Disability Rights

Definition: A disability is any condition of the body or mind that makes it more difficult for the person with the condition to do certain activities and interact with the world around them. Various disabilities may affect movement, cognition, mental health, or social relationships. Although “people with disabilities” sometimes refers to a single population, this is actually a diverse group of people with a wide range of needs, and some disabilities may be hidden or not easy to see (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention).

Why Is This Issue Important?

  • In 2017, the American Community Survey reported that 15% of North Carolina residents had disabilities (consensus.gov).
  • Those with disabilities are nearly 3 times as likely to be denied health care. 28% of insured people with disabilities reported needing therapies and equipment or medications that were not covered by their health plans, compared to 7% of those without disabilities (globalhealth.gov).
  • In 2016, the employment rate of working-age people (aged 21 to 64) with disabilities in North Carolina was 35% (disabilitystatistics.org).
  • There are over 1 billion people with disabilities in the world, of whom between 110-190 million experience very significant difficulties (World Report on Disability).

Opportunities for Involvement

Elon Buddies

Form friendships with Alamance Community College students with disabilities. Email elonbuddies@elon.edu for more information.

Special Olympics

Help host the annual Special Olympics of Alamance County event and assist athletes during sporting events. Email specialolympics@elon.edu for more information.

Animal Therapy at Kopper Top

Assist with animal care, education, and recreation therapy in a therapeutic environment. Help promote physical, cognitive, emotional and psychological health. Email koppertop@elon.edu for more information.

Sampling Of Elon Courses Related To This Issue

For more information on these courses listed, view the Elon Course Catalog.

  • Anthropology 325: Medical Anthropology
  • Biology 245: Principles of Genetics
  • Core 316: Growing Up – Coordinating Complex Systems
  • Economics 320: Health Economics
  • Education 451: Teaching Diverse Learners
  • Education 455: Early Childhood Exceptionality
  • Human Service Studies 115: American Sign Language and Deaf Culture I
  • Human Service Studies 326: Special Populations in Human Services
  • Public Health Studies 201: Introduction to Public Health

Questions For Reflection

  • How have public perceptions of the term “disability” changed over time?
  • What current systems maintain or diminish problems surrounding disabilities and how could they be addressed?
  • How are people with visible disabilities treated differently than those with less visible disabilities?
  • How do you think disabilities are related to equity in educational or professional environments?
  • What is the best type of support you can give or the best way you could support your peers with disabilities?
  • Whose voice is missing in the conversation around disabilities and disability services?
  • How are individuals or groups working to address disability services locally, nationally, and globally?
  • How can you use the knowledge and skills you are gaining in college to participate in discussions around disability services?