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Disability

  • By: Laura L. Ellingson & Margaret M. Quinlan
  • In: Encyclopedia of Health Communication
  • Edited by: Teresa L. Thompson
  • Subject:Public Health Education & Health Promotion, Health Psychology, Health Communication

People with disabilities (PWD) are the fastest growing minority social group in the world. Moreover, this group is one in which many, if not all individuals, will eventually join due to accidents, injuries, illnesses, wear and tear on aging bodies, and genetic factors. Disabilities can be physical, cognitive, social, and/or emotional. The disability community overlaps with people of all races, ethnicities, age groups, genders, sexual orientations/expressions, and socioeconomic statuses, although PWD are overrepresented among people who are economically disadvantaged and underserved in health care, environmental safety, nutrition, and other basic needs. While the proportion of people with disabilities increases with age, the majority of people with disabilities remains under the age of 65.

The World Health Organization offers useful definitions to distinguish among terms commonly

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