It was reported that nearly 60 million Americans were living with a disability. With such a substantial portion of the U.S. population falling under this umbrella, we wanted to take a closer look at these numbers and breakdown the socio-political and financial impacts that the disabled community has on the U.S., as well as some tips on how to improve your quality of life moving into 2017.

Employment and Workforce

  • 34% of the total U.S. working population reported having at least one disability.
  • The U.S. unemployment rate for those with a disability is 9.2, with Wyoming and Washington, D.C. having the highest (15.2%), and North Dakota having the lowest unemployment rate (4.2%).
  • 1,185,300 out of 12,914,500 persons aged 21 to 64 years with a disability in the United States who were not working, were actively looking for work in 2014.
  • An estimated 21.6 percent of persons aged 21 to 64 years with a disability in the United States were full-time employees. Wyoming had the highest percentage of disabled full-time employees with 35.7%, and the U.S. commonwealth, Puerto Rico, had the lowest with 14.5%.

Working with a Disability

For many, getting back into the workforce can be somewhat of an uphill struggle. There are several things to keep in mind that will help you along the process of transitioning into the workforce smoothly:

  • Make sure that your place of employment adheres to any and all accommodations mandated by the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA), which can include proper handicap entrances and exits, and workspaces that safely accommodate wheelchairs and medical equipment.
  • Contact your preferred occupational therapist and have them outline the best plan of action. Planning out flexible work hours, necessary adaptations and other accommodations.
  • Be aware of any disability laws in your state that could affect the conditions of your employment. Not only are you entitled to certain accommodations, but there could also be other legal requirements in place that will make your transition easier. If you have specific questions about your legal options, contact a professional disability or labor attorney.

Education and Military Service

  • 3.7 percent persons aged 21 to 64 years with a disability in the United States have an educational attainment of a BA degree or higher. Washington, D.C. has the highest with 20%, and West Virginia with the lowest at 9%.
  • Of the 9,750,600+ civilian veterans, nearly 26% reported having a service-connected disability rating of 70% or higher. A service-connected disability is any disease or injury determined to have occurred in or to have been aggravated by military service.
  • Nearly 30% reported having a service-connected disability rating of 20% or less, meaning a third of the disabled veterans population felt their service contributed to 20% or less of their overall disability.

Going Back to School

When pursuing your education, or going back after a long break, there are ways to settle back into the fold, while still getting all the accommodations you need to become a successful student:

  • Consider online classes. If it’s a situation where mobility or transportation is severely limited, there are plenty of online education options that allow you to get a robust education without having to sacrifice convenience.
  • Make sure that whichever institutions you choose have the right accommodations. There are provisions within the ADA that can help you get the most out of your education.
  • Most colleges and universities have specialized departments that work with people with disabilities. Consult them to learn more about your options before applying the any school.
  • There’s no doubt as to the positive role that those living with disabilities have played on the economic development of the U.S., which is why we work tirelessly to provide the best resources and services for those affected, as well as serve as an advocate for parity within the disabled community.

    Source: Disability Statistics from the 2014 American Community Survey (ACS).

    The National Mobility Equipment Dealers Association (NMEDA) is an advocate for mobility and accessibility for drivers with disabilities. If you need help with converting or buying a handicap accessible car, truck or van, please consider one of our Quality Assurance Program mobility equipment dealers.

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