FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is the Annual Disability Statistics Compendium?

    The mission of the Annual Disability Statistics Compendium is to make disability statistics easier to find and use. The Compendium gathers the most recent national statistics on people with disabilities from various federal programs and agencies. The Compendium provides current statistics and time trends related to the prevalence of disabilities as well as key indicators on employment, health, community living, and other outcomes of importance in monitoring the well-being of individuals with disabilities. A series of tables are presented with counts and percentages of people with disabilities in various programs or policy relevant groups. All of the statistics in the Compendium can be found online.

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  • What are the Annual Reports?

    The Annual Report is a complementary publication that uses maps of the United States and visually highlights key state differences and variation from select tables and topics in the Annual Disability Statistics Compendium.

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  • What are the different data sources used in the compendium?

    The Annual Disability Statistics Compendium draws upon a variety of data sources including national surveys such as the American Community Survey, Current Population Survey, and the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System; annual reports such as the Annual Statistical Report and Annual Statistical Supplement from the Social Security Administration; websites from the Census Bureau, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Office of Special Education Programs, Rehabilitation Services Administration, and Bureau of Labor Statistics; and publications on topics including healthcare costs, federal expenditures, and international disability and work statistics.

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  • What are the differences in the disability questions across surveys?

    In national surveys people are identified as having a disability based on self-reported responses to questions regarding difficulties and limitations. Different surveys use different questions based on the specific functions, characteristics, or disabilities they are trying to identify. Beginning in 2008, national surveys began implementing a standardized series of six dichotomous questions asking people to self-report ‘Yes’ or “No’ to having difficulties with hearing, vision, cognition, ambulation, self-care and going outside the home. These questions are discussed in the section text and glossary of the Compendium. Each section of the Compendium highlights the questions used to identify people with disabilities pertaining to the tables presented.

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  • What is the definition of disability?

    The definition of disability varies depending on the goals and mission of the organization, program or agency. In the Annual Disability Statistics Compendium people are identified or considered to have a disability if they answer affirmatively to questions about difficulties in national surveys or participate or qualify for programs and supports provided by the federal government. Each section of the Compendium discusses the definition of disability relevant to the data source and topic presented. Additional information about specific definitions can be found in the glossary and on the website in the source for each table.

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  • Why do we use so many data sources in the compendium?

    Disability is a complex experience. Many agencies and programs are involved in the services people with disabilities receive. Multiple national surveys are needed to capture all of the information used to understand the supports needed by people with disabilities. The Annual Disability Statistics Compendium is an effort to consolidate and summarize these statistics in one document.

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  • How can I get more information on the data sources in the compendium?

    Basic information about each data source can be found in the section text and glossary of the Annual Disability Statistics Compendium. Each table in the Compendium also has a source, found beneath each table, with the website where the program or agency involved gather data for a given topic. This website is affiliated with the agency or program that collects the data and can be searched for additional information.

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  • What is a survey sample?

    In statistics, a sample is usually a randomly selected group of people. In national surveys, people are randomly selected in groups designed to represent the entire United States. This means that groups of people are randomly selected from various cities, states, and regions throughout the country so that the entire population of the United States is represented in a sample for a given year. In national reports from federal programs, such as the Social Security Administration and Rehabilitation Services Administration, the sample is the group of people who utilize or are supported by the program of interest.

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  • What is sample variation?

    Sample variation is the variability involved in randomly selecting a group of people over and over again. Simply put, if you randomly select one-hundred people from a group of one-thousand people more than once, it is likely that each group will not contain the same exact people each time. Although each group of one-hundred people can be used to represent the one-thousand people from which it is drawn, there will be some differences in each sample. In national surveys that randomly select a group of people across the country to represent the United States there will be some variability every year explained by sample variation. Although the data from each year of a national survey represents the United States and may show any trends or changes from year to year, there are some differences from year to year explained by sample variation. In the Annual Disability Statistics Compendium a number of the table sources include a statement regarding sampling variation to acknowledge this phenomenon.

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  • Why are there different counts and percentages of people with disabilities depending on the data source used in the compendium?

    Due to factors related survey sampling and variation (see ‘What is a survey sample?” and “What is sample variation?” in the FAQ) surveys will produce different counts of percentages of people with disabilities for the United States and states. These differences reflect sampling variation and survey design effects related to how a survey is designed and administered. Some data sources are limited to groups of people with disabilities supported by a specific agency or program (such as the Social Security Administration or United States Department of Education) and only reflect people with disabilities in that program.

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  • Why do some states have counts or percentages of zero for people with disabilities?

    National statistics are based on a sample of the population. Due to the nature of sampling and variation (see ‘What is a survey sample?” and “What is sample variation?” in the FAQ) surveys will produce counts and percentages of zero for people with disabilities for specific age groups and states where there are very few people. For example, state-specific samples of people ages 5 to 17 are often small enough that a survey will not capture anyone with a specific disability type (such as a visual or hearing disability).

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  • Why have some tables in the compendium not been updated for several years?

    While the Annual Disability Statistics Compendium makes every effort to find and present the most recent national statistics available, not every report is produced annually. Depending on when data is published throughout the year, the Compendium may also be one or two years behind the most currently available data.

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  • Who can I contact about questions I have about the Annual Disability Statistics Compendium or Annual Report?

    Questions about the Annual Disability Statistics Compendium and Annual Report or assistance in interpreting statistics and locating additional statistics is available via our toll-free number, 866.538.9521, or by e-mail, disability.statistics@unh.edu.

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