By Julie Arostegui, AAPD Policy Advisor
On November 2, 2011 AAPD co-sponsored, with the University of New Hampshire Institute on Disability (UNH IOD), the First Annual Research-to-Policy Roundtable as part of the rollout of the 2011 Disability Statistics Compendium. The event, which took place on Capitol Hill, brought together disability advocates, policymakers and researchers to discuss ways that research can assist policymakers in developing better coordination between safety net programs and employment services for people with disabilities.
In the morning, representatives from the Center for Disease Control, U.S. Census Bureau, Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and Office of Disability and Employment Policy (ODEP) and the National Center for Health Statistics joined Andrew Houtenville of UNH/IOD to offer an overview of the statistics and give perspectives on data collection.
During the afternoon Research-to-Policy Roundtable, Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) welcomed the group and staffers from the offices of Senator Tom Harken (D-IA), Senator Mike Enzi (R-WY) and Representative George Miller (D-CA) joined AAPD CEO Mark Perriello to offer legislative perspectives and discuss implications of the Disability Statistics Compendium for policy making. The panelists acknowledged the importance of such discussions in providing information to legislators.
The Disability Statistics Compendium annually compiles and reports statistics pertaining to people with all types of disabilities. AAPD works with the University of New Hampshire Institute on Disability (UNH/IOD) to produce the Compendium, a project funded by the National Institute on Disability Research and Rehabilitation.
The 2011 Compendium serves as a reference guide for policymakers, compiling data on the prevalence of disability, employment participation, educational attainment and health status, federal expenditures, and state-level data. Discussion of the statistics focused on a persistent and continuing trend of high unemployment and poverty among people with disabilities. For instance:
• Working-age people with disabilities have a 16.1% unemployment rate, almost double the 8.5% unemployment rate for people without disabilities.
• 27.3% of people aged 18-64 with disabilities who live in the community live in poverty, compared with 12.8% of their counterparts without disabilities.
Reversing this trend must be a high priority. The Roundtable discussion offered a valuable starting point for researchers and advocates to work with policymakers to use disability statistics to make good policy for people with disabilities.