According to the Disability Funders Network, more than 20 million out of the United States' 69.6 million families have at least one family member who has a disability. The impacts of disability include economic, political, psychological and social factors. Specifically, social impacts are those consequences of disability that are experienced at the individual, family and community level. These include poverty, issues of access as well as social exclusion. These social impacts further affect how individuals and communities cope with disability.
Families living and caring for a person with disability experience both positive and negative impacts. Disability can bring about a sense of cohesion and closeness within the family and community as awareness on how to cope with disability increases. But disability can also be a source of family strain between spouses and also between parents and children. According to the Medscape website, families with special-needs children are predisposed to divorce and tension because of the psychological and emotional strains that disability can bring about.
Risk of Poverty
According to a study by Tania Burchardt of the London School of Economics, disability increases the risk of a person's slide into poverty. Results from this research indicate that 14 percent of those studied and had a disability slid into poverty. Families or individuals with disability slid into poverty twice as fast as those that had not experienced a disability. Poverty as a social impact of disability is mainly due to a loss of paid employment. Even though there are provisions against discrimination such as the Americans with Disabilities Act, many disabled people still have difficulty gaining meaningful employment.
Social exclusion as a result of disability means a lack of belonging in a given social context. A person with disability may face limitations in interacting with colleagues at work, fellow students and also family members. This may be as a result of his pushing these people away or from the stereotypes and societal attitudes toward disability. The impact of exclusion is that a person with disability may lack social support and social skills, such as communication, to cope with the disability.
Society still holds biased stereotypes toward people with disability. The social mode of disability indicates that the problem is with society's attitude toward disability and not with the person with disability. There are increased efforts to ensure that people with disability can easily access education, employment and social amenities. But the impact of this is that it has resulted in the provision of segregated services for those with disability and those without disability. According to the social model of disability, this segregation of services and limitation to access is not helpful for people with disability. It is also not helpful in eradicating stereotypes and discrimination.
- Medscape Today: Impact of Child Disability on the Family: Implications for The Family; Nancy E. Reichman, Hope Corman and Kelly Noonan
- Joseph Rowntree Foundation: Social Exclusion and the Onset of Disability; Jane Dickson; December 19th 2003;
- Disability Action in Islington: Social Model of Disability
Alexa Josphine began her writing career in 2005. Her work has appeared in the monthly publication "DRUM" magazine, among other publications. Josphine is pursuing her master's degree in journalism from Daystar University in Nairobi, Kenya.