Disabilities & the Census: Be Counted!
The decennial census officially
commenced on January 20thin Noorvik, Alaska — a remote Inupiat Eskimo
village north of the Arctic Circle with a population of about 700. Unlike most
American citizens who will receive the census form through the mail in March,
the Inupiat Eskimos, due to the isolation and topography of their village (it
is reachable only when the ground is frozen) are counted in person. As the Census Bureau works to ensure
these individuals are counted, it has also done extensive preparation for
individuals who face a variety of hurdles in responding to the census. Because February is Jewish Disability
Awareness Month, let’s take a look at how the Census Bureau is preparing to reach out
to individuals with disabilities.
On the 2010 census website, a series of
specialized toolkits facilitate outreach to more than 20 specialized
groups. From college students to
faith organizations, from immigrants to the elderly, from veterans to the
disabled, these resources explain how individuals benefit from the census, the
resources available to help them respond, and some fun facts. For instance, did you know that people
with disabilities represent the third largest market segment of the US economy,
surpassing Hispanics, African Americans and Asian Americans, as well as
Generation X and teens? That
statistic wowed me!
To ensure that all people are counted, the Census Bureau sets up
Questionnaire Assistance Centers (QAC) to assist those who have trouble reading
or understanding the form. Language Assistance Guides are available in large print and in Braille
and a special Video Relay Service (VRS) for the deaf and hard-of-hearing can be
reached at 1-866-783-2010.
So, why is it so important that EVERYONE be counted? What, for instance, do people with disabilities
stand to gain from an accurate census?
Census data directly affects how more than $400 billion per year in
federal funding is distributed to state, local and tribal governments. This money includes funding for health
centers, planning and construction of facilities for people with disabilities,
transportation services, and community-based health care initiatives. Census
data also helps guide all levels of government on the implementation and
evaluation of programs and enforcement of laws like the Equal Employment
Opportunity Act and the Fair Housing Act.
This year’s decennial census is the shortest in history – just 10 questions! Learn about all
the resources available to make sure that you are counted.