We are in the prime of Hispanic Heritage Month (Sept 15- Oct 15) and what better time to address issues involving disabilities within the Hispanic community. The Hispanic culture is lauded for its passion and strong ties within la familia. Family is very important within Latino culture and family members believe that it is their responsibility to take care of one another. However, this can conflict with a family member’s desire to live independently, especially if that person is living with a disability. While having a strong family bond may provide a valuable support system, there is a risk that caregivers may become over-protective: limiting independence, removing self-reliance, and restricting their loved-one’s ability to fully participate in their community.
Understanding disabilities is an ongoing process for everyone, including those living with disabilities. Advocacy groups such as AccessLiving.org provide support and education to help those with disabilities and their family members recognize that living with a disability does not make you disabled. Latinos with disabilities should consider themselves full and equal members of society, as such, should seek to have the confidence and opportunities to have a voice in decisions that affect them. Check out Access Living’s Latinos with Disabilities page to get more information on outreach efforts within the Latino community.