The Millennial Generation is widely known for their general characteristics, among which the most noted are being outspoken, educated, selfish, and entitled. So yes, young people born between the early 1980s and mid-1990s raise their voice when needed and invest their time and money in education; and as a result, they want their personal goals and aspirations to be fulfilled, because they have worked hard for them. Now this applies to the generation as a whole. In the past, being disabled prevented most of those so afflicted from even dreaming let alone fulfilling their most important goals and aspirations. However, as with most other traditional societal norms, this one is being put to the test by the Millennials.
To set things straight – earlier generations like the Gen Xers or Baby Boomers would have probably done the same if they had had the tools and the mind-set of the Millennials; but unfortunately for them, they where born too soon to take on such large societal changes. Millennials, however, especially the older Millennials, had the privilege of growing up alongside the amazing technological developments that have come to the fore the last few decades and are still happening today. As a result of these fortunate circumstances, Millennials who are dealing with disabilities have a realistic chance of getting their degrees, traveling, getting the jobs they want, and living as if there were nothing to hold them back.
This outspoken generation has ensured that people with disabilities will be integrated into local communities and into the work place. Now, you may think what you want about this generation, but you have to give them credit for many accomplishments. However, one must wonder whether society has done everything possible to ensure that youth with disabilities can reach their full potential, and what are the obstacles these young people face on a daily basis that could be removed by local or state legislation?
In the US, the laws addressing disability insurance are different in each state. The majority of midsize and large employers do offer short-term disability benefits and/or long-term disability benefits, according to Steven Weisbart, chief economist at the Insurance Information Institute in New York. These benefits in the USA usually cover up to approximately 60 percent of regular income. But is this really enough for a person with a need for special care to have a normal life?
In Britain, young adults with disabilities have to deal with student loans, unstable labor markets, and sky-high rent prices, just like everyone else; and as if these burdens were not enough, they also have to face others. A young, disabled adult in Britain faces cuts in social care and social security, lack of accessible housing, and a variety of barriers to employment and even higher education.
Despite the fact that the USA and Britain are the most developed countries, with multiple countries looking up to them, the way the American and British governments are dealing with the problems the average disabled persons faces is far from ideal. A vast number of NGOs and human rights activists are investing their time and energy to improving the everyday lives of disabled youth, trying to change the laws, to improve accessibly, and to do as much as possible for these young adults to reach their full potential.
The foundations for an open society that will embrace all individuals and adapt to their specific needs have been set by the Millennials, but there is still a lot to be done. Whether or not this generation will be able to accomplish this task entirely is yet to be seen. However, having Gen Z as a force ready and willing to give its contribution to this cause makes the goal even more realistic and reachable.