By Amanda Morris
September 26, 2023 at 11:00 a.m. EDT
For years, the National Institutes of Health has funded research on health inequities faced by racial, gender and other underserved communities. But one notable group was left out: people with disabilities.
Now, in a major victory for disability health advocates, the NIH has announced that it has designated people with disabilities as a “health disparity population.”
Disability advocates say the change reflects an ongoing shift in medicine from trying to “fix” or cure disabled people toward viewing them more holistically, as a demographic group with its own unique socioeconomic challenges.
“Race is really complicated. Gender identity is really complicated,” he said. “And that is certainly not a good reason to ignore the population. If we want to be a healthier country and a more inclusive country we need to understand and develop policies to support this frequently ignored minority population.”
He expects the new designation to have ripple effects across universities and organizations that vie for NIH funding by encouraging them to think more about how to make their own workplaces and research projects more inclusive of disability.