Tag Archives: American Community Survey

Identifying potential hospital bed shortages for people with disabilities

Recent models from ProPublica, Imperial College, and others predict that millions of people who contract COVID-19 will be hospitalized and many hospitals across the country may not be prepared to treat the influx of patients.

COVID-19 molecule

People with disabilities are particularly vulnerable to impacts from COVID-19, both directly and indirectly. While data about how this virus will impact the health and well-being of people with disabilities is currently limited, people with disabilities are often at greater risk of chronic health conditions, and thus may be more susceptible to infection. People with disabilities also face disruptions in services for daily needs, which could exacerbate conditions unrelated to COVID-19.

Overall, individuals who experience disability are at greater risk for being hospitalized either because they have contracted COVID-19 or because pre-existing health conditions have worsened.


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Recognizing people with disabilities in the COVID-19 pandemic

Understanding the needs of a community is imperative to effectively plan for any type of emergency response, be it natural disaster or a pandemic. As people around the world are dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, the needs of people with disabilities should not be overlooked or go unaddressed as members of those communities. To assess the impact of COVID on people with disabilities and their needs, it’s important to understand the prevalence of disability by the functional limitations of people living with disabilities experience in their communities.  

According to the American Community Survey, about 41 million, or 13%, of Americans have at least one type of disability (ACS 2015). The vast majority (38 million) live in households with other people and a significant number of people with disabilities live in group quarters, which includes dormitories, nursing homes, and prisons.

Approximately 78 million people without disabilities live in households with a member who experiences a disability. This means that nearly 25% of the US population lives in a household with a member with a disability.

(See Prevalence of Disability: Individual and Household Context for more about this research).

Graphic showing information about the number of households in the US with disability. Full text description in caption.
Graphic from poster presentation “How far do you travel for CIL services?” by Kourtney Johnson, Christiane von Reichert, and Lillie Greiman for the 2017 APRIL conference.
Text description: icon of a green house in a circle with this text: Households in the US = 116,926,305. Same green house in a circle icon with three figures, one using a wheelchair, with this text: Households with disability* = 29,344,352, or 25%. *All households in which at least one person has a disability. There could be one, or more, people with disabilities in each household. There is a box around the graphic, and on top of the frame is a small figure using a walker as a mobility aid.

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Research Snapshot: Expanding the Availability and Quality of Rural Data

Lillie Greiman speaking at a conference
Lillie Greiman

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. 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 this, RTC:Rural is conducting rural analyses of existing large data sets to contribute to a national disability statistics resource.

Lillie Greiman, RTC:Rural Project Director, explains the project and its goals, and gives a quick progress update.

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RTC:Rural researchers publish paper on health status and transitory disability

Screenshot of the first page of the journal article "Health status changes with transitory disability over time."RTC:Rural researchers Andrew Myers, Dr. Bryce Ward, Dr. Jennifer Wong, and Dr. Craig Ravesloot recently published a paper in the journal Social Science & Medicine titled “Health status changes with transitory disability over time.”  Myers is a RTC:Rural Project Director, Dr. Bryce Ward is the RTC:Rural Statistician, and Dr. Ravesloot is RTC:Rural Research Director. Dr. Wong is a former RTC:Rural Research Associate and University of Washington research fellow.

This paper builds on previous RTC:Rural research published in the Journal of Rural Health, titled “Transitory and enduring disability among urban and rural people,” and “Disability items from the Current Population Survey (2008-2015) and permanent versus temporary disability status,” published in the American Journal of Public Health. This study was a secondary analysis from a previous RTC:Rural study, which was published in 2016 in the Disability and Health Journal: “Why stay home? Temporal association of pain, fatigue and depression with being at home.”

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Visualizing disability data through maps: RTC:Rural’s state map series

Image of the people with disabilities: Alabama map on top of a background of other maps of Alabama showing different disability data.
Click on the image to view disability maps for the state of Alabama.

