If You Liked… Disability in the Latino Community

For Hispanic Heritage Month, NARIC’s information specialists wanted to look at how the view of disability within the Latino, now called Latinx, community has begun to change. In some circles, our information specialists have observed that the view of disability is shifting from seeing disability as shameful and that people with disabilities must be hidden, to a more open and supportive view of disability, where disability is not shameful and people with disabilities are not hidden from the community. Researchers in Spanish-speaking countries are just starting to study attitudes towards people with disabilities in their communities, like this study from Mexico. There is still room for improvement but, overall, more Latinx with disabilities are living independently, participating in their communities, asking for the resources that they need, and advocating for themselves with the support of their families and their communities.

In the ten years since NARIC published Disability in the Latino Community in its Spotlight blog, service providers have begun learning about and are starting to provide services that are culturally aware. Research about disability in the Latinx community continues to increase, including on the intersection of disability, race, ethnicity, and sexuality, among others. The number of organizations in the US and in Latin American countries that provide services and support specifically to Latinx with disabilities is growing exponentially and the amount of information and resources in Spanish and other Latin American languages continues to grow every year.

For example, the mental health crisis in the Latinx community is prompting a push for accessible treatment. According to research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 40.3% Latinx people experienced symptoms of depression. They also face barriers to treatment, such as language barriers, a lack of insurance, and service providers who may not provide culturally competent services. To help combat the mental health crisis in the Latinx community, celebrities like Selena Gomez and J Balvin have created platforms to help their communities, and therapists like Jacqueline Garcia create TikTok videos to help promote candid conversations about mental health within the Latinx community.

NIDILRR continues to fund research related to disability, rehabilitation, and independent living, including research that includes the Latinx disability community. This includes projects that research and develop interventions, services, consumer-friendly informational products (in Spanish), and more to meet the needs of the Latinx with disabilities community, including:

  1. The National Research Center for Parents with Disabilities conducts research and provides training and technical assistance to improve the lives of parents with disabilities and their families, including racial and ethnic minority parents. The Center provides targeted recommendations for evidence-informed policies and programs, improved family functioning and support, and improved child welfare outcomes for parents with disabilities and their families. This Center’s website, which is also available in Spanish, is a comprehensive accessible online hub, with training, technical assistance, and dissemination materials in English and Spanish.
  2. The project Promoting Obesity Prevention Among Latinx Children with Developmental Disabilities and Families Through Engaged Research (PODER) addresses the gap in prevention research focusing on Latinx children and teens with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) and obesity. PODER examines the social determinants of health and health disparities among Latinx children and teens with IDD; examines health, obesity, and health behaviors among children and teens with IDD and their maternal caregivers; and is developing and testing an intervention for Latinx children and teens with IDD and their families to promote healthy lifestyles.
  3. The ADA Network Knowledge Translation Center provides information and resources in Spanish for Latinx with disabilities, their families, organizations, and businesses about their rights and responsibilities under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Several of its Regional Centers also provide information and resources, along with technical assistance in Spanish. These Centers include the Northeast ADA Regional Center (in Spanish), the Southeast ADA Regional Center (in Spanish), the Great Lakes ADA Regional Center (in Spanish), and the Southwest ADA Regional Center (in Spanish).

Did you know that NARIC provides services and information in Spanish? For example, NARIC’s Research In Focus series is available in Spanish. This series includes articles that highlight results from NIDILRR-funded research related to Latinx with disabilities, such as The COVID-19 Pandemic Has Taken a Toll on Latinx Families with Children with IDD (Intellectual & Developmental Disabilities), but There are Some Positives as Well. NARIC’s information specialists answer questions about disability, independent living, and rehabilitation related topics in the Ask A Librarian Series, available in English and Spanish. NARIC’s Knowledgebase contains over 100 organizations that provide services for Latinx with disabilities and their families within the US (United States) and around the world. Finally, NARIC’s Spotlight podcast contains episodes and transcripts in English and Spanish and provides information on a variety of topics.

So much has changed in the last ten years for Latinx with disabilities, their families, and communities. NARIC looks forward to the positive changes the next ten years may bring for Latinx with disabilities. Happy Hispanic Heritage Month!

About mpgarcia

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