According to the data collected by the 2010 Population and Housing Census, 5.2% of the population in Mexico identifies as living with some form of disability. In Mazatlan alone, over 5,000 people have registered as having a disability. While some of these individuals have visible disabilities, many do not.
Since such a significant portion of the population lives with disabilities, the public must be aware of this issue. Living with a disability involves unique challenges and vulnerabilities. A population that better understands the existence, prevalence, and challenges of living with a disability is better equipped to create a welcoming and navigable society for these individuals.
Disability Awareness in Mexico
For a society to truly accommodate people living with disabilities, it is essential to know precisely how prevalent disability is and how best to design public spaces and discourse that do not exclude such individuals. An accurate count of citizens living with disabilities is a crucial first step. Such statistics are necessary for creating the programs and public space designs needed to accommodate those living with disabilities.
It is also crucial for the population at large to understand that not all disabilities are outwardly visible. While many disabilities come with obvious outward signs – a wheelchair, for instance – other forms of disability are invisible to the human eye. Individuals living with invisible disabilities are just as deserving of accommodation as any others.
Disability and Public Access
In recent decades, access to public spaces for those living with a disability has dramatically increased. Buildings and public transportation are usually designed with wheelchair accessibility in mind. Most public spaces offer specific accommodations for deaf and blind individuals.
Access to treatment for many forms of disability has also improved in recent years. For instance, an individual living with cerebral palsy now has access to cerebral palsy resources and various services, including physical therapy and rehabilitation, orthotic devices, assistive technology, medication, and surgery. While the effects of the disease cannot be entirely reversed, these forms of treatment can significantly improve the quality of life.
Disability and Social Vulnerability
The term “social vulnerability” refers to an individual or group’s increased likelihood of suffering abuse, poverty, homelessness, and other hardships. In Mexico, the number of socially vulnerable people with a disability increased from 2 million in 2014 to 2.7 million in 2018. This growth rate is alarming and requires concerted effort to combat.
Many people living with disabilities become socially vulnerable because, statistically, these individuals are less likely to complete secondary education than those not living with disabilities. Education is one of the most relevant factors in determining social vulnerability and gender, race, and language barriers. Programs that aim to increase the graduation rates of individuals living with disabilities are necessary to reverse the current trend.
Ensuring that individuals living with disabilities have access to the relevant forms of treatment is another societal responsibility that must be met. Appropriate treatment differs from one disability to another. What does not change is the necessity for society to acknowledge, accommodate, and even celebrate the existence of individuals living with disabilities.