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
- Paralysis Resource Center – operated in partnership with the Dana and Christopher Reeve Foundation . Check out their resources for people new to paralysis and spinal cord injury. (Also available in other languages.)
- Limb Loss Resource Center – operated in partnership with the Amputee Coalition of America . Browse by topic or by type and location of limb loss.
- Autism NOW – operated in partnership with The Arc.
- National Alzheimer’s Call Center – operated in partnership with The Alzheimer’s Association
- Eldercare Locator – Connects you to the nearest agency on aging or an aging and disability resource center.
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.