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Women with Disabilities

Spring 2001

Today's modern woman has a multitude of roles and responsibilities: caregiver, wife, mother, employee, friend, and volunteer, among others. Twenty-six million of these American women are living with disabilities, varying conditions that make these roles even more challenging because of physical or mental limitations. Various diseases and conditions produce disability rates for both sexes which increase as age increases. Depending on the source, the word disability is defined in different ways. For this site, we use the Department of Justice definition of physical disability:
  1. Any physiological disorder, or condition, cosmetic disfigurement, or anatomical loss affecting one or more of the following body systems: neurological, musculoskeletal, special sense organs, respiratory (including speech organs), cardiovascular, reproductive, digestive, genito-urinary, hemic and lymphatic, skin, and endocrine; or

  2. Any mental or psychological disorder, such as mental retardation, organic brain syndrome, emotional or mental illness, and specific learning disabilities.

Despite the many definitions of disability, one fact remains constant: the number of Americans with a disability is steadily increasing. Our nation's citizens are living longer, and the population of older Americans is swelling as the baby boomers age. With these demographic changes comes an increased prevalence in age-related disabilities.

Some of the challenges faced by women with disabilities include:

  • physical barriers, such as architectural barriers and lack of adequate transportation and support services to keep appointments, run errands, or receive medical care;


  • financial restraints; and

  • lack of reliable health information and services that address their needs.

NWHIC has created this site - Women with Disabilities - to help women overcome these and some other barriers.

It puts a wealth of useful information together into one place for women with disabilities, caretakers, health professionals, and researchers.

You can access this website at

National Womens Health Information Center; the Office on Women's Health, Department of Health and Human Services.

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This article was provided by Women Alive. It is a part of the publication Women Alive Newsletter.