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The Florida Department of Health works to protect, promote & improve the health of all people in Florida through integrated state, county & community efforts.

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Disability and Health Program

Contact the Disability and Health Program

Chronic diseases, such as diabetes, heart disease and obesity have a  significant impact on persons with disabilities. According to the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS, 2018), 28% of adults in Florida have a disability and 17.9% of those individuals have diabetes, 12% have been diagnosed with heart disease, and 39% are obese. To reduce this disability burden and improve  access to care for persons with disabilities, the Disability and Health Program (DHP) works to improve the health of persons with mobility limitations and intellectual or developmental disabilities through evidence-based public health interventions

COVID-19 and Disability

Physical activity can help relieve stress during the COVID-19 pandemic. Starting and/or keeping up with physical activity can be challenging as many of our vulnerable populations continue to shelter-in-place. Here is an excellent resource from Special Olympics for simple exercises you can do at home to increase your strength and well-being.

Special Olympics School of Strength website

The CDC developed a video, available in American Sign Language (ASL), discussing the importance of wearing masks to prevent the spread of COVID-19. This video that features CDC staff wearing masks to protect themselves and others from COVID-19. 

"I Wear A Mask Because"


Goals of the Disability and Health Program in Florida

boy in Wheelchair

Since 2018, the Florida Department of Health DHP focused on a more inclusive approach to its programs and services. As a result, the DHP is continuing its efforts to: Improve access to opportunities for adapted physical activity for students with disabilities in mainstream and exceptional student education schools

  1. Partner with the university of Florida to improve access to adapted physical activity for students with disabilities in mainstream and exceptional student education schools. 
  2. Reduce the prevalence of diabetes among persons with disabilities by implementing an adapted Diabetes Prevention Program through pilot sites statewide.
  3. Increase the accessibility, availability, and use of health promotion resources, tools, and inclusion strategies among persons with disabilities.
  4. Improve access to care and treatment of persons with disabilities by providing disability awareness competency training to healthcare professionals and providers.
  5. Encourage personal preparedness among persons with disabilities and access and functional needs.
  6. Collaborate with partner agencies to improve access to shelters, services, accommodations and functional needs for persons with disabilities during emergency response and recovery efforts.


girl on a swing

People with disabilities need the same health and wellness programs and services as the general population to stay well, active and be a part of the community. Ensuring the health of persons wtih disabilities requires health services that meet their needs as a whole person, not just as a person living with a disability. 

Tips for Improving Overall Health

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations for physical activity include: 

  • Children and adolescents, ages 6 to 17 years--60 minutes or more of physical activity each day.
  • Adults, ages 18 to 64 years--at least 2 hours and 30 minutes of moderate intensity activity each week and musle-strengthening activities on 2 or more days each week. 
  • Older adults, ages 65 and older--same as for 18 to 64-year-old adults with no limiting health conditions. 

There are many ways for children and adults to be active. Look for activities you would enjoy and about ways to be more active. Maybe you would enjoy...

  • Spending time indoors and outdoors daily for a walk, roll, or run
  • Learning new adapted physical activities that you may enjoy
  • Joining friends in fitness activities like going for walks and rides together at an accessible park or greenspace. 
  • Keeping a log of any physical activities you do each day
  • Participating in activities offered through local parks and recreation departments. 

In addition to becoming more active:

  • Keep a log of your weight each week to share with your health care provider.
  • Keep a daily log of what you eat and how much. You may see ways you can eat a healthier diet and eliminate unhealthy choices. 

 Fact Sheet: Physical Activity & Fitness and Healthy Eating & Healthy Weight Tips | (Spanish Version)

*Note: This page contains materials in the Portable Document Format (PDF). The free Adobe Reader may be required to view these files. 

This publication was supported by the Grant or Cooperative Agreement Number, NU27DD000012, funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Its contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the for Centers Disease Control and Prevention or the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Centers