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Census 2020: Making Sure People with Disabilities are Counted

In addition to logistical, social and structural barriers, people with disabilities face widespread economic inequity, cultural isolation, and discrimination in education and employment. (USAF)
In addition to logistical, social and structural barriers, people with disabilities face widespread economic inequity, cultural isolation, and discrimination in education and employment. (USAF)
February 5, 2020

DENVER -- People with disabilities make up 22% of the American public, but they remain largely undercounted in the U.S. Census Bureau's once-a-decade population tally.

The Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition is just one group working to get an accurate count in this year's census. In Colorado, $13 billion a year, for a broad range of programs, is at stake. Judy McCree Carrington, the coalition's census coordinator, said taking part is critical to ensuring that all Coloradans get the medical care, education, transportation and other services they need.

"Historically, people with disabilities have been undercounted during the census," she said. "Being undercounted means less funding, less representation, and often misguided business decisions in our Colorado communities."

Some people have shied away from being counted, concerned that personal information could interfere with Social Security or other benefits, especially when they've waited years to receive critical services. Participation by people with disabilities goes up when surveys are conducted in partnership with trusted community groups and when people can fill out the forms in churches or community centers.

The census form doesn't record a person's disability status, and the Census Bureau never shares personal information with Social Security or other government agencies. By federal law, all data is protected and records are confidential. Carrington said she hopes this year's census numbers demonstrate just how much people with disabilities count in Colorado.

"The survey only takes 10 minutes and could determine funding for the next 10 years," she said. "It's safe, easy and secure. This census, let's make sure we're counted."

By April 1, all households will receive an invitation to participate in the census, and forms can be completed online or by calling a toll-free phone number, where people also can request Braille, large-print and American Sign Language versions of the census form.

Tips on how to respond to the census are online at 2000census.gov, and information about the census is available in English and Spanish.

Eric Galatas, Public News Service - CO