CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (CBS19 NEWS) -- Researchers from Johns Hopkins University and the University of Virginia are saying there need to be major changes for those with disabilities. They’re calling on the National Institutes of Health to start those changes. 

“I think the first step is really formally designating the disability community as a health disparity population. It sends a signal more broadly. So it’s not just about catalyzing that research but it’s signaling that this is a population that has been formally recognized and that catalyzes action in a lot of other spaces as well,” said Rupa Valdez an Associate Professor at UVA Health.

Valdez has what is called an invisible illness, which makes her disabled without people knowing.

She shares how these changes will make a change for a lot of people.

“So the goal was to bring both awareness of the disability community as a health disparities population. And then in the end to catalyze action both in terms of research but also in terms of making changes in the ways that we create spaces. The way we create services and policies,” said Valdez.

Valdez shares a jarring statistic that emphasizes just how much these changes will help.

“So we talk about one in four Americans living with a disability broadly speaking. That’s one in three for people living in rural communities,” shared Valdez.

By the NIH recognizing this community as a health disparity population, there will be more funding and research.

These impacts will change the lives of one in four people who are living with disabilities.