CODI: Cornucopia of Disability Information

Americans with Disabilities: Highlights

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Highlights


(The figures in parentheses denote 90-percent confidence intervals.)

Based on interviews conducted during the October 1991-January 1992 period, the number of persons with a disability (primarily defined as a limitation in a functional activity or in a socially defined role or task) was 48.9 (+0.7) million, or 19.4 (+0.3) percent of the total population of 251.8 million. This figure excludes persons living in nursing homes or other institutions. The definition of disability used in this study is broader than that used in other Bureau of the Census reports that show data on disability status. The 1990 census, for example, contained only questions on work disability, mobility limitations, and self-care limitations, and disability estimates from the March Current Population Survey refer only to persons with a work disability. (See Note)

The number of persons with a severe disability (primarily defined as an inability to perform one or more functional activities or one or more socially defined roles or tasks) was 24.1 (+/-0.5) million, or 9.6 (+/-0.2) percent of the population.

The survey collected information on six categories of functional activities including seeing, hearing, speaking, lifting and carrying, climbing stairs, and walking. Among persons 15 years old and over, 34.2 (+/-0.6) million had difficulty performing one or more functional activities. Of this number, 15.2 (+/-0.4) million were unable to perform one or more of these activities.

Among persons 15 years old and over, 9.7 (+/-0.4) million had difficulty seeing the words and letters in ordinary newsprint even when wearing corrective lenses. Of this total, 1.6 (+/-0.1) million could not see such words and letters at all.

The number of persons 15 years old and over who had difficulty hearing what was said in a normal conversation with another person was 10.9 (+/-0.4) million, and 0.9 (+/-0.1) million of these persons were completely unable to hear what was said in such a conversation.

The survey collected information on six categories of Activities of Daily Living (ADL's): getting around inside the home, getting in or out of a bed or chair, taking a bath or shower, dressing, eating, and toileting. The number of persons 15 years old and over reporting some difficulty with one or more ADL's was 7.9 (+/-0.3) million. Of this total, the number who needed personal assistance with one or more ADL's was 3.9 (+/-0.2) million.

Of the 3.9 (+/-0.2) million needing assistance with an ADL, 1.5 (+/-0.1) million needed assistance with one ADL, 0.8 (+/-0.1) million needed assistance with two ADL's, and 1.6 (+/-0.1) million needed assistance with three or more ADL's. (The number needing assistance with one ADL was not statistically different from the number needing assistance with three or more ADL's).

The survey collected information on five categories of Instrumental Activities of Daily Living (IADL's) including going outside the home, keeping track of money and bills, preparing meals, doing light housework, and using the telephone. The number of persons reporting some difficulty with orle or more IADL's was 11.7 (+/-0.4) million. Of this total, the number needing personal assistance was 8.7 (+/-0.3) million. Of the 8.7 (+/-0.3) million needing assistance with an IADL, 3.7 (+/-0.2) million needed assistance with one IADL, 2.0 (+/-0.2) million needed assistance with two IADL's, and 3.1 (+/-0.2) million needed assistance with three or more IADL's.

The number of persons 15 years old and over who needed personal assistance with one or more ADL's or IADL's was 9.2 (+/-0.3) million.

The number of persons 15 years old and over who used a wheelchair was 1.5 (+/-0.1) million. Another 4.0 (+/-0.2) million persons did not use a wheelchair but used a cane, crutches, or a walker and had used such an aid for 6 months or longer.

Of the 48.9 (+/-0.7) million persons with a disability, 6.0 (+/-0.4) percent were less than 15 years old, 60.2 (+/-0.8) percent were 15 to 64 years old, and 33.8 (+/-0.8) percent were 65 years old and over. Among the 24.1 (+/-0.5) million with a severe disability, 2.2 (+/-0.3) percent were under 15, 54.6 (+/-1.2) percent were 15 to 64, and 43.2 (+/-1.2) percent were 65 and over.

Among the 13.2 (+/-0.4) million persons 15 to 64 years old with a severe disability, 48.1 (+/-1.6) percent were covered by private health insurance, 36.2 (+/-2.0) percent were covered by a government plan only (Medicaid or Medicare), and 15.7 (+/-1.1) percent lacked coverage. Among the 16.3 (+/-0.5) million persons 15 to 64 years old with a disability that was not severe, 74.1 (+/-1.2) percent were covered by private health insurance, 7.2 (+/-1.0) percent were covered by a government plan only, and 18.7 (+/-1.1) percent were not covered. For the 135.6 (+/-0.9) million persons in the same age group with no disability, the comparable coverage figures were 80.0 (+/-0.6) percent, 5.2 (+/-0.3) percent and 14.8 (+0.5) percent. There was no statistically significant difference in the percentage of persons lacking coverage between those with a severe disability and those with no disability.

Among persons 21 to 64 years old, the employment rate was 80.5 (+/-0.3) percent for persons with no disability, 76.0 (+/-1.3) percent for persons with a disability that was not severe, and 23.2 (+/-1.4) for persons with a severe disability.

Among selected groups within the 21 to 64 years age group, the employment rate was 48.6 (+/-1.4) percent among persons with afunctional limitation, 27.6 (+/-2.1) percent among persons with a severe functional limitation, and 20.6 (+/-2.4) percent among persons who needed personal assistance with one or more ADL's or IADL's.

Among persons 15 years old and over with a physical, ADL, or IADL limitation, the conditions most frequently cited as a cause of a limitation were arthritis or rheumatism (17.1 (+/-0.7) percent of all conditions cited), back or spine problems (13.5 (+/-0.6) percent), heart trouble (11.1 (+/-0.6) percent), and lung or respiratory trouble (6.8 (+/-0.5) percent).

Among children 0 to 5 years, the proportion with any disability was 3.6 (+0.4) percent and the proportion with a severe disability was 0.5 (+0.2) percent. The comparable figures for children 6 to 14 years of age were 6.3 (+0.5) percent and 1.3 (+0.2) percent.

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