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Individuals with Disabilities

A disability is an impairment that may be cognitive, developmental, intellectual, mental, physical, sensory, or some combination of these. It substantially affects a person's life activities and may be present from birth or occur during a person's lifetime. Disability is an umbrella term, covering impairments, activity limitations, and participation restrictions. An impairment is a problem in body function or structure; an activity limitation is a difficulty encountered by an individual in executing a task or action; while a participation restriction is a problem experienced by an individual in involvement in life situations. Disability is thus not just a health problem. It is a complex phenomenon, reflecting the interaction between features of a person’s body and features of the society in which he or she lives.

Paralysis Resources

Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation
The Reeve Foundation is dedicated to curing spinal cord injury by funding innovative research, and improving the quality of life for people living with paralysis through grants, information and advocacy. The foundation operates the Paralysis Resource Center (PRC) funded through a cooperative agreement with the US Department of Health and Human Service’s Administration for Community Living program. The PRC provides information to empower those affected by paralysis with knowledge, resources, and support.

Webinar: Exploring the Resources and Supports of the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation's Paralysis Resource Center

View the slides PDF or PowerPoint.

This webinar introduced participants to the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation’s Paralysis Resource Center (PRC), a comprehensive national source of free information, services and programs for individuals with paralysis and their families and caregivers. The PRC provides information on paralysis caused by any condition, including spinal cord injury, stroke, multiple sclerosis, spina bifida, traumatic brain injury, and cerebral palsy. 

Participants heard about the PRC’s Information Specialists, who are available to answer questions about living with paralysis and assist with locating resources, and the Peer & Family Support Program, a national mentoring program for people living with paralysis and their family members. The written materials available through the PRC were discussed as well as the resources available on the Reeve Foundation’s website. The PRC’s Military & Veterans Program, national lending library and online community will also be highlighted. 

Assistive Technology

Assistive technology (AT) is a term that includes assistive, adaptive, and rehabilitative devices for people with disabilities and is used to maintain or improve the independence and function of people with disabilities and seniors, in education, employment, recreation, and daily living activities. AT promotes greater independence by enabling people to perform tasks that they were formerly unable to accomplish, or had great difficulty accomplishing, by providing enhancements to, or changing methods of interacting with, the technology needed to accomplish such tasks. Due to assistive technology, people with disabilities have an opportunity of a more positive and easygoing lifestyle, with an increase in "social participation," "security and control," and a greater chance to "reduce institutional costs without significantly increasing household expenses." AT devices can be “low tech” like a built-up handle on a spoon to improve the ability to grasp, to “high tech” computers controlled with eye blinks. 

ACL Website on Assistive Technology
ACL's Center for Integrated Programs, Office of Consumer Access and Self-Determination, oversees the State Grant for Assistive Technology Program and the Assistive Technology National Activities funded under the Assistive Technology Act of 1998.

Assistive Technology Training Center
The National Assistive Technology Act Technical Assistance and Training (AT3) Center is your one-stop connection to resources about the Assistive Technology Act, State Assistive Technology Programs, and general assistive technology information.

Additional Resources

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Website
Since the Americans with Disabilities Act was enacted in 1990, many social barriers have been removed or reduced for people with disabilities. But there is more work that needs to be done for people with disabilities to become more independent and involved in their world. Good health is important to be able to work, learn, and be engaged within a community. This web page provides information for people with disabilities about healthy living, safety, school, transitions, independent living, and finding support.

ACL Administration on Disabilities Website
The Administration on Disabilities works with states, communities, and partners in the disability networks to increase the independence, productivity, and community integration of individuals with disabilities. Under authorities provided by the Developmental Disabilities Act (DD Act), the Rehabilitation Act, the Help America Vote Act, the Assistive Technology Act of 1998, and the Public Health Service Act, the AoD works to improve opportunities for people with disabilities to access quality services and supports, achieve economic self-sufficiency, and experience equality and inclusion in all facets of community life.


Ombudsman Program Examples

View Ombudsman program examples on individuals with disabilities


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