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Improving Federal Disability Data

Friday, January 9, 2004
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January 9, 2004


Every 10 years, the U.S. Census Bureau conducts a complete accounting of every resident in the United States. While there is no Congressional mandate requiring an accurate enumeration of Americans with disabilities by the Decennial Census, communities and people with disabilities will be affected if the Decennial Census is inaccurate.

At a time when cash strapped states are grappling with major unmet human service needs, and increasing numbers of people who require a range of services and supports from federal-state programs, the ability of our nation’s public leadership is at an all time high to provide accurate Decennial Census (and related federal survey data) to states and locales.

This paper addresses these issues and provides some recommendations for consideration by the Federal Government which include: (a) The U.S. Congress should legislatively require an official and accurate enumeration of Americans with disabilities through the Decennial Census, through related national Census-like efforts (e.g., American Community Survey); (b) The U.S. Census Bureau should immediately revise Census questions for the Year 2010 Census (and the American Community Survey) to reflect the ADA definition; and (c) The Bureau of Labor Statistics should finish its work with all due haste under the Executive Order 13078.

An official website of the National Council on Disability