ATLANTA, July 23 /PRNewswire/ -- Just days before the 20th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, a new
According to the survey commissioned by the Georgia Council on Developmental Disabilities (GCDD), only one-third of Georgia's general public come across or interact with persons with developmental disabilities in their everyday life (33 percent), even if they or a family member has a disability (44 percent). Further, most (nearly 38 percent) said when they do encounter a person with a disability, they immediately feel sympathetic about the difficulties that person must experience on a daily basis. However, the survey also reveals that the general public isn't really aware of what those difficulties are. Respondents cited prejudice, discrimination, lack of acceptance, fear and stigma as the top issues persons with developmental disabilities face when trying to participate fully in community life. While participants representing the disabilities community agreed, they also ranked practical and survival issues such as accessibility, needed supports to live independently, job opportunities and finances as difficulties experienced in everyday living in landslide margins.
"This survey reveals that persons with developmental disabilities and their issues are still somewhat invisible to everyday society," said Eric Jacobson, executive director, GCDD. "Although, we have made progress as a result of the Americans with Disabilities Act, there is still a lot of education to be done among the general public; and the best way for that to happen is to create a society that better integrates persons with disabilities in our schools, workforce and community. Understanding comes through exposure and awareness. The Georgia Council on Developmental Disabilities is committed to achieving this goal through public policy, advocacy, programs and public information."
The research is the first statewide survey of its kind conducted by GCDD. The objective of the study was to explore the perceptions, attitudes and awareness of developmental disabilities issues among the general public and contrast it to the opinions of those living with and impacted by the challenges on a daily basis. The study identifies representatives of the disabilities community as individuals with developmental disabilities and their families, as well as members of grassroots advocacy organizations and providers of services.
Attitudes About Capabilities of Persons with Disabilities in Everyday Society
A majority of all survey respondents (55 percent of the general public and 78 percent of disabilities community participants) agreed that adults with disabilities should be able to live on their own with supports and services and not in institutions. However, the general public wasn't as confident in the ability of people with developmental disabilities to achieve career success or a child with disabilities' adjustment to learning in a traditional classroom.
"A stigma still exists among the general public and their views of the abilities, and perceived limitations, of persons with developmental disabilities. We have a firm belief and confidence that persons with disabilities can and should participate fully in real communities – enjoying real careers, living in real homes, learning in real environments, exerting real influence and receive real supports as needed. These are people that can contribute to society," Jacobson said.
What is a Developmental Disability?
The survey also revealed a lack of clear understanding of what conditions could be classified as a developmental disability. While developmental disabilities can be mental and/or physical, most did not associate the term with physical disabilities or impairments.
The Georgia Council on Developmental Disabilities defines a developmental disability as "a chronic mental and/or physical disability that occurs before age 22 and expected to last a lifetime. It may require supports in three or more of the following life activities: self-care, learning, mobility, self-direction, independent living and economic self-sufficiency."
The GCDD study on perceptions on developmental disabilities was conducted via telephone and online surveys among residents of Georgia, individuals living with developmental disabilities and their families, members of advocacy organizations and service providers who work directly with disabilities. The sample to survey participants from the disabilities community was derived from subscribers to GCDD's statewide list-serv database. The sample for the general public was a random sample among Georgia residents. The total sample size was 379. Respondents were: state residents; 18 years or older; male or female and registered voters. There is a plus or minus 5 percentage point margin of error for the overall sample.
About the Georgia Council on Developmental Disabilities
GCDD is a federally funded, independent state agency which collaborates with citizens, public and private advocacy organizations and policy makers to positively influence public policies that enhance the quality of life for persons with developmental disabilities and their families.
SOURCE Georgia Council on Developmental Disabilities
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