Poll Shows People With Disabilities Still At Disadvantage
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
June 28, 2004
WASHINGTON, DC--Americans with disabilities still face high rates of unemployment, poverty, and discrimination, along with low rates of high school completion and general life satisfaction, according to the results of a poll released last Thursday.
The 2004 National Organization on Disability/Harris Survey of Americans with Disabilities compiled data collected from interviewing more than 2000 people. The results were revealed at a hearing by the House Government Reform Subcommittee on Human Rights and Wellness. Actor Robert David Hall, from the CBS-TV series "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation", spoke at the hearing.
"Depending on the severity and type of disability that one has, some doors open but certain other doors close," said Hall, who lost both legs in a 1978 highway accident, and whose character on the show is also a double amputee. "The N.O.D./Harris Survey does a good job of pointing out these societal problems and highlights the real gaps we face as citizens with disabilities."
Surveyors found that 35 percent of respondents with disabilities had jobs, compared to 78 percent of those who do not have disabilities. Twenty-six percent of those with disabilities live in poverty with yearly incomes below $15,000, compared to nine percent of people without disabilities. They are also more than twice as likely to drop out of high school, have adequate transportation or go without needed health care.
And while 61 percent of people without disabilities say they are very satisfied with their lives, only 34 percent of those with disabilities report being very satisfied. Many are worried about their futures, especially their health.
On a more positive note, only 22 percent of those with disabilities that have jobs said that they had encountered discrimination, compared with 36 percent in 2000. Also, 56 percent of respondents in this survey said that they identify with other people who have disabilities, which is up from 47 percent four years ago. More have also found technology to be an important part of their independence.
"There's much work to be done," Mary Dolan, vice president of N.O.D., told USA Today. "On a daily basis, people with disabilities are not fulfilling their potential. That's something we take very seriously."
The entire text of the survey is scheduled to be released in August.
"Landmark Disability Survey Finds Pervasive Disadvantages" (National Organization on Disability)
Chairman Burton to Examine the Status of Living with Disabilities in the U.S. (House Committee on Government Reform)