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NNLM Reading Club: Disability Health

Disability Health

One in 4 U.S. adults - 61 million Americans - has a disability that impacts major life activities. Some people are born with one, some people acquire one as a result of an illness or injury, and some people develop one or more as they age.


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Disability Impacts All of Us Infographic

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Library Programming

Get Everyone Reading

Facilitate a Next Chapter Book Club

The Next Chapter Book Club offers a unique community-based book club program for adolescents and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Learn how to participate in this program.

Read and discuss El Deafo

Blue book cover of El Deafo by Cece Bell

In this funny, poignant graphic novel memoir, author/illustrator Cece Bell chronicles her hearing loss at a young age and her subsequent experiences with the Phonic Ear, a very powerful—and very awkward—hearing aid. The Phonic Ear gives Cece the ability to hear—sometimes things she shouldn’t—but also isolates her from her classmates. She really just wants to fit in and find a true friend, someone who appreciates her as she is. After some trouble, she is finally able to harness the power of the Phonic Ear and become “El Deafo, Listener for All.” And more importantly, declare a place for herself in the world and find the friend she’s longed for.

A 2015 Newbery Honor Book and New York Times Bestseller

El Deafo | Cece Bell | Harry N Abrams Publisher | 2014 | 248 pages | ISBN: 978-1419712173 | Grade Level: 3-7 | Discussion Guide

There's an NIH for that ... and more

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has been involved in disability and health activities since 1988. The mission of the CDC Disability and Health Branch is to promote the health and full participation in society by people with disabilities across the lifespan.

The Veterans Health Administration is America's largest integrated health care system, providing care and research to 9 million enrolled veterans at 1,250 health care facilities. Use its publications website to find posters and brochures. If you are a veteran who has a serious injury or chronic condition and are in need of caregiver support, use Find your Caregiver Support Coordinator.  The VA Center for Limb Loss and MoBolity (CLiMB) is a research group focused on preserving and enhancing mobility in Veterans and others with foot and leg impairments or amputations. It currently is recruiting volunteers to participate in a 2-year research study to see if using a Fitbit pedometer and an online peer group changes how much people with a lower limb amputation walk.

The Amputee Coalition, the nation's leading organization on limb loss, is dedicated to enhancing the quality of life for amputees and their families, improving patient care, and preventing limb loss. The Limb Loss Resource Center is an excellent place to locate services, ask questions, and order publications in both English and Spanish.

The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke is the leading NIH research center for finding effective approaches to halt the progression of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) disease. The ALS Association advocates for and empowers people affected by ALS to live their lives to the fullest.

The Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Department (NICHD) ensures that every person is born healthy and wanted, that women suffer no harmful effects from reproductive processes and that all children have the chance to achieve their full potential for healthy and productive lives. The institute also aims to ensure the health, productivity, independence, and well-being of people through optimal rehabilitation.

The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR) has several publications for download concerning oral care for persons with developmental disabilities.

A disability may limit what you can do physically or mentally or it can affect your senses making it harder to do normal daily activities; however, mobility aids and assistive devices can make tasks easier and help people engage whether at work, school, or home. The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) is the primary NIH organization for research on Assistive Devices. Assistive devices are tools, products, or types of equipment that help you perform tasks and activities. They may help you move around, see, communicate, eat, or get dressed. Some are high-tech tools, such as computers. Others are much simpler, such as a "reacher," a tool that helps you grab an object you can't reach.

Developmental Disorders

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is considered a "developmental disorder" because symptoms generally appear in the first years of life. It also is known as a “spectrum” because there is wide variation in the type and severity of symptoms people experience. ASD occurs in all ethnic, racial, and economic groups. Although ASD can be a lifelong disorder, treatments and services can improve a person’s symptoms and ability to function. To learn more, download the National Institute of Mental Health Autism Spectrum Disorder publication, available in English and Spanish.


CDCs Milestone tracker appIf you are a parent or caregiver, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) provides free materials for download including an app to help track your child's developmental milestones and to find guidance for intervention.

Invisible Disabilities

Disabilities are not always physical nor visible. Learning and reading disorders, as well as mental health conditions such as post-traumatic stress, anxiety, and eating disorders, are disabilities not always readily seen. Recognizing and understanding hidden disabilities is important to respectful engagement.