Politics is an area of study that has interested many over the years. The field of politics is the mixture of activities that involve making decisions on behalf of groups, individuals, or other political power brokers, including the distribution of wealth or status as a reward for certain actions. The major branch of social science that studies politics and governance are known as political science.
There have been suggestions from various quarters that barriers to political participation are diminishing. The increasing number of elderly people with limited formal education, people who are functionally illiterate, and people who have retired from jobs is raising questions about the effectiveness of political processes and institutions. It has also been suggested that people are being prevented from exercising their right to vote because of barriers to mobility. If these trends continue, it is said that empowerment may be impossible.
A major part of disability planning is addressing the barriers that disabled people can face when accessing political systems. The United States has created many laws and policies that specifically pertain to persons with specific disabilities. For example, one of the most notable laws barring discrimination against the mentally retarded in employment is the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. Several studies have indicated that the increasing number of older people with disabilities will increase the limitations placed on them in the political system.
There has also been a demand for more disability-specific policies in relation to the workings of the political processes. The development of policies for the physically and mentally challenged has been slow. Some disability advocates have suggested that developing such policies could become a source of resistance to the political process. Opponents argue that such a policy is unnecessary and will not benefit people with disabilities. There has also been some debate as to whether a policy should focus on increasing political awareness or making citizens more aware of their disability.
One way that disability experts and organizations working towards better political participation have attempted to address this problem is through the development of accessible policies and procedures. One such policy is the inclusion of text in resumes. Text can be written or spoken; it can be explained with diagrams, lists of personal qualifications, or lists of awards and honors. In addition, there are many technical solutions available to those in wheelchairs or those with other handicap characteristics who wish to have a much greater impact on the workplace. For example, Braille files and high chair conversion kits allow disabled people to more readily complete standard office tasks. This has led to a large increase in the number of people with disabilities entering the workplace.
With increased political awareness of disabilities and with the growing numbers of older people with disabilities in developed countries, there has been a rising interest by governments and businesses in the business practices of people with disabilities. The United Kingdom and the United States have both established programs to support the needs of disabled professionals. The Canadian government has also taken several measures to improve the status of disabled persons in the workplace. These include additional training opportunities and an expanding disability Discrimination Act. Some developing countries have begun to develop their own disability policies, including India, Malaysia, and China. There is also increasing international attention to the need for improved access to information and technology for those with disabilities.