Oregonians with Disabilities and Varying Abilities
Oregonians living with varying abilities are often overlooked but in 2020 the disability community in Oregon is counting on you. State leaders and elected officials rely on accurate census data to make funding decisions that impact the lives of Oregon’s disabled community. For those of us living with disabilities—we must be counted so that we can have the resources and political representation we need to live our best lives.
When talking about health care, women’s rights, transportation justice, education access, civil rights, and human rights, we need to make sure disability rights are part of the conversation.
We need to make sure disability rights are part of the conversation.
The number of people counted in the census directly correlates to the amount of funding for programs that serve us like Medicaid, SNAP, Section 8 and programs for Oregon’s disabled community:
- The Protection and Advocacy (P&A) program that provides legal, administrative, and other services to people with disabilities
- State Councils on Developmental Disabilities (SSDD)
- Statewide Independent Living Councils (SILCs)
- Title I grants that are used to fund a variety of supplementary educational and related services, including services for students with disabilities
- The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) which requires states to provide free, appropriate public education to students with disabilities
These programs are crucial for those of us with disabilities that impact our daily life, or those of our children, friends, and family.
When surveyed individuals living with disabilities listed several reasons for not filling out the Census including:
- “I don’t think the census has an impact on my life.”
- “I don’t feel comfortable sharing personal information.”
- “I have trouble completing forms.”
- “I’m worried information will be used against me.” Participants were concerned that personal information provided to the census could interfere with Social Security, Medicaid, and other benefits. This is of particular concern when people have waited years to get an eligibility determination to receive lifesaving supports or services.
As a person living in Oregon with a disability when you fill out the Census, you are helping give a voice and resources to all Oregonians with disabilities, by showing there is a need for the services you and they depend on.
Of course, people with sensory disabilities need web-based information in accessible formats, such as screen reader-friendly or in American Sign Language (ASL). Braille and large print guides will be available to respondents to assist with self-response. The Census Bureau also plans to make print guides available. Language guides will also be available in 59 non-English languages, including an American Sign Language video guide.
Ableism is a serious issue and it’s critical that those of us with disabilities are counted. More than any other population, we require significant medical programming, education supports, and nuanced life support and employment legislation. Our voices are critical to ensuring we receive the resources we need to live our fullest lives regardless of our abilities.
Census data helps advocates, community leaders, and elected officials address disparities in housing, health care, employment, and education. Fair proportionate voting representation depends on valid census data, as does the enforcement of voting rights laws. As such, an accurate census count is essential in ensuring people with disabilities who need these necessary supports and services participate in the census.
Download our toolkit!
Download our Oregonians with Disabilities Toolkit for additional resources for sharing information about taking the Census.