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The Earliest Records Of ‘Wheeled Furniture’ Date Back To The 6th Century BC

Updated: Aug 24, 2019

On May 7 we are charged with breaking down obstacles on National Barrier Awareness Day.

We are responsible for dissolving stigmas that keep people with disabilities from advancing in education.  If there was ever a time to speak up about questionable treatment of a human being, National Barrier Awareness Day encourages us to do so now.

“Today some 36 million Americans suffer from some form of handicap. Eighty percent of Americans will experience some disability in their lifetime. That makes it necessary for all of us to understand and appreciate both the barriers they must surmount and the contributions that they can make to our society.

Many disabled people face financial, cultural, and physical barriers because of a lack of public understanding of their needs. We must become more aware of the barriers that prevent or inhibit so many of our fellow Americans from participating fully in the life of our society, and how much more they could contribute if those obstacles were removed….”

People with physical disability make up the largest minority group of the US.

In the US, about 74.6 million people have some type of physical disability.

Students with disabilities have lower rates of participation in afterschool activities, leading to decreased socialization and leadership development. Start an inclusive kickball team and get EVERYONE on the field! Sign up for Kickball for All.

Of today’s 20 year-olds, just over 1 in 4 will become disabled before they retire.

17.6% of people with a disability were employed in the US in 2013.

41% of people with arthritis are forced to limit their physical activity, making it the leading cause of disability in the US.

27 million women have disabilities in the US.

Both African-Americans and American Indian/Alaska Natives have the highest rate of disability among racial minorities, with 24.3% for each group.

In the US, 25.6% of people with a disability are physically inactive during the week, compared to 12.8% of those without a disability.

Assistive technology is vital to more than a third of people with disabilities being able to take care of themselves at home.

Older Americans are significantly more likely than younger Americans to have a disability, according to the American Community Survey. About half of Americans ages 75 and older (49.8%) reported living with a disability in 2015, as did about a quarter (25.4%) of those 65 to 74. In contrast, just 6% of Americans ages 18 to 34 and 13% of those 35 to 64 said they had a disability. In absolute numbers, however, those ages 35 to 64 accounted for more disabled Americans – nearly 16 million in 2015 – than any other age group.

The most common types of disability involve difficulties with walking or independent living.

Some states, counties and cities are more likely than others to have residents with a disability. West Virginia had the highest share of any state, at 19.4%. In Arkansas, Kentucky and Alabama, about 17% said they had a disability. In contrast, Utah was among the lowest, with 9.9% of the population reporting a disability in 2015.

Disabled Americans earn less than those without a disability. Those with a disability earned a median of $21,572 in 2015, less than 70% of the median earnings for those without a disability ($31,872), according to the Census Bureau. Both figures are for the civilian, non-institutionalized population ages 16 and older, measured in earnings over the past 12 months.

Although most people who are blind develop their remaining senses more fully, they do not have a “sixth sense.”People with disabilities go to school, get married, work, have families, do laundry, grocery shop, laugh, cry, pay taxes, get angry, have prejudices, vote, plan and dream like everyone else.

Understanding the need for accessible parking and leaving it for those who need it

Encouraging participation of people with disabilities in community activities by using accessible meeting and event sites

Understanding children’s curiosity about disabilities and people who have them

Advocating a barrier-free environment

Speaking up when negative words or phrases are used about disability

90% of children with disabilities in developing countries do not attend school according to UNESCO.

The earliest records of ‘wheeled furniture’ was an inscription found on a stone slate in China and a child’s bed depicted in a frieze on a Greek vase, both dating back to the 6th century BC

The first records of wheeled seats being used for transporting the disabled are from the 3rd century BC when the Chinese used their invented wheelbarrow to move people as well as heavy objects

Harry Jennings and his disabled friend Herbert Everest, both mechanical engineers, invented the first lightweight, steel, collapsible wheelchair in 1933. Their “x-brace” design is still in common use, albeit with updated materials and other improvements

The 32nd President of the United States, Franklin D Roosevelt was paralyzed and used a wheelchair although he never wanted his photo taken in a way that would disclose his disability

In 2012 an underwater wheelchair was developed for diving. There are also specialized wheelchairs used for paragliding, basketball, soccer, tennis, the beach and just about anything you can think of.


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