Who are people with disabilities? What do we know about people with disabilities? How many individuals with disabilities use assistive devices? How many people with disabilities are working? What are people with disabilities' demographics? These are just a few of the questions that are asked every day as we develop and implement programs and strategies to combat the high unemployment rate of persons with disabilities. Numerous resources are available to provide statistical data to answer these questions and provide information on other disability related topics. Many resources now post their information on Web sites which makes researching disability data readily accessible and fast. Outlined below is information on some of the data resources regarding people with disabilities.
National Center on Health Statistics (NCHS)
The National Center on Health Statistics in 1998 made available national information on assistive devices used by people with disabilities from their National Health Interview Survey on Disability (NHIS-D), conducted in 1994. This is the first time national data on the use of assistive devices by people with disabilities has ever been released. The data covers: anatomical devices (braces, artificial limbs), mobility devices, hearing devices and vision devices. The complete NHIS-D survey is available in NCHS's Web site. To obtain a print or CD-ROM copy, call (301) 436-7551. A CD-ROM is also available which offers far more disability data than appears either on their Web site or is available in print.
National Organization on Disability (NOD)
The 1998 National Organization on Disability/Harris Poll of Americans with Disabilities, a nationwide survey of 1,000 Americans with disabilities aged 16 and older, was conducted in mid-1998. This survey found that Americans with disabilities continue to lag well behind other Americans in many of the most basic aspects of life. Large gaps still exist between adults with disabilities and other adults with regard to employment, education, income, frequency of socializing and other basic measures of ten major "indicator" areas of life. Furthermore, most of these gaps show little evidence of narrowing. In some cases, the gaps have even widened over time.
Employment continues to be the area with the widest gulf between those who are disabled and those who are not. Forty two percent of those who are disabled and not working believe that attitudinal barriers keep them from working (i.e., that employers are unwilling to recognize that they are capable of taking on a full-time job). A significant majority of people with disabilities who work (64 percent) and people with disabilities who want to work (81 percent) have encountered supervisors and co-workers who are afraid that a person with a disability "cannot do the job."
The study provided some interesting data on the use of technology by persons with disabilities.
Only one in four (25 percent) of individuals with disabilities who work and four out of ten (40 percent) of individuals with disabilities who want to work say they need special equipment or technology to perform effectively the kind of job they prefer.
Half (49 percent) of people with disabilities who work full or part-time use computers at work. Those who work full-time are much more likely (60 percent) to use a computer than those who work part-time (35 percent).
More than a quarter (28 percent) of people with disabilities own special equipment or technology to assist them because of their disability. The number has risen significantly since 1994 when it was 22 percent. Those who describe their disability as very or somewhat severe are more likely (33 percent) to own special equipment than those who characterize their disability as slight or moderate (19 percent).
Fifteen percent of people with disabilities who work full or part-time, or would like to be working, need a personal computer.
For more information on this study visit NOD's Web site, or call (202) 283-5960 (V) or (202) 293-5968 (TTY).
The National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR)
The National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research is a federal government agency charged with maintaining disability statistics. Recently, NIDRR published "Chartbook on Work and Disability in the United States, 1998," a compendium of key findings from numerous statistical sources. It can be viewed on the Web site, or in print copy.
You may also call for more information (202) 205-8134 (V)
Disability Statistics Center
The Disability Statistics Center is a national center of research and training. The Center receives its primary funding from NIDRR. The Center has ongoing research projects on the cost of disability, employment and earnings, access to health and long-term care services, housing, mortality and national statistical indicators on the status of people with disabilities in America.
For more information, please visit the Web site or call (415) 502-5217 (V)
The Census Bureau
The Census Bureau plans to include questions on disability in the 2000 Census. In the meantime, the Census Bureau maintains a disability statistics Web site. The statistics include information on the numbers of persons with disabilities on a state-by-state and metropolitan area basis.
For more information, please visit the Web site
or call (301) 457-3242 (V).
Source: U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Disabilitiy Employment Policy