Expanding the Availability and Quality of Rural Data

A group of people gathered around a picnic table in a park. Some of them are using wheelchairs, and one man is an amputee.

Picture from Healthy Community Living (www.healthycommunityliving.com).

In order to create policies and programs that serve the needs of people with disabilities in rural communities, it is important to know things about them, such as demographic information and location. The federal government maintains several large data sets that collect this information. These include the American Community Survey, the Current Population Survey, the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, and the Survey on Health Reform and Disability. However, it can be difficult to access rural disability data from these data sets (see Data Limitations in the American Community Survey: The Impact on Rural Disability Research).

To address these issues, RTC:Rural is partnering with the Disability Statistics and Demographics Rehabilitation and Research Training Center (StatsRRTC) to conduct rural analyses of existing large data sets. These rural analyses will help describe the experiences of rural people with disabilities, and can be used to inform advocates, service providers, researchers and policymakers about emerging trends, hypotheses and policy impacts.