Measuring Disability in the Census Bureau: Policy Implications and Opportunities

Washington , District of Columbia
Thursday, February 22, 2024 1:00 pm to 2:00 pm

In October, the US Census Bureau announced a proposal to change the way it measures disability that would have reduced the official disabled population estimate nearly in half. But after significant feedback from researchers and the disability community, the bureau announced in February 2024 that it would put that proposal on hold to deliberate further. Now, the bureau has the opportunity to meaningfully engage the disability community in exploring how to more accurately and inclusively measure disability in the American Community Survey. Both the current measure and the Census Bureau’s initial proposal rely on functional definitions of disability (e.g., the ability to see, hear, or walk) and exclude millions of Americans, including those with chronic illnesses, psychiatric disabilities, or conditions that affect them intermittently. Accurately estimating the number of disabled Americans is critical for informing public funding decisions, planning resource and program provision, enforcing regulations, and understanding the lived experiences of different groups, as Urban explores in new research. The Urban Institute’s Disability Equity Policy Initiative and the Disability & Philanthropy Forum invite you to join a discussion on the need for an accurate count of disabled people in the US and the policy implications of proposed changes.

Urban Institute
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