Disabilities: Looking Back and Looking Ahead
Sue Sun Yom, MA, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine
Neither numbers nor definitions come easily when considering disabilities. Although 35 to 49 million Americans are formally classified as disabled,1 many more disabilities may be unreported or undiagnosed. Disabilities differ in kind and degree of functional impairment and in the role they play in shaping a person’s identity.
In this issue we explore how the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) has affected medical education and medical practice, since the ADA’s major provisions were implemented 5 years ago.2 Additionally, we were curious to learn about the experiences of individuals living with a disability. In our authors’ candid accounts we saw their focus on adaptation and success rather than failure, and their development of insights and compensations that may bring a special compassion to the profession.