RTC:Rural’s Disability in America State Profile Map Series is well underway! We have maps for 17 states posted on the website so far, and more are coming soon. In the next two months general disability maps for every state (for example, Montana and Texas) and Puerto Rico will be complete and available on the RTC:Rural website. Once the general disability rate maps are completed, we will work to produce maps showing different topics for each state. These include:

  • Disability rates among females and males
  • People with vision, cognitive, mobility, self-care, and Independent Living difficulties
  • Veterans with disabilities
  • People with disabilities in poverty
  • Employment, unemployment, and out of labor force rates among people with disabilities
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RTC:Rural fact sheet explores insurance coverage rates before and after ACA and Medicaid expansion

Screenshot of the first page of the ACA and Medicaid Expansion Associated with Increased Insurance Coverage for Rural Americans with Disabilities fact sheet.

The passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) and adoption of Medicaid expansion was associated with substantial increases in insurance coverage across the United States (see Changes in coverage and access, MACPAC 2019). However, RTC:Rural researchers wanted to know how ACA policy changes and Medicaid expansion impacted people with disabilities, particularly those who live in rural areas.

To explore this question, RTC:Rural researchers analyzed microdata from the 2008-2013 American Community Survey from IPUMS-USA. Using these data, they were able to compare how insurance coverage has changed over time for people with and without disabilities in rural and urban places, and in expansion and non-expansion states.

Graphic sharing stats from analysis, which are in previous paragraphs.
[text description] The number of rural people with disabilities with health insurance in expansion states increased by 10.7%. The number of rural people with disabilities with health insurance in non-expansion states increased by 5.3%. Difference = 5.4%.
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People with disabilities living in the path of Hurricane Dorian

Map showing the number of people with disabilities (by county) living in the path of Hurricane Dorian. See text for full description.
Map of people with disabilities in the path of Hurricane Dorian. See below for larger, downloadable version and text description.

Understanding the needs of a community is imperative in order to effectively plan for natural disaster emergency response. As Hurricane Dorian heads toward the Florida coast, national, state and local community emergency planners are working to evacuate and shelter thousands of people who are fleeing their homes.

People with disabilities are one of many vulnerable groups especially at risk during natural disasters. In times of emergency, people will evacuate with their households, and will need to shelter with their households. It is not acceptable to separate families and households in times of crisis. Many family members are caregivers, so shelters need to be accessible so that people with disabilities and their families and caregivers can stay together.

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Research Snapshot: Rural Transportation Options

Quote: "While transportation can be a major problem, uniquely rural solutions exist." Andrew Myers, Rural Transportation Options Project Director

Nearly 30 years after the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act people with disabilities still report transportation as a significant barrier to employment, health care, and community participation. This is especially true in rural communities where public transit may be inaccessible, unaffordable, inappropriate, or not available. While many unique solutions exist, there is a lack of evidence about how people use them and how they impact the health and well-being of people with disabilities.

To address this lack of knowledge, RTC:Rural is conducting research about rural transportation options in rural communities across America.

Andrew Myers, RTC:Rural Project Director, explains the project and its goals, and gives a quick progress update.

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The Return of Map Monday

#MapMonday over a background of colorful maps.Your favorite disability map series has returned!

RTC:Rural is excited to share that we’re relaunching #MapMonday, our weekly map series. Every Monday, we’ll share a new map on our social media channels. Follow RTC:Rural on Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn so you don’t miss a map! (But don’t worry if you do miss one—they’re all available on our website).

In the coming weeks, we’ll share maps with overall disability rates, disability rates by difficulty and functional limitation (such as vision, hearing, mobility, and self-care difficulty), veterans, poverty, and employment rates. Continue reading

RTC:Rural produces fact sheet on employment disparity for rural people with disabilities

screen shot of the first page of the fact sheet. In December 2018 the U.S. Census Bureau released the 2013-2017 American Community Survey summary data. In the recently released fact sheet “Employment disparity grows for rural Americans with disability,” RTC:Rural researchers used this data to begin exploring how employment rates have changed for people with disabilities in the context of changing economic conditions. They found increasing disparities between people with and without disabilities across the country as well as across the rural-urban continuum.

Click the links below to download the fact sheet from the RTC:Rural and Rural Institute ScholarWorks collection:

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