Survey of Americans with Disabilities - July 26, 2010
Kessler Foundation and the National Organization on Disability commissioned Harris Interactive to conduct the 2010 Survey of Americans with Disabilities. This marks the sixth effort over the past 24 years to assess the quality of life of people with disabilities on a wide range of critical dimensions, to measure the gaps between people with and without disabilities on these indicators, and to track them over time. The partners have established a series of 10 indicators of significant life activities of Americans with disabilities. These indicators, which have been tracked over the course of six surveys, are: employment, income, education, health care, access to transportation, socializing, going to restaurants, attendance at religious services, political participation, and life satisfaction. This year, three new indicators were added, which include: technology, access to mental health services, and overall financial situation. While there has been modest improvement in a few areas, the general implication of the indicators is that now twenty years after the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), there has yet to be significant progress in most areas.
Among the findings:
Employment represents the largest gap between the two groups. Of all working-age people with disabilities, only 21% say that they are employed, compared to 59% of people without disabilities – a gap of 38 percentage points. People with disabilities are still much more likely to be living in poverty. People with disabilities are less likely than those without disabilities to socialize with friends, relatives or neighbors, once again suggesting that there are significant barriers to participation in leisure activities for this population. The second-largest gap between people with and without disabilities is regarding Internet access. 85% of adults without disabilities access the Internet, whereas only 54% of adults with disabilities report the same – a gap of 31 percentage points.
The 2010 survey was conducted using the same basic sampling approach and methodology as previous years' research. For the majority of the survey questions, the findings are based on two samples, both of which were conducted by telephone:
(1) a national cross-section of 1,001 adults with disabilities and (2) a national cross-section of 788 adults without disabilities. These interviews took place between May 5 and June 3, 2010. When a person with a disability was unavailable for an interview or unable to be interviewed, a proxy from the same household who was best qualified to answer questions about that person was chosen to complete the interview. Overall, 10% of the interviews were conducted with proxies. In the case of findings on employment among people with disabilities, the data is based off of employed people ages 18 to 64 from the national cross-section, as well as an oversample of 315 people with disabilities in the labor force which was conducted online using sample from the Harris Poll Online panel. All of the results were weighted to be representative of the general population ages 18 and over with and without disabilities.