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The decennial sample survey no longer collects information on disability.  The decennial sample survey, which previously collected information on disability, has been replaced by the American Community Survey (ACS) as the primary source of subnational estimates of disability. 

Decennial Census of Population and Housing

While the ACS has replaced the decennial sample survey as the primary source for subnational estimates of disability, users may still need to access Census 2000 or prior data. As will be shown, the disability questions used in the 1990 and 2000 census “long-form” surveys are different from those in the current ACS questionnaires. The Census Bureau cautions users who wish to make direct comparisons between recent ACS estimates and Census 2000 or 1990 Census estimates.

Census 2000

Census 2000 Sample Survey (Long-form) included 2 questions with a total of six subparts with which to identify people with disabilities. The data on disability status were derived from answers to long-form questionnaire items 16 and 17. The questions were as follows:

  • 16. Does this person have any of the following long-lasting conditions:
    • a. Blindness, Deafness, or severe vision or hearing impairments?
    • b. A condition that substantially limits one or more basic physical activities such as walking, climbing stairs, reaching, lifting, or carrying?
  • 17. Because of a physical, mental or emotional condition lasting 6 months or more, does this person have any difficulty in doing any of the following activities:
    • a. Learning, remembering, or concentrating?
    • b. dressing, bathing, or getting around inside the home?
    • c. (ANSWER IF THIS PERSON IS 16 YEARS OLD OR OVER) Going outside the home alone to shop or visit a doctor's office?
    • d. (ANSWER IF THIS PERSON IS 16 YEARS OLD OR OVER) Working at a job or business?

2000 Census Data on Disability

1990 Census

The 1990 Decennial Census Sample Survey (Long-form) included two questions with 2 subparts each with which to identify people with disabilities. They were as follows:

  • 18. Does this person have a physical, mental, or other health condition that has lasted for 6 or more months and which:
    • a. Limits the kind or amount of work this person can do at a job?
    • b. Prevents this person from working at a job?
  • 19. Because of a health condition that has lasted for 6 or more months, does this person have any difficulty:
    • a. Going outside the home alone, for example, to shop or visit a doctor's office?
    • b. Taking care of his or her own personal needs, such as bathing, dressing, or getting around inside the home?

The estimates of the population with a disability from 1990 census are not comparable with the Census 2000 estimate because of differences in these questions. In 1990, the Census Bureau collected data on disability from people 15 years and older; in 2000, the Census Bureau included questions on disability for people 5 years and older.

Methodology for model-based estimates of disability prevalence in the 1990 census as well as Source and Accuracy statements for disability data in the 1990 Census can be found using the links below.

1990 Census Data on Disability

There are also several other Federal data sources that report on characteristics of people with disabilities. For more information see:

Information on employment and other labor force characteristics

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)/National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS)

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