En Español

For science.
About 26% of U.S. adults have a disability, though Native Americans and senior citizens are disproportionately affected by disabilities. Adults with disabilities are also more likely to have heart disease, be smokers and have diabetes than the general population.

Black and African American people are projected to face more health effects from climate change when compared to other demographic groups. A warming of just 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) will be impactful, with Black and African American individuals 34% more likely to live in communities projected to experience the highest increases in childhood asthma. They are also 40% more likely to live in areas with the highest-projected increases in deaths related to extreme temperatures. The effects of health on climate are also disproportionately felt by Hispanic populations, which are often more active in work that exposes them to weather, such as agriculture.

For action.
Doctors’ offices can provide health information and resources in multiple languages for people whose primary language is not English. Interpretation services may be used. In recognition of the need for more Spanish-language resources, APHA is making National Public Health Week fact sheets and shareables and our toolkit available in Spanish this year.

Urge your representatives in government to strengthen public health infrastructure to protect access to health care. Political decisions can affect climate change, which can limit access to food and clean water. Encourage representatives to support the Justice40 Initiative, a federal program working to secure at least 40% of climate and clean energy investment benefits for historically disadvantaged communities. You can also urge congressional representatives to ensure access to gender-affirming care for youth, which is in jeopardy in some states.

For health.
To move toward health equity, it’s critical we recognize that people with disabilities are facing health disparities. One in three adults with disabilities does not have a primary health care provider, and one in three adults with disabilities has unmet health care needs due to financial cost. Since the passing of the Affordable Care Act, uninsured rates have decreased. In 2008, 83.2% of people under the age of 65 reported having medical insurance, but by 2020, the percentage of people with insurance coverage was 91.4. Early intervention for hearing loss among young children is proven to help with their language development.

Improving access to nutritious food — particularly in areas with limited access to fresh produce — has been linked to improving overall health and eating habits. For example, when a mobile farmers market was introduced to a low-income community in Michigan in 2014, residents reported eating more fruits and vegetables since they were more accessible. The initiative has grown in the years since it was launched and five convenience stores in that neighborhood now provide fresh produce, with more collaborations being planned.

In celebration.
Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, signed into law in 1973, was the first federal civil rights protection for people with disabilities from discrimination. However, it wasn’t until 1977 that regulations were published and signed, spurred by the activism in 1977 of 504 sit-ins, peaceful demonstrations which underscored the demand for federal regulations to enforce Section 504. The longest 504 sit-in was held at the San Francisco federal building and lasting 26 days. Protests against the Dakota Access Pipeline, led by indigenous communities, secured the rights guaranteed to sovereign nations to their own reservation lands, protecting the health and safety of their communities. And after the fall of Roe v. Wade, voters in Michigan, Kentucky, California and Vermont ensured access to abortion care within their states. Efforts to protect care to essential health services were led by reproductive justice groups centering Black women – who are more likely to be harmed by abortion restrictions.

Even the wins that seem small are important. When a resident of a city in West Virginia requested the city council upgrade sidewalks to improve pedestrian and wheelchair access to nearby shopping, the city listened. In 2022 the state government recognized the need for access to transportation and awarded the same city more than $1 million in grant funding to improve sidewalks throughout the city.

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American Public Health Association