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Living Well and Working Well with Disability Programs

  • Published: 2010-10-20 (Revised/Updated 2013-06-01) : Author: Chit Chat for Facebook
  • Synopsis: Statistically individuals with disabilities maintain a much larger unemployment rate than those without a disability.

Statistically, individuals with disabilities maintain a much larger unemployment rate than those without a disability.

One possible contributing factor to this statistic is the secondary health conditions that often result from a primary disability. These secondary health conditions often undermine an individual's ability to secure and maintain steady and reliable employment or simply lead a productive and enjoyable way of life.

The Living Well and Working Well with a Disability programs are the result of a collaborative effort between researchers at the University of Kansas Research and Training Center on Independent Living and the University of Montana Rural Institute on Disabilities to reduce the incidence and severity of secondary psychological conditions and physical limitations in individuals with disabilities. The development of this beneficial and highly effective program spans twenty years of intensive research conducted by experts at both universities.

What is a Secondary Condition

Secondary conditions in an individual with a disability are health problems that often develop as a result of the individual's primary impairment. These health difficulties may include such conditions as depression, anxiety, pain, weight gain, or fatigue, and can intensify existing limitations or create new restrictions upon performance ability. Secondary conditions can be of either a mental or a physical nature, often affecting the individual's psychological and emotional wellbeing. If left untreated, these secondary conditions can lead to acute medical conditions, severely limiting normal daily living activities. However, many of the secondary conditions that develop in individuals with disabilities can be managed through the implementation of behavioral interventions designed to enhance healthy lifestyle behaviors. Research by Centers for Independent Living reported that those who participated in the Living Well and Working Well workshops related fewer secondary conditions. It was additionally reported that employee productivity amongst those disabled individuals who participated in a health promotion program was greatly increased.

Healthy and Independent Living

The Living Well and Working Well health promotion and wellness programs are peer-facilitated workshops that promote healthy independent living through problem solving and goal setting strategies. The majority of participants in these programs report significant improvements in overall health, lifestyle, and general outlook on life. Individuals with disabilities who participate in these health promotion programs generally find that they are better equipped to enjoy a greater community and workplace participation, as well as experience a healthier and more fulfilled way of life. The Living Well program focuses upon developing goals to achieve a more meaningful and healthy lifestyle, while the Working Well program encourages and develops these concepts through emphasis on sustaining a healthy and well balanced lifestyle in an effort to maintain employment.

Living Well with a Disability

The Living Well with a Disability program is an approximately 20 hour workshop that encourages individuals with a disability to achieve a more fulfilled lifestyle through the promotion of health maintenance. The program focuses upon managing symptoms, setting goals, problem solving strategies, nutrition, exercise, communication strategies, systems advocacy, and a number of other areas related to healthy living for individuals with disabilities.

Working Well with a Disability

The Working Well with a Disability program is also an approximately 20 hour workshop adapted from the Living Well program. The workshop focuses upon work-related goals through the maintenance of a healthy lifestyle. Topics address managing stress, problem solving, goal setting, physical activity, and various other subjects related to healthy living as it is related to securing and maintaining employment.


Evaluation of the Living Well and Working Well with a Disability programs reveal that participants generally experience a reduction in the negative effects of secondary conditions associated with a primary disability. In general, they report an overall improved outlook on life, less limitation, and fewer health care needs.

This article was written by April S Kenyon and supported by the desktop Facebook login app Chit Chat for Facebook. Chit Chat is a Facebook client app that makes it much easier for visually disabled users to communicate with their friends and family when used in combination with a screen reading application i.e. Jaws. The chat messenger interface and instant messages can be easily and confidently read out using Jaws.

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