Americans With Disabilities Trail Non-Disabled In Key Life Areas, Benchmark N.O.D./Harris Survey Finds

On the 10th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act,

Hopeful Signs of Progress Reported

Jul 19, 2000, 01:00 ET from National Organization on Disability

    WASHINGTON, July 19 /PRNewswire/ -- The National Organization on
 Disability (N.O.D.) today released the 2000 N.O.D./Harris Survey of Americans
 with Disabilities. The survey reveals persistent gaps in levels of
 participation between people with disabilities and other Americans in
 employment, income, education, socializing, religious and political
 participation, and access to healthcare and transportation. While those with
 disabilities continue to lag generally, the survey also shows encouraging
 progress in some areas, especially among younger people with disabilities and
 among those with less severe disabilities. These latest findings define and
 quantify the gaps that affect the 54 million Americans with disabilities at
 the start of the new millennium, and provide a benchmark for future progress.
 They also highlight the status of people with disabilities on the 10th
 anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act signed by President George
 Bush on July 26, 1990.
     The survey-sponsored by Aetna U.S. Healthcare and The JM Foundation-was
 unveiled by Senator Max Cleland (D-GA) at a press conference at the U.S.
 Capitol today. Senator Cleland called on all Americans to help close the gaps
 and accomplish the goal of the ADA -- the full and equal participation of
 people with disabilities in all aspects of life. "America must do more to
 release the talents and abilities of our citizens with disabilities who want
 to work, participate and contribute to the nation," stated Cleland, a Vietnam
 Veteran who lost three limbs in combat and uses a wheelchair.
     Harris Poll Chairman Humphrey Taylor, who directed surveys on the
 participation of people with disabilities in American life in 1986, 1994, and
 1998 -- highlighted the following gaps:
     Only 32% of disabled people of working age (18-64) work full or part-time
 compared to 81% of the non-disabled population, a gap of 49% points. More than
 two-thirds of those not employed say they would prefer to be working.
     However, among those who say they are able to work despite their
 disability, fully 56% are working, and the 25% gap (81% versus 56%) has
 narrowed steadily from 1994 when only 47% of this group was working.
     People with disabilities are almost three times as likely as people
 without disabilities to live in households with total incomes of $15,000 or
 less (29% compared to 10%).
     People with disabilities are less likely to be registered to vote than
 people without disabilities (62% versus 78%).
 People with disabilities are almost three times as likely as people without
 disabilities to say that inadequate transportation is a problem (30% compared
 to 10%).
     "Closing these gaps is a challenge for all Americans, not just those of us
 with disabilities," said N.O.D. President Alan A. Reich. "We take heart from
 the many hopeful signs in this Harris survey, indicating the success of the
 ADA. Among young people with and without disabilities, age 18-29, the
 employment gap is only 25% and narrowing. Large numbers of people with
 disabilities reported that conditions had improved for them during the past
 four years. This reflects intensive efforts by the disability community,
 employers, and community leaders, as well as advances in technology, and
 greater accessibility. The Americans with Disabilities Act is having an
 impact. We must all work to close the gaps.  This is America's Disability
 Agenda in the new millennium."
     Mr. Taylor commented, "The purpose of this research is not only to measure
 the gaps in key life areas between people with and without disabilities, but
 to provide a benchmark at the year 2000 for measuring future progress and to
 provide information to help close these gaps. I anticipate the results will be
 used by people both inside and outside the disability community, by the media,
 corporate America, legislators and state and federal administrators."
     The National Organization on Disability, founded in 1982, promotes the
 full and equal participation and contribution of America's 54 million men,
 women and children with disabilities in all aspects of life. N.O.D. is funded
 entirely by private donations and accepts no government funding. For more
 information, contact N.O.D. at 202/293-5960; TDD: 202/293-5968; or visit
     The executive summary of the "2000 N.O.D./Harris Survey of Americans with
 Disabilities" is available online at The full report
 (approximately 125 pages including tables and the 35-page survey questionnaire
 showing tabulated responses) will be available in August and may be purchased
 for $95 from the National Organization on Disability.  The charge is $65 for
 disability organizations. For a limited time, media may request complimentary
 copies for reporting and research needs. To order your report, contact N.O.D
 at or 202/293-5960.

SOURCE National Organization on Disability