Disabled People in New York and Challenges They Face


Disabilities, whether physical or mental ones, affect people’s lives to a notable extent, reducing life satisfaction and causing discomfort. Presently, in New York, 3,725,215 disabled people, which constitutes around 255 of the entire population of the state, have some form of disability (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2021). In New York adults, several types of disabilities can be observed. These are disabilities related to mobility (13%), cognition impairments (10%), issues related to independent living (7%), hearing impairments (5%), loss of sight (5%), and inability of self-care (4%).

Current Situation: Legal Standards

Despite the protection offered by the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), many people with disabilities in the U.S. still face prejudices quite often (Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, 1990). The phenomenon of discriminating against people with disabilities is known as ableism (Dirth & Branscombe, 2019). Ableism comes in many forms, and examples, causing people with disabilities significant distress and reducing the quality of their lives. Discrimination in the workplace has been one of the prevalent types of ableism according to the interviews conducted with five New Yorkers with disabilities. For example, all of the respondents mentioned having been refused a job due to their disability. As a result, employee with disabilities often have a low quality of life and may face the threat of poverty.

Rationale for Theme Selection

The main rationale for selecting people with disabilities as the focus of my interview concerned the experience of discomfort and embarrassment that I have always experienced whenever talking to the specified segment of the population. Although I do not feel in any way tat them having certain disabilities makes them lesser human beings, I am still profoundly confused during interactions with disabled people. It could be supposed that the feeling of unease comes from the inability to select the correct behavior and attitude, namely, the choice between sympathizing people with disabilities and ignoring their health issues for the sake of politeness.

Insights from the Interviews

Instances of ableism also occur in the context of personal life of disabled individuals. The interviews with the disabled citizens of New York has shown that the specified situations also affect the quality of their lives. For example, the services that do not provide access to people with disabilities have been some of the major signs of ableist attitudes toward people in some companies. In addition, the implicit perception of citizens with disabilities as lesser people has been a major issue, as the interviewees report.

Changes in Personal Perceptions: First Stage

The first stage of the interview was marked with the experience of hesitation and the feeling of unease. Since the issue of disability is rarely discussed in great nuance in general settings, it is difficult to pick the attitude and behavior that will not seem biased. However, as the conversation continued, the feeling of embarrassment changed to that one of connection with the interviewees. As they shared their experiences, it became increasingly easy to understand their needs and relate to them closely. Finally, the feeling of empathy developed along with the sense of connection.

Changes in Personal Perceptions: Second Stage

However, as the interview developed, the participants made it clear that constant pity that they encountered whenever they spoke to other community members was not quite useful in their emotional well-being. Instead, the need for recognizing them as valid members of the community was pronounced proudly, which made me feel not only compassion but also increasing respect to the interviewees. The participants claimed unequivocally that they preferred to be viewed as differently abled rather than disabled. Thus, my perspective on the subject matter changed drastically.

Reaction to the Interviews

The first reaction to the experiences described by the interviewees involved the feeling of empathy and profound sadness due to the imperfections of the present-day community. Even though the description of difficulties in navigating he present-day environment and the relationships in the modern community were to be expected, the interview still left a clear sense of sadness and compassion.

Change in the Topic Perception

However, as the narrative evolved, it became obvious that people with disabilities are unwilling to be seen as victims or those with impairments. Instead, they want to be regarded as functioning and important part of the community. Instead of others imagining them as unfit for the realities of the modern world, people with impairments want others to recognize the need to introduce changes that would allow all people, including those with disabilities and those without, to enjoy life to equal extent. The observed changes in my attitude are consistent with some of the recent publications on the emotional needs of people with disabilities (Casado & Casaú, 2019; DeRuyter et al., 2018).

Outcomes of the Interviews

Overall, my knowledge about the needs of people with disabilities, as well as the challenges that they experience both in professional contexts and in day-to-day life, has expanded to a large extent. Specifically, I have learned what treatment people with disabilities actually expect form others, as well as what mistakes others typically do when communicating with the disabled. As a result, the sense of internal discomfort that I used to experience when talking to people with disabilities has subsided to a certain extent. Although I still have a lot of personal growth to do, I realize what people with disabilities expect from others and, therefore, I am ready to act in kind. Therefore, the conversation was quite enlightening.


The interviews with the target population have allowed me to reconcile with my personal biases toward people with disabilities and the intense feeling of unease that I used to have when communicating with them. Now that I am fully aware of the challenges that people with disabilities face when performing the actions that have become a part of my routine, I feel immense respect for them for their courage and resilience. However, I have also learned that most people with disabilities do not want to be singled out due to their health issues but, instead, want to be regarded as equally important members of the community with equally high potential. Therefore, I have learned crucial information about treating people with disabilities in the way that will make both them and me feel comfortable and enjoy our communication.


Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. (1990). Web.

Casado, A. B. F., & Casaú, P. M. (2019). Personal self-knowledge, a key factor for entrepreneurship in people with disabilities. Journal of Entrepreneurship Education, 22, 1-6. Web.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2021). Disability & health U.S. state profile data for New York (Adults 18+ years of age). Web.

DeRuyter, F., Jones, M., & Morris, J. (2018). Mobile health apps and needs of people with disabilities: a national survey. Journal of Technology and Persons with Disabilities, 2018, 149-161. Web.

Dirth, T. P., & Branscombe, N. R. (2019). Recognizing ableism: A social identity analysis of disabled people perceiving discrimination as illegitimate. Journal of Social Issues, 75(3), 786-813. Web.

U.S. Department of Justice. (1990). A guide to disability rights laws. Web.

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