The Surgeon General’s Call to Action to Improve the Health and Wellness of Persons with Disabilities
Advancing the Call Nationwide
This Call to Action is designed to expand knowledge, understanding and action by a broad range of individuals, groups and organizations. Each has a role to play in advancing the principle that good health is necessary for persons with disabilities to secure the freedom to work, learn and engage actively in their families and their communities. While all disabilities are as different as the individuals who experience them, the challenges and opportunities for persons with disabilities often are similar.
Health, Wellness and Service Professionals
Health care providers, service support systems and the programs that train and educate them can gain from this Call to Action. Old attitudes about the relationship between disability and health can be changed; opportunities for better ways for health care providers to work with individuals with disabilities can be identified; and partnerships in treatment, education and health promotion can be forged.
Community Leaders and Influencers
This Call to Action can, and should, resonate with community leaders in both the public and private sectors (including employers and the media) and persons who craft or influence the creation of community programs. The goal and objectives, and how they are implemented as strategies at the community level, can both incentivize and yield dividends for employers of persons with disabilities, including greater productivity and lower overall health costs due to secondary illnesses. Advocates for persons with disabilities can use this Call to Action to promote the involvement of individuals with disabilities as equal partners in all aspects of American life.
The Media and Entertainment Industries
The media and entertainment industries can help educate persons with disabilities about ways to meet their own health and wellness needs by enabling individuals with disabilities to see, hear and read about “persons just like them” in electronic, print and audio media. All forms of broadcast and print media, and all forms of public entertainment can be used to further needed public education to open minds about individuals with disabilities of all kinds.
Policy Makers and Administrators
Policy makers in both the public and private sectors can foster collaborations, partnerships and approaches to accessible, integrated services that span federal, state, tribal and local governments to improve access to and affordability of health and wellness services for persons with disabilities. This Call to Action can point to new directions in both policies and programs that will yield savings in both economic and human terms, from changes in how programs address the whole individual and not just a person’s disabilities, to ways to remove impediments to wellness promotion for persons with disabilities across the life cycle.
This Call to Action is about the education of America to the reality that persons with disabilities are just like everyone else. Their health and wellness needs are much the same as those of individuals without disabilities, although sometimes more difficult to achieve. Their disabilities are just one aspect of their lives and should not define who they are or what they can become.
Persons with Disabilities, Families and Advocates
Individuals of all ages with disabilities, their families and the organizations that represent them can translate the objectives in this Call to Action using the strategies for action recommended in the “Vision for the Future” section in the conduct of their daily lives. These same strategies can be applied as well to the places where they live, work, play and learn. Some strategies might present opportunities for personal growth. Others might provide impetus for local coalition building to respond to the health and wellness needs of persons with disabilities and for advocacy to ensure that these needs are met.
Last revised: January 4, 2007