QUESTION: How many people with disabilities are there in the United States?
According to the U. S. Census Bureau, about 49.7 million Americans have a disability, which includes people of all ages. About two-thirds of these individuals have a severe disability.
QUESTION: How many people with disabilities are working?
In 2005, the employment rate of working-age adults ages 21-64 with disabilities was 38 percent, compared to 78 percent for adults without disabilities (2005 ACS data reported in StatsRRTC 2005).
QUESTION: How many people with disabilities want to work?
In 2004, 63 percent of unemployed people with disabilities ages 18-64 would prefer to be working compared to 42 percent of people without disabilities (Harris Interactive 2004).
QUESTION: How does the federal government define "disability"?
The definition of "disability" varies depending on the purpose for which it is being used. Federal and state agencies generally use a definition that is specific to a particular program or service. For example:
For purposes of nondiscrimination laws (e.g., the Americans with Disabilities Act, Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and Section 188 of the Workforce Investment Act), a person with a disability is generally defined as someone who (1) has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more "major life activities," (2) has a record of such an impairment, or (3) is regarded as having such an impairment.
State vocational rehabilitation (VR) offices will find a person with a disability to be eligible for VR services if he or she has a physical or mental impairment that constitutes or results in a "substantial impediment" to employment for the applicant.
QUESTION: What is National Disability Employment Awareness Month?
Congress designated each October as National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM). The Office of Disability Employment Policy has the lead in planning NDEAM activities and materials to increase the public's awareness of the contributions and skills of American workers with disabilities. Various programs carried out throughout the month also highlight the specific employment barriers that still need to be addressed and removed.
This effort to educate the American public about issues related to disability and employment actually began in 1945, when Congress enacted a law declaring the first week in October each year "National Employ the Physically Handicapped Week." In 1962, the word "physically" was removed to acknowledge the employment needs and contributions of individuals with all types of disabilities. In 1988, Congress expanded the week to a month and changed the name to "National Disability Employment Awareness Month."