The Handicapped Poor in America Essays

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In The Working Poor, David Shipler relates the plight of the invisible poor in America, sharing the stories of laborers across the nation who work but cannot get a firm grip on the slippery surface of the American dream. Shipler also touches on, but does not fully explore, the even thornier path of the disabled, impoverished individual in America. Although a relatively large segment of the population (10-20 percent of the United States population is disabled), the disabled poor encounter setbacks in their struggle to succeed in a world where one’s worth is often judged by one’s economic and educational attainment. A blind and impoverished woman from Eastern Europe directly states that the disabled poor "depend on everyone; no one wants us.…show more content…
Because it is difficult to determine the line between whether something is “limiting” or just an inconvenience, and it is open to interpretation what “life activities” consist of, this definition is vague. There are many different types of disability that individuals suffer.
Some are more acutely caused or exacerbated by poverty than others, but many of these disabilities are caused specifically by the childhood environment typical of impoverished families. While physical disabilities are more easily identified, cognitive and behavioral disabilities are extremely common among the poor and, because of their difficulty to detect, classify and treat, are sometimes more debilitating.
Children in poverty are more at risk for conditions indicative of future disability, such as asthma, lead poisoning, chronic illness, low birth rate and learning disabilities (Pokempner and Roberts 6). Because of shortages of decent housing, especially in urban areas, poor families are forced to inhabit low-income housing that often falls short of government standards regarding toxins in the home. Unlike children in middle-class homes, poorer children are exposed to high amounts of lead dust from old painted surfaces and furnaces
(which can cause lead poisoning), as well as airborne mold and dust particles from the decay of older housing and exposure to other asthma causing elements such a cockroaches and draughts. The home itself may trigger asthma, which is “now the
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