Results of survey of 1,000 adults with disabilities

Wed, 26 Aug 1998 10:28:48 -0400


New Landmark Harris Survey Shows Little Improvement
WASHINGTON, D.C., July 23, 1998

Americans with disabilities still face gaps in securing jobs, education,
accessible public transportation and in many areas of daily life
including recreation and worship. Those findings were presented in a
new U.S. survey of 1,000 adults with disabilities announced today at a
Washington, D.C. news conference by the National Organization on
Disability (N.O.D.).

For disability advocates, these findings are disturbing yet motivating
for public and private decision-makers. The findings, commissioned by
N.O.D in cooperation with Louis Harris & Associates, define the current
status of persons with disabilities in American life.

The highlights of the 1998 N.O.D./Harris Survey of Americans with
Disabilities released today queried adults with disabilities, early this
year (with a sampling error of plus or minus 4 percentage points). This
survey is the first such national poll taken by Harris in cooperation with
N.O.D. since 1994, and the third conducted by Harris since 1986.

Among the most startling findings about the workforce, the research
exposed significant gaps between the employment rates of the working
disabled versus the working non-disabled.

Only 29% of disabled persons of working age (18-64) work full or
part-time, compared to 79% of the non-disabled population, a gap of 50
percentage points. Of those with disabilities of working age who are
not working, 72% say that they would prefer to work.

Fully a third (34%) of adults with disabilities live in households with
total income of $15,000 or less, compared to only 12% of those without

Approximately one in five (20%) of adults with disabilities have not
completed high school compared to 9% of adults with no disabilities.

Alan A. Reich, President of N.O.D. stated, "These gaps are
unconscionable. America must do better!" He added, "At a time when the
U.S. unemployment rate is at an historic low and there is a crying need
for workers, it is astounding to learn that the employment gap remains
so wide. As the survey shows, over 72% of people with disabilities out
of the workforce want to work and contribute to the economy. America
must remove attitudinal and physical barriers in the workplace and in
all other areas of life."

Humphrey Taylor, Chairman of Louis Harris & Associates, commented, "The
purpose of this research is not just to measure the gaps in key life
areas between people with and without disabilities, but to provide
information to help close them. I anticipate that the results will be
used by people both inside and outside the disability community, with
the media, with corporate America, legislators and state and federal

This survey is rich with information stemming from the answers to 145
questions on life activities considered most important to people with

Other findings include:

Only one-third (33%) of adults with disabilities are very satisfied with
life in general, compared to 61% of the non-disabled population.

Only seven out of ten (69%) adults with disabilities socialize with
close friends, relatives or neighbors at least once a week, compared to
more than eight out of ten (84%) among the non-disabled, a gap of 15
percentage points.

About a third (33%) of adults with disabilities go to a restaurant at
least once a week, compared to six out of ten (60%) of those without
disabilities, a gap of 27 percentage points.

Inadequate transportation is identified as a problem by 30% of adults
with disabilities. However, only 17% of non-disabled adults consider
daily transportation a problem in any way, representing a gap of 13
percentage points.

What can Americans do to close these participation gaps? According to
Reich, "A lot. Each of us can help eliminate the gaps in participation
by finally focusing on the abilities not disabilities of every


John Gugerty
Senior Outreach Specialist
Center on Education and Work
University of Wisconsin
1025 West Johnson Street, #964
Madison, WI 53706-1796

Phone: 608-263-2724
Fax: 608-262-3050

Forwarded by Susan Carter

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