Disabilities in Utah
A new report shows one in five (22.3%) Utah adults are living with a disability. The most common are cognitive disabilities (10.2%), followed by mobility-related disabilities (9.4%), hearing-related disabilities (6.0%), disabilities that impact independent living (4.9%), vision-related disabilities (3.2%), and disabilities that impact self-care (2.4%).
Adults with disabilities experience significant differences in their health behaviors and overall health compared with adults without disabilities. People with disabilities are more likely to engage in unhealthy behaviors like inactivity and tobacco usage and experience a higher incidence of chronic health conditions like diabetes and obesity. Many of the health outcomes that persons with disabilities are more likely to experience either contribute to the top causes of death or are one of the leading causes of death in the U.S. In fact, Utahns with disabilities were two and a half times more likely to have a heart attack, almost two times more likely to be diagnosed with cancer (not including skin cancer), and two times more likely to have asthma or arthritis when compared to those without a disability. Focusing on improving health through exercise, proper nutrition, and preventive health check-ups often takes a backseat to the challenges faced in everyday life.
Often, these significant health differences can be dismissed by arguments that the observed differences are inherent to the nature of disability itself or that poor health lead to the disability. While both scenarios can be true, they do not represent all reasons for the large gap in health between people with and without disabilities. This report highlights how organizations, communities, and policies can play a large role in the health outcomes for people with disabilities. Practical examples and resources to improve the inclusivity and accessibility for people with disabilities are also shared. Spread the word!
What is the Utah Department of Health doing to help people with disabilities?
The Utah Disability and Health Program is housed within the Utah Department of Health, Bureau of Health Promotion. It is committed to improving the health of persons with disabilities by improving access and inclusion of persons with disabilities in health promotion programs such as physical activity and nutrition, diabetes prevention and self-management and ending tobacco use. Utahns of all abilities will have more opportunities to adopt healthy lifestyles, prevent and manage chronic diseases and be more integrated into the communities in which they live.
The Utah Disability and Health Program is guided by the Utah Disability Advisory Committee (UDAC) which membership includes people with disabilities and representatives from disability organizations, advocacy groups, and public health organizations.
To learn more about the Utah Disability and Health Program, contact Anna Braner at aBraner@utah.gov
What resources are available for people with disabilities?
- Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Dementia
- Baby Watch Early Intervention – provides support and services to families with children from birth to age three years who have developmental delays or disabilities
- Children with Special Health Care Needs – provides a variety of services and education for families with children with special health care needs
- Early Hearing Detection and Intervention – resources include the Children’s Hearing Aid Program, Hearing Aid Recycling Program, newborn hearing screening, CMV education, and other audiology services
- Living Well – find a variety of programs and workshops in the community that can help you manage health problems such as asthma, diabetes, arthritis, tobacco use, pain management, injury prevention, etc.
- Medicaid and Medicaid Waiver Services – source of health care coverage for people with disabilities; available waivers include Acquired Brain Injury Waiver, Aging Waiver, Community Supports Waiver for Individuals with Intellectual Disabilities or Other Related Conditions, Medicaid Autism Waiver, Medically Complex Children’s Waiver, New Choices Waiver, Physical Disabilities Waiver, and Waiver for Technology Dependent Children
- Utah Birth Defect Network – a statewide, population-based surveillance system that identifies birth defects in children born in Utah and provides education to families on the prevention of birth defects
- Utah Traumatic Brain Injury Fund
- Utah Traumatic Spinal Cord (SCI) and Brain Injury Rehabilitation (TBI) Fund
- Work Ability Utah – links employers with the qualified workforce of people with disabilities