On the home page of the United Cerebral Palsy website, UCP.org, a picture of a young girl is posted. Her facial bis carefree and hopeful. Immediately above her, UCP’s logo is accompanies by the text: “Life without limits for people with disabilities.”
United Cerebral Palsy aims to remove barriers to success for people with disabilities. UCP started in 1949 in response to needs of parents of children with Cerebral Palsy by creating a network for information and resources.
Beyond Cerebral Palsy, UCP serves people with Down Syndrome, Autism Spectrum Disorder and physical and mental disabilities. The organization works with over 100 other affiliates to provide services such as housing, help finding a job, technology training and family support.
United Cerebral Palsy is a civil rights movement for those with disabilities. UCP does this by ensuring the basic human right of opportunity and equal living standards through expansive networks and lobbying Congress. UCP is uniting people and organizations to give a greater voice to the disabled.
This year, UCP released “The Case for Inclusion,” which tracks progress in providing care and opportunities for the disabled. Only 15 states make support services for families with a disabled member available for at least 200 families of 100,000.
Case for Inclusion also provides rankings of states based on providing support for people with disabilities and their families. In 2014, Arizona, Michigan and Hawaii ranked in the top three. Virginia, Texas and Mississippi ranked last.
Poverty and disability are closely related. Worldwide, one billion people, over 10 percent of the world’s population, live with a disability. Around 80 percent of disabled people live in developing countries, with around 20 percent of disabled people in these countries living in poverty.
Oftentimes, lack of services provided to people with disabilities results in limited access to basic necessities, healthcare, education, employment and political participation.
The World Health Organization states that disability is both a cause and a consequence of poverty. Lack of healthcare and limited nutrition contribute to disabilities created by poverty.
According to the WHO,” Poverty may lead to the onset of health conditions associated with disability including through: low birth weight, malnutrition, lack of clean water or adequate sanitation, unsafe work and living conditions, and injury.” For instance, 20 million women become disabled because of pregnancy and childbirth complications.
Many disabled people rely on a full-time caretaker. Most often, this caretaker is an immediate family member, so along with the disabled person, two members of the household do not receive a regular income. Disability also comes with extra healthcare costs and limited access to education and employment.
With the missing income and additional cost, poverty persists.
Beyond the U.S., disabled people lack the same network that United Cerebral Palsy provides for them and their families in the U.S. Giving a voice to the disabled and improving their quality of life plays a significant role in reducing global poverty, as a significant number of impoverished are disabled.
– Tara Wilson