Where can I find information and support for my disability?

Yesterday we introduced you to a library full of excellent resources from the NIDILRR community  aimed at helping people new to disability or entering new phases in life with a disability. Today, we continue with organizations, agencies, and resources from the greater disability and rehabilitation community.

First, let us point you to our  Librarian’s Picks , brochures that list agencies, organizations, and websites targeting specific topics: Advocacy, Aging, Assistive Technology, Autism Spectrum Disorder, Caregiving and Caregivers, Children with Special Needs, Education, Employment, Finding Rehabilitation Services, General Spanish Language Resources, Independent Living, Mental Health, Sensory Disability, Spinal Cord Injury, Stroke, Traumatic Brain Injury, and Universal Design. Some of the resources we’ll cover here appear in these brochures as well. These are also available in Spanish.

Finding basic information about a disability, treatment, or drug

Many people will turn to their favorite search engine and enter a few key words. What comes back may be a mountain of information, not all of it helpful. Probably the best and most reputable resource we can recommend to find out about a specific condition, treatment, or drug is  Medline Plus , maintained by the  National Library of Medicine . Every article is reviewed by a health professional. You’ll find basic definitions, causes and treatments, and recommendations for related resources. Many articles also link to videos, clinical trials, and even peer-reviewed journal articles. If you want to dive deeper, search PubMed at NLM for abstracts of journal articles, books, and reports (more than 10 million volumes!).

If you do turn to your favorite search engine, please take a few minutes and read through these resources from NLM on evaluating health information:  https://medlineplus.gov/evaluatinghealthinformation.html

Find a resource center

The Administration for Community Living has several resource centers that connect people to information and support resources

Find a disability-specific organization

Often, the best source of information and support is someone who’s “been there, done that.” Disability-specific organizations are run by people with personal and professional experience in a disability, such as stroke (National Stroke Association), mental health (National Alliance for Mental Illness), or vision loss (National Federation of the Blind). Visit our  Disability Resources pages  or search our  Knowledgebase  to find an organization that meets your needs.

Find a professional organization

Many professions have national organizations that provide certifications, educational programs, and other supports for their members. They may also have “Find a Professional” or other resources to connect the general public to their members or professionals in their field. You’ll find several in our  Finding Rehabilitation Services  brochure.

Find local help

Have you called 211? 211 is community-level information and referral. Just dial those three numbers (2-1-1) and a real, live person will answer, ask you some questions, and point you to resources in your community to help with support, treatment, benefits, financial assistance, and much more. You can also  look up your 211’s website  and search their resource databases. Many of these centers offer information services in languages other than English.

Find your nearest public library

When was the last time you visited your public library? We routinely recommend that our patrons visit or call their local library for assistance. Ask to speak with a reference librarian, tell them the topic you’re interested in, and we guarantee you’ll walk out with a stack of books and a ream of printouts from good-quality online sources. Find your library at  http://www.publiclibraries.com/  or call 211.

Please note that these resources primarily support people with disabilities and their families in the US. If you are outside the US, please  contact us  and we’ll do our best to identify an appropriate resource in your home country.