Disability Counts Data Definitions

The following information provides details on the data available from RTC:Rural’s Disability Counts Data Finder. The data used covers the years 2011-2015, and consists of the most recent 5-year estimates for all counties in the US.

American Community Survey Disability Indicator Questions

The American Community Survey (ACS) uses questions related to difficulty and functional impairment to identify individuals who may experience a disability (ACS Table S1810). The data presented from the Disability Counts Data Finder for the different types of disability reflects the following responses:

Rate of Vision Difficulty

Percentage of general population reporting a vision difficulty. For vision difficulty the ACS asks if a respondent is blind or has serious difficulty seeing, even when wearing glasses. If they answer “yes” they are classified as having a vision difficulty. This data is for all ages.

Rate of Hearing Difficulty

Percentage of general population reporting a hearing disability. For hearing difficulty the ACS asks if a respondent is deaf or has serious difficulty hearing. If they answer “yes” they are classified as having a hearing difficulty. This data is for all ages.

Rate of Cognitive Difficulty

Percentage of general population reporting a cognitive disability (ages 5 yrs +). For cognitive difficulty the ACS asks “because of a physical, mental, or emotional problem, does the respondent have difficulty remembering, concentrating, or making decisions?” If they answer “yes” they are classified as having a cognitive difficulty. This data is for ages 5 and up.

Rate of Mobility Difficulty

Percentage of general population reporting a mobility disability (ages 5 yrs +). For ambulatory (i.e. mobility) difficulty the ACS asks if a respondent has serious difficulty walking or climbing stairs. If they answer “yes” they are classified as having a mobility difficulty. This data is for ages 5 and up.

Rate of Self Care Difficulty

Percentage of general population reporting a self care disability (ages 5 yrs +). For self-care difficulty the ACS asks if a respondent has difficulty bathing or dressing. If they answer “yes” they are classified as having a self-care difficulty. This data is for ages 5 and up.

Rate of Independent Living Difficulty

Percentage of general population reporting an independent living disability (ages 18 yrs +). For independent living difficulty the ACS asks because of a physical, mental, or emotional problem, does the respondent have difficulty doing errands alone such as visiting a doctor’s office or shopping. If they answer “yes” they are classified as having an independent living difficulty. The data presented here is for ages 18 and up, however the ACS collects this data for ages 15 and up.

Disability Rates among Certain Populations

According to the ACS definitions, if a respondent aged 15 years and older answered “yes” to any of the six disability indicator questions listed above, they are classified as having a disability. For children under 5 years old, only hearing and vision difficulty are used to determine disability status. For children between the ages of 5 and 14, disability status is determined from hearing, vision, cognitive, mobility (i.e. ambulatory), and self-care difficulties.

Disability Rate of all Americans

Percentage of general population reporting a disability.

Disability Rate among Males

Percentage of the male population reporting a disability.

Disability Rate among Females

Percentage of female population reporting a disability.

Disability Rate among Veterans

Percentage of veteran population reporting a disability (ages 18 yrs +).

Employment and Poverty Status of People with Disabilities

The following information is from the American Community Survey 5-year data employment estimates (Table C18120) and poverty estimates (Table S1810) by disability type. These indicate employment and poverty status for those people who answered “yes” to one of the six disability indicator questions listed above.

Disability Employment Rate

Percentage of disability population that is employed in the labor force (ages 18-64 yrs).

Disability Unemployment Rate

Percentage of disability population that is in the labor force but unemployed (ages 18-64 yrs).

Disability Out of the Labor Force Rate

Percentage of disability population not in the labor force (ages 18-64 yrs).

Disability Poverty Rate

Percentage of disability population living in poverty.

Questions?

We are happy to provide technical assistance if you have questions about the data included in the Disability Counts Data Finder, or how to use it. Please feel free to contact us!