Over the past two decades there has been increasing recognition of the importance and merits of increasing representation of historically underrepresented minorities in the health professions. However, people with disabilities are less discussed in these efforts. Over one-in-four of U.S. Americans have a disability; yet, it seems these individuals are less represented in the field of health education. This commentary discusses the merits of increasing representation of people with disabilities in the health education/promotion profession and calls for preparation programs and professional organizations to reduce systemic barriers and facilitate increased representation.
People with disabilities face institutional barriers to accessing higher education. Once in these spaces, universities do not provide adequate accommodations for students to be successful in their pre-professional education. For health educators with disabilities who navigate these barriers, they then face additional barriers to inclusion in professional organizations.
This paper describes the importance of providing access to health educators with disabilities, and provides action steps for pre-professional training programs and professional organizations to engage in disability inclusion activities.
This paper encourages the field of health education/promotion to remove systemic barriers that disenfranchise health educators with disabilities from entering and being retained in the profession.