activity and Disability. An image of a table with NCHPAD brochures and marketing items on it. A photo of children smiling. A photo of a man using a wheelchair to cross the street. A graphic with a large "25" on it and "Twenty-Five years of Inclusion" underneath. The O in Inclusion is the NCHPAD logo.

As we celebrate 25 years of NCHPAD, we’re immensely proud of the nationwide impact we’ve had promoting the health, wellness and inclusion of people with disabilities into all areas of life. To commemorate our 25th anniversary, we’re looking back on our two-and-a-half decades of work.

NCHPAD’s 25 years of work with and for people with disabilities set the bar for our society to become more accessible and inclusive.

“Inclusion in health promotion and wellness activities is one of the most essential human rights in our society, no different from what curb cuts, ramps and accessible bathrooms did many years ago to allow people with disabilities to leave their homes,” said Dr. Jim Rimmer, NCHPAD Director. “NCHPAD’s 25 years of work with and for people with disabilities set the bar for our society to become more accessible and inclusive.”

From 1999 to 2012, we were known as the National Center on Physical Activity and Disability (NCPAD), based at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Our journey began with a clear mission: enhancing access to physical activity for individuals with disabilities.

During the first 13 years of NCHPAD, we focused on what could be considered the most important pathway to optimizing health and function: exercise. As we became a leader in promoting physical activity in people with disabilities, we decided that we needed to broaden our emphasis on health and well-being, and in 2012 we added an “H” to our name, for health.

“Adding health to our name gave us more tools in our toolbox to assist people with disabilities in improving their personal health and well-being,” said Dr. Rimmer. “And moving here to UAB, which includes a strong core of researchers who understand every aspect of physical activity and disability, has been absolutely crucial to our growth as the national leader in promoting the health and wellness of people with disabilities. We really could not practice this type of inclusion science without strong, continual support from UAB.”

Paralympian and public speaker Bob Lujano joined NCHPAD immediately after the move to Birmingham. He is grateful for the resources and opportunities NCHPAD has provided and proud to continue our legacy of inclusion and accessibility.

“Over the past 12 years, it has been my honor to work as an Expert Inclusion Specialist (EIS) at the NCHPAD – a job that is a continuous joyful endeavor,” said Lujano. “A big thanks to NCHPAD and those who have paved the way for me to have a platform of disability service in which I am allowed to forge ahead with my own disability lived experience. Here’s to many more years of NCHPAD continuing to better the lives of people with disabilities!”

During our first few years in Birmingham, we pioneered several initiatives promoting health and wellness among the disability community. From building a ‘paperless’ Information Center to transitioning towards dynamic online programs, we continuously evolved to better serve our community’s needs.

Our goals during this time were ambitious yet important: We wanted to improve access to programs, venues and services while increasing participation in beneficial physical activity and nutrition. We also worked to promote adherence to healthy behaviors and advocated for policy change and education by bridging research to practice through several unique, innovative approaches.

We are immensely proud of two significant milestones during that time: the launch of “NCHPAD 14 Weeks to a Healthier You,” a revolutionary online program offering personalized resources for physical activity and nutrition to individuals of all abilities and health aspirations, and our collaboration with the American College of Sports Medicine to introduce the Certified Inclusive Fitness Trainer training program.

“The past 25 years have allowed NCHPAD to make a positive impact on inclusion and disability in the education space,” said Penny Edwards, NCHPAD Program Manager. “We have impacted administrators, future leaders, university professors, classroom teachers, health educators, physical educators and the list goes on in the education space, reaching well over one million students! We can’t wait to see what the next 25 years bring.”

We have impacted administrators, future leaders, university professors, classroom teachers, health educators, physical educators and the list goes on in the education space, reaching well over one million students!

In 2013, we launched our YouTube channel. Our YouTube channel is our largest resource hub, with over 30,000 subscribers – reaching millions each year. It’s been an incredible journey of sharing valuable content and stories that equip and empower people with lived experience and stakeholders who work with people with disabilities.

“Throughout the years of NCHPAD, we’ve interviewed hundreds of people with disabilities. It’s a huge privilege to be trusted with that access, learn about their needs, platform their stories and foster change,” said Matt Henton, NCHPAD Video Production Manager. “We get to work directly with these individuals to create resources that can help millions of people. We’re uniquely poised and honored to slowly fill the disability health and wellness content vacuum, one video at a time.”

In the beginning days, our focus was on creating concise exercise videos that catered to individuals with physical disabilities, to promote health. As time passed, we broadened our content to include information on adapted sports, community inclusion guides, cooking demonstrations, disability education and material tailored for teenagers and children. This expansion reflected (and continues to reflect) our commitment to serving people of all ages and backgrounds, promoting health and advancing inclusion.

“I was born with cerebral palsy and have active epilepsy, so NCHPAD, for me, has been a place to learn about Universal Design, the ADA, internalized ableism, medical ableism, aging and disability, mental health and so much more,” said Ingrid Pfau, Lead Digital Media Producer. “We are here to share stories, educate and help people as much as possible with our resources.”

As time passed, we broadened our content to include information on adapted sports, community inclusion guides, cooking demonstrations, disability education and material tailored for teenagers and children.

Some of our video highlights include our “How-To” series featuring Paralympian Mary Allison Cook, offering practical tips and tricks for navigating life as a wheelchair user, and The Awesome Mary Show with Mary White, focused on spreading positivity and advocating for equal treatment for people with disabilities.

During COVID-19 lockdowns, our nationally recognized home workout video playlist, which provided expert advice for older adults, was featured in The New York Times. In addition to that playlist, we have collaborated with Coach Dave Geslak at Exercise Connection to promote exercise for children with autism and provide valuable resources for parents, caregivers, educators and therapists – and this video series is closing in on an incredible one million views.

The Autism Exercise video series started in 2015 because both Exercise Connection and NCHPAD wanted to provide evidence-based strategies so practitioners and caregivers could help their autistic clients or children in a variety of physical activity settings. At that time, there was not a lot of information available,” said Dave Geslak, Exercise Connection President and Founder. “Over the years, we have heard from people all over the world, and they say it is so valuable because we are not only sharing evidence-based strategies with field-based exercises but that the videos also involve individuals with autism.”

Lately, our video team has focused on content for our growing roster of health promotion programs, including videos on mindfulness, meditation and healthy, delicious recipes.

In late 2022, we launched NCHPAD Connect, revolutionizing how we connect individuals with disabilities to health promotion programs and personalized resources! NCHPAD Connect is our online portal housing a growing community of health promotion programs and resources for people with disability.

“We have people who have had their disability from birth or people who have gotten their disabilities from accidents or different situations in life,” said Marie Granucci, a participant in several NCHPAD Connect programs. “It’s nice to connect with other people and see things from broad perspectives, like how different people look at different parts of disabilities. No one is ‘woe is me’ or ‘what am I doing here?’”

NCHPAD Connect tackles health disparities head-on by providing comprehensive programs and resources specifically designed to support the health and wellness of people with disabilities and help prevent secondary conditions.

NCHPAD Connect tackles health disparities head-on by providing comprehensive programs and resources specifically designed to support the health and wellness of people with disabilities and help prevent secondary conditions.

“NCHPAD Connect provides information and options for ALL levels of ability and tailors the information to the recipients,” said Teresa White, program participant and assistant coach of a NCHPAD health promotion program. “This is something that I believe makes NCHPAD a unique and valuable resource for any individual with a physical disability.”

Each program focuses on holistic health and wellness, from diet and nutrition to evidence-based mindfulness and meditation, exercise, and more! Each year, there are new programs available through NCHPAD Connect, specially tailored to individual participant needs, goals and feedback.

“We see NCHPAD as a ‘disruptor’ in health and wellness,” said Dr. Rimmer. “We provide connection to every single area of health, from physical and mental health to emotional or spiritual health, which has been often neglected.”

“This connection includes building strong relationships, giving back to others and a versatile, evidence-based spiritual practice that connects the individual to a state of mind that induces peace, joy and love.”

Central to our success has been our collaboration with national healthcare partners, facilitating patient involvement and educating healthcare providers on the importance and impact of inclusive wellness initiatives. Since we started, we’ve made incredible strides in fostering partnerships and expanding our reach to thousands of individuals with disabilities nationwide.

“Our healthcare partners are vital to our success in reaching thousands of additional people across the country. We empower each provider with expert training and disability education that helps reduce medical ableism while increasing empathy and access to care,” said Tracy F. Tracy, NCHPAD Healthcare Inclusion Specialist. “This gives often overlooked or marginalized populations access to programs and resources that make a huge difference in overall health and wellness.”

Our healthcare partners are vital to our success in reaching thousands of additional people across the country. We empower each provider with expert training and disability education that helps reduce medical ableism while increasing empathy and access to care.

Our collaborative approach is deeply rooted in the belief that strategic partnerships are vital for the development and sustainability of community health inclusion.

“Spaulding Adaptive Sports Centers values partnering with NCHPAD; it enriches our programs by connecting us to like-minded organizations and rehabilitation hospitals on a national level, as well as strongly aligns with our four Pillars of Excellence: Education, Advocacy, Outreach and Research,” said Hayley Brown, Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist (CTRS) with Spaulding and MENTOR health coach. “More specifically, collaboration with the MENTOR Program supports ongoing resource development that is available to all our staff and clients.”

With over 60 national partners on board, including respected names like Ochsner Health, Craig Hospital, Spaulding Adaptive Sports Center, Health Choice Network, Methodist Rehabilitation, Alabama Department of Public Health, Motus Nova, OhioHealth and Cerebral Palsy Research Network, among others, we’re proud of the diverse network we’ve built and the impact we’re making together.

As we reflect on our journey these past 25 years, we’re grateful for the support of our partners and the opportunity to continue advancing inclusion and revolutionizing access to health and wellness. Here’s to many more years of collaboration and progress!

“I would like to end with a tribute to all the NCHPAD staff who joined us from 1999 to the present,” said Dr. Rimmer. “It’s been a joyful 25 years meeting all of these wonderful and dedicated staff and watching them grow into careers that are addressing a tremendous need in our society – inclusion and acceptance.”

Looking ahead, NCHPAD is expanding on our important work of the last 25 years to reach more of the millions of Americans with disabilities. Thanks to our Data Coordinating Center (DCC) and Evaluation and Performance Measurement Team, we are refining and personalizing programs and resources with even more precision.

Comprehensively capturing health behavior changes among our participants across the entire United States deepens our understanding of the multifaceted needs within the disability community. And this systematic data collection effort empowers us to rigorously evaluate the impact of our health promotion programs on participants’ health and quality of life outcomes and continue building evidence-based resources and practices for the disability community. We couldn’t be more excited about the future!

Whether you need a health promotion program, inclusive resource, partnership, educational resource or simply a community to interact with, NCHPAD has something for you. Connect with our team at nchpad@uab.edu or give us a call at 866-866-8896.

United Spinal Association logo overlaying an orange background

When did United Spinal start?

We proudly trace our roots to the paralyzed World War II vets who came home to an inaccessible nation and made it their new mission to create a fully inclusive society. This article in our membership magazine New Mobility tells more about our history (Link).

What are your goals or mission?

Our Mission:

Empower and advocate for people with SCI/D and all wheelchair users to achieve their highest quality of life.

 Our Vision:

A world where people with SCI/D and all wheelchair users can realize their full potential and live life at its fullest.

Where are you located?

Although our office is in Kew Gardens, NY, we are almost all completely remote, with coworkers living in every region of the United States.

How many employees do you have?

We have close to 50 employees.

What do you all do?

We work tirelessly to improve the quality of life for wheelchair users, their families, caregivers and clinicians.

Tell us a success story. What would you like us to highlight or share about your organization?

Our organization is truly holistic when it comes to improving the lives of wheelchair users. From our advocacy efforts to improve air travel for wheelchair users to our direct aid for those impacted by natural disasters to the individual lives enriched by being involved in a peer support group, we’re here for our members how and where they need us.

When did United Spinal and NCHPAD start working together? What do you all hope to gain (or for your participants to gain) from this partnership?

I believe this is a new partnership. I look forward to presenting our members with more resources to help them become more active so they live long and healthy lives.

Tell us about your resources. Do you have a current resource campaign you’d like to highlight? What resources have been the most successful or important to you all?

Our Resource Center provides one-on-one service to wheelchair users seeking support on any aspect of life with a mobility disability, from rehab-related advice to help finding housing, personal assistance, and everything else wheelchair users need for a good life.

What are some resources or services you provide that people may not know about?

Our Advocacy Working Groups are wonderful. They provide practical resources in addition to systems change advocacy. Sign up for them here: (Link).

Image on the left with members of NCHPAD at the International Day of Persons with Disabilities celebration at UAB. The right side of the graphic has the NCHPAD logo and the words International Day of Persons with Disabilities

What is the International Day of Persons with Disabilities?

The International Day of Persons with Disabilities (IDPD) is an annual international observance on December 3 that was started in 1992 by the United Nations (UN). According to the UN,

It aims to promote the rights and well-being of persons with disabilities in all spheres of society and development, and to increase awareness of the situation of persons with disabilities in every aspect of political, social, economic and cultural life.

Each year the day focuses on a different message or theme. The 2023 theme is “United in action to rescue and achieve the SDGs for, with and by persons with disabilities.

What are SDGs? SDGs are Sustainable Development Goals. According to the UN, SDGs are not on track to reach targets for the 2030 agenda, but there is a renewed commitment by world leaders to achieve shared prosperity and sustainable development for all. 

Why is this Important?

When inclusion barriers exist for people with disabilities, our society is not progressing. IDPD aims to remove those barriers and empower individuals with disabilities. When everyone is able to participate, our communities, countries and world can benefit. 

“On this important day, I call on the world to work side-by-side with persons with disabilities to design and deliver solutions based on equal rights in every country and community,” said UN Secretary General António Guterres.

How the NCHPAD Team is Celebrating and How You can Celebrate

Members of NCHPAD attended the 2nd Annual International Day of Persons with Disabilities Celebration on the campus of the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) on Friday, December 1. The event was hosted by NCHPAD’s own Dr. Robin Lanzi and her team at the Inclusive Well-Being Translational Science Collaborative.

A keynote address by Dr. Graham Sisson, Executive Director of the Alabama Governor’s Office on Disability, was followed by a panel discussion on disability health and well-being from several respected public health professionals.

“Health inequities occur because of a lack of information and lack of awareness. Today is about bringing awareness to that issue,” said Dr. Sisson. “Regulations and laws make a difference, but the real change occurs when we change attitudes.”

“Despite barriers and the need for improvement, there is still hope.”

There are many ways you can celebrate IDPD in your personal or professional life. 

  • Attend or host a disability awareness training session to embrace an inclusive culture. 
  • Donate to disability charities.
  • Attend or host an event with a disability awareness speaker.
  • Make a statement of support.
  • Advocate for better accessibility at common public places or in the workplace.
Photo of a man in white shirt showing phone to a man in a yellow sweatshirt on a graphic that says Caregiver Tips and Suggestions below it

By Bob Lujano, NCHPAD Expert Inclusion Specialist

Being a caregiver does not mean that you must now sacrifice your health. If you have recently added the responsibility of being a caregiver for a spouse, parent, or other family or friend, please take time to take care of your own health as well.

My wife has recently become the main caregiver of my mother-in-law, but I also share many of those same responsibilities. As a person with a disability, I also have some secondary health conditions, so it’s extremely important that I pay extra attention to my health – and my wife’s health as well.

Here are some ways that I stay healthy as a caregiver:  

Me time.

Once you have made the important decision to be a caregiver, make the same commitment to have some time for yourself. There is nothing wrong with having some ME time. It is this me time that can help you become a better caregiver.

Organization.

This first step is very important when you become a caregiver. Set up a daily schedule for caregiving, and schedule a time of day for meals, exercise, sleep and activities. This can help you stay organized in order to schedule that me time.  

Accountability person.

An accountability person is someone who can cover your responsibilities as a caregiver AND check in on you. Make sure you have a backup person who can take over your responsibilities, even if it’s just an hour or two! And have regular conversations with your accountability person ensure that you are taking care of yourself.

I am that accountability person for my wife. I help her out by preparing meals and taking her to dinner. I also encourage her to take time for herself while I take care of her mother. We also play tennis and go swimming together to get some exercise and de-stress from work.

Sleep and rest.

If you have taken care of young children, do you remember the suggestion of sleeping when the child sleeps? I definitely do! This is a good suggestion for caregivers, too. There’s nothing wrong with scheduling your own sleep, naps and rest time along with the person you are providing care for. Artificial intelligence (AI) devices such as an Alexa can help with scheduling naps and activities. For people with disabilities, these devices are accessible and voice-activated.

Your health is just as important! Follow these tips and learn more about additional caregiver resources below!

Additional Caregiver Resources

NCHPAD Connect links you to free resources, communities and wellness programs specifically tailored to people with a wide range of physical disabilities. Here’s what you should know.

NCHPAD Connect

NCHPAD Connect is a valuable resource that can help you and the person you are caring for to stay healthy and well.

  • Personalized resource recommendations: NCHPAD Connect can recommend health and wellness resources tailored to the specific needs of the person you care for. This can be a huge time-saver for caregivers, as it can be difficult to know where to start looking for inclusive health and wellness resources.
  • Free, online programs: NCHPAD Connect offers a variety of free health and wellness programs that focus on mindfulness, exercise, nutrition, diet and weight management. These programs can help caregivers and the people they care for to stay healthy and manage any secondary conditions.
  •  Expert Inclusion Specialists (EIS): NCHPAD Expert Inclusion Specialists (EIS), including Bob Lujano and Cara Riggins, provide access to free, personalized resources and programs to anyone who needs them! Learn more about Cara in our recent blog.

Additional Articles

Care for Caregivers 

https://www.nchpad.org/1635/6694/Care~for~the~Caregiver

Being a Caregiver 

https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/caregiving/being-a-caregiver

Stirring ingredients to make delicious soups, sauces and healthy meals can be easy with these tools and tips!

These universal tips and tools support safe and accessible food preparation while you are stirring in the kitchen. Watch the video below or keep reading to learn more:

  1. Accessible kitchen levels. Try to bring your bowl to a lower level. You could use a lower table or even your lap!
  2. Bowl stabilizer. A bowl stabilizer can go under any bowl to make it nonslip. Place the tool under the bowl to keep it steady while stirring.
  3. Automatic stirrer. Place an automatic stirrer in a pan or a pot and turn it on. It will be begin to automatically rotate!
  4. Hand mixer. A hand mixer, which is a hand-held blender with attachments, is optimized to whisk, mince, and in this case, shred!
  5. Immersion blender. An immersion blender can be used to whisk eggs, mix pancakes, or even puree soup! The head is interchangeable with attachments that can purée.
ADA Header

The Americans with Disabilities Act or ADA was a huge win for human rights. It bans discrimination against people with disabilities across all public areas of life, including jobs, schools, transportation, restaurants and more. This law was only passed in 1990, but it’s set the groundwork for future social changes regarding access.

And every July is an opportunity to reflect on the history that got us here and assess the work that’s still necessary. Watch our video we created in 2021 to commemorate the 31st anniversary of the passage of the ADA – or keep reading below to learn more.

Three important milestones have happened since the ADA passed on July 26, 1990.

The first is the 1990 Capitol Crawl. At this point, the ADA had passed the Senate but stalled for several months with a congressional committee. Thousands of fed-up activists gathered outside of the Capitol building to begin their protest with the Wheels of Justice Campaign.

People left their walkers, wheelchairs and crutches to crawl the 78 marble stairs of the U.S. Capitol’s west front. The following day, over 100 people were arrested for refusing to leave. This protest brought attention, political, pressure and urgency for the signing of the ADA, which passed four months later.

The next milestone was the Olmstead Act in 1999. Two women with mental illness and developmental disabilities were professionally deemed fit to transition from institutional state hospitals to a community-based program. Community care would provide better support in addition to daily living skills. In this case, and many cases like this, the transition was indefinitely postponed, and the women remained in hospitals for several years after the request. After a lawsuit was filed under the ADA, the women were eventually placed in community care.

Forcing a person to remain in an institution when community care is more appropriate was now legally considered discriminatory, unjustified segregation – and a violation of civil rights. This Supreme Court decision broadened the ADA to include mental illness as a disability. That now meant protecting rights, freeing thousands and allowing a healthier alternative for families in need of assistance.

The third milestone occurred with the ADA Amendments Act of 2008. There were many cases where the Supreme Court limited who could identify as a person with a disability under the ADA. This left many people legally unprotected and exposed to discrimination. After years of cases like these, disability and business communities joined to work on the language for a new standard. The clarified laws were introduced in July and signed by September. These amendments restored legal intent and pushed to further submit Congress’s stance. It
made disability much more inclusive and now protects a lot more people.

The hope is that our laws will continue to evolve and support the rights of all people with disabilities at every intersection.

Want to learn even more? Check out our video playlist from the ADA’s 25th anniversary.