Washington, D.C. June 24, 2004 – Americans with disabilities are at a critical disadvantage compared to other Americans in ten key areas of life, according to the 2004 National Organization on Disability/Harris Survey of Americans with Disabilities, but there is slow progress in the indicators, which Harris has tracked since 1986. Some findings:
Only 35 percent of people with disabilities reported being employed full or part time, compared to 78 percent of those who do not have disabilities.
Three times as many live in poverty with annual household incomes below $15,000 (26 percent versus 9 percent).
People with disabilities remain twice as likely to drop out of high school (21 percent versus 10 percent).
They are twice as likely to have inadequate transportation (31 percent versus 13 percent), and a much higher percentage go without needed health care (18 percent versus 7 percent).
People with disabilities are less likely to socialize, eat out, or attend religious services than their non-disabled counterparts.
Although 22 percent of employed people with disabilities report encountering job discrimination, this is a dramatic drop from 36 percent four years ago.
The severity of disability makes a significant difference in all of the gap areas, and people with severe disabilities have much greater disadvantages.
"Progress is too slow, and the gaps are still too large," said National Organization on Disability President Alan A. Reich,
"... Our goal of full participation is a dream deferred. I hope that the findings we are releasing today will inspire legislators, public officials, and the American people to rededicate themselves to this goal. A fifth of Americans have disabilities; everyone knows people with disabilities; and anyone can acquire a disability at any time. Everyone has a stake in these findings."