Disability in the Latino Community

The views within the Latino community on disability are very similar across Latino groups. However, these views cannot be bundled together for the whole community. The views, perceptions, and approach to disability by the Latino community and by Latino individuals or families vary depending on many factors which include socio-economic status, country of origin, and living situation (urban vs. rural living). There are also very strong family bonds within the Latino community which can become a two-sided coin for people with disabilities: being taken care of vs. becoming independent.

With all this in mind, what happens to Latinos with disabilities within the US is dependent on many variables including acculturation, English proficiency, and where they live – along with the aforementioned cultural views on disability. “As a Latina who is blind, I have first-person experience with the low expectations and assumptions of the majority culture,” states Proyecto Visión project director and Assistant Secretary of Labor for the Office of Disability Employment Policy Kathy Martinez. “I have seen many disabled Latinos live down to these diminished expectations. They become overwhelmed by isolation, are disconnected from the service delivery system and don’t have disabled Latino professionals to look up to or network with. Unfortunately, even those who do access resources often are not receiving appropriate service.”

Within the US, the Latino disability community faces many barriers in finding services or programs that help. These barriers include language, networking, collaboration, and communication. To help the Latino disability community within the US, outreach and education programs are imperative that can provide information to families in reference to programs and opportunities available to them. Agencies need to include bilingual/bicultural professionals and it is important that these agencies and programs are in touch with the norms and cultural values of the population being served.

The following resources are just a few of those out there that provides services, information, or resources to Latinos with disabilities.

  • Proyecto Visión provides resources to the Latino disability community, including links for job searches, scholarships, internships, professional development and continuing education. They also include information on government and disability resources.
  • Medgadget en Español  provides information in Spanish on different types of technology for the disability community including assistive technology.
  • ABLEDATA provides information that is objective on assistive technology and rehabilitation equipment that is available from domestic and international sources. They provide the information on how to contact the manufacturers and distributors of these projects.
  • Remember that we here at NARIC also provide information and assistance: We are the library and repository for the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR). NARIC provides information, resources, and referrals in English and Spanish via phone, chat, and email.

About mpgarcia

I'm the Bilingual Information/Media Specialist at NARIC.
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