Types of Barriers That Youth with Disability Face
Youth with disabilities encounter many societal barriers whether it be physical, attitudinal, social, communicative or embedded in policy. All of which can significantly impact their daily lives. These barriers permeate across crucial sectors, including education, employment, social inclusion, and healthcare, and can lead to detrimental effects that can compound over time.
By fostering open conversations and promoting inclusivity, particularly among children, we can work towards dismantling the stigma and discrimination faced by youth with disabilities. It is our aspiration at Maple Community Services to cultivate communities that are informed, empathetic, and equipped with the tools needed to create a more inclusive future with the help of dedicated disability support providers.
What types of barriers do youth with disabilities face?
Our youth are among the most vulnerable demographic in society. Besides being small humans, they tend to lack the life experience and skills necessary to effectively navigate challenges. These are often things we learn as we grow older through experience and education. Unique socio-economic challenges may also play a part in the vulnerability of our youth, such as lacking financial resources, making it difficult for them to meet their basic needs without significant support.
Add any kind of disability into the equation and you have heightened vulnerabilities for our youth. They are more likely to encounter complex challenges, including limited access to education, employment opportunities, healthcare, and social services.
Unfortunately, there are many barriers that exacerbate their struggles in attending school, securing employment, and engaging in various activities. Although physical barriers are often more apparent, some of the most challenging barriers youth with disabilities face are those of external and societal attitudes from our peers.
Barriers that our youth with disabilities face can be categorised into a number of areas:
The most obvious barriers to youth with disabilities are the physical ones. A lot of buildings, public spaces, and transportation systems lack appropriate apparatus, making it harder to access and navigate such areas. This can include inaccessible entrances, lack of ramps or lifts, narrow doorways, and insufficient bathroom facilities.
The idea of physical barriers can also include the use of assistive devices and technologies: Assistive devices such as wheelchairs, crutches, hearing aids, and communication devices are essential for many people with disabilities to participate fully, often in educational and occupational settings. However, high costs, limited availability, and inadequate support systems for obtaining and maintaining these devices can create significant barriers for youth with disabilities.
Attitudes towards those who appear different to us can cause significant barriers for youth living with disabilities. Stereotyping and misconceptions can contribute to negative attitudes and discrimination. These stereotypes may include assumptions about the capabilities, intelligence, or potential of individuals with disabilities, which can limit young people’s opportunities, disadvantage them in school or the workplace and encourage societal biases.
Due to a lack of understanding, some individuals may perceive those with disabilities with pity or consider them as helpless and dependent. This could be considered patronising and can undermine their autonomy and self-esteem. The fear of being different or the lack of understanding about disabilities can result in social barriers. There is also still a lot of societal stigmas around disability, which can lead to exclusion from social activities and peer groups.
Policies that fail to address the diverse needs of youth with disabilities can create significant barriers which can be seen across many sectors.
- Education: A lack of accommodations or apparatus, and limited access to support services can hinder educational progress and limit opportunities for learning and skills development.
- Employment: Employment policies may overlook the unique needs or specific abilities of youth with disabilities, this can result in limited job opportunities and workplace discrimination. Lack of support for vocational training, complicated job application processes, and insufficient workplace adaptations can also hinder their entry into the workforce.
- Healthcare: If the healthcare needs of youth with disabilities are not adequately addressed this can create barriers to accessing essential medical services, therapies, and assistive devices. Limited accessibility in healthcare facilities can also prevent them from receiving the care they need.
- Social welfare: Insufficient support for independent living, limited access to disability benefits, and a lack of comprehensive social services can create barriers to the well-being and inclusion of youth with disabilities.
Communication barriers are very common, especially among youth with hearing or speech impairments. Without sign language interpretation, subtitles, or alternative communication tools, the ability to interact, communicate, and access information effectively can be seriously hindered.
In addition to actively communicating, we can also touch on the lack of representation of individuals with disabilities in the media and other platforms. By bringing people with disabilities into the mainstream and elevating them as role models, we have the power to foster a greater belief in the potential and capabilities of youth with disabilities.
Youth with disabilities may face limitations in accessing social activities, recreational programs, and community events. Inaccessible venues, lack of adaptations, and a lack of awareness about inclusivity can hinder their ability to engage in social interactions and form meaningful relationships.
Youth with disabilities are at a higher risk of experiencing bullying and harassment. Differences in appearance, speech, or mobility may make them targets for this sort of behaviour.
In addition to these barriers, our youth with disabilities may also have to deal with challenges linked to gender, sexuality, ethnicity and poverty, which are all factors that can further exacerbate the complexity of their challenges.
How can the removal of barriers positively impact the lives of youth with disabilities?
If we can work towards removing these barriers from society as a whole, we could create a profoundly positive impact on the lives of all young folk.
Removing barriers allows youth with disabilities to access the same opportunities as their peers and gain greater independence and autonomy in their daily lives. They can pursue education, employment, and recreational activities on an equal footing, encouraging personal growth, skill development, and social integration. This not only benefits those with disabilities but also encourages a diverse greater community.
By dismantling attitudinal, social, and physical barriers, they can engage in social activities, form meaningful relationships, and participate fully in community life. Without barriers to employment, youth with disabilities can access a broader range of employment opportunities, leading to increased employment rates, financial independence, and career growth. This enhances their overall well-being, mental health, and quality of life.
In essence, the removal of these barriers can open doors for youth with disabilities. We can empower them to reach their full potential, lead fulfilling lives, and contribute to society. It would promote a more inclusive society that values the diverse abilities of everyone involved.
Maple Services support individuals with disabilities and help them to achieve their goals and way towards a better and happy life. Contact us to learn more.