Celebrating Women’s Health and Disabilities with the Accessibility Advisory Committee

Happy Women’s History Month from the Accessibility Advisory Committee!

In celebration of the nearly four billion women in the world, including the many brilliant women at Shoreline Community College, the Accessibility Advisory Committee (AAC) will focus on women with disabilities and women’s health this March.

According to the United Nations, approximately one in five women live with a disability. Says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Disability and Health Promotion, about 36 million women in the United States have disabilities, and approximately 44% of women aged 65 and older are living with a disability. Moreover, unemployment rates are the highest among women with disabilities due to the “double discrimination” they face. The United Nations estimates that 75% of women with disabilities are unemployed and those who are employed earn less than their counterparts who are not female and/or do not have disabilities.

In the past, many female-related diagnoses were not considered “disabilities,” per se. However, when the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act of 2008 (ADAAA) was past, this changed and made a huge difference in the lives of many people. For example, those who have reproductive disorders (men and women) are eligible for accommodations, such as to go to medical appointments.

Is Pregnancy a Disability Under the ADA?

Pregnancy is not considered a “disability” in and of itself. People who are pregnant are protected at school and in the workplace under the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA). However, individuals who have pregnancy-related disabilities would be protected by the ADA. For example, those who have been diagnosed with gestational diabetes, preeclamsia, or simply have been told by a physician that they cannot lift during pregnancy or that they are at high risk would all be eligible for accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act. Furthermore, though Post-Partum Depression is post-birth, it is still pregnancy-related and it is still a very serious mental health disability so is covered under the PDA and the ADA. At Shoreline Community College, students who are pregnant should work with Student Accessibility Services if they need accommodations, and employees should work with Human Resources, recognizes that they will also likely need to take FMLA for maternity leave.

PMDD, PMS, and Menstruation

Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD) is not the same as Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS). PMDD is a significant mental health disorder which can cause anxiety, sadness, anger, and more. PMDD only affects approximately 8% of women, but those who are accurately diagnosed may need to be treated in a variety of ways, including with medication, due to the severity of their symptoms. 

Individuals with PMDD as well as well as those with significant symptoms from PMS and menstruation, such as migraines, severe cramping, and gastrointestinal problems may be eligible for accommodations at school and in the workplace.

Risks for Women

Due to their body structure, and because they menstruate for several decades, women are at particularly high risk for some disabilities. Specifically, we see anemia in nearly all women. Women are also highly at risk for arthritis; this is the most common cause of disability among older women. For those of us who spend our days in sedentary jobs, typing at computers, the risk not only goes up, but the effects will be seen sooner.


How are we doing?

Please submit feedback about the information that the Accessibility Advisory Committee shares, or any questions that you have, to Miranda Levy via email at mlevy@shoreline.edu so that the committee can review together and serve the campus community better.

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