October 31st, 2006
People with disabilities as part of the diversity picture
By Beth Haller
When most reporters think of diversity, they think of ethnic groups, racial groups, or even sexual orientation groups. However, people with physical and mental disabilities are the largest group of people in a diversity category, accounting for about 20 percent of the U.S. population, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Like other societal groups, they have been advocating to stop discrimination against them and to achieve greater civil rights since the 1960s.
The social change that disability rights groups have fostered has implications for the rapidly aging U.S. population as well, many of whom will likely develop a disabling condition as they age. A researcher for the Newspaper Association of America said in 2002: “The adult population (is) more age-diverse. In 1960, very few people were over the age of 65; today, still fewer than one in six adults is over 65. By 2030, individuals older than 65 will make up more than 30 percent of the adults in this country—and half of these senior citizens will be older than 75.” You can see the full report at: Sullivan, D. (2002). A Tidal Wave of Change in Our Nation’s Communities. Newspaper Association of America Growth Opportunities Leveraging Diversity Network. http://www.naa.org/diversity/gold/press/wave_of_change.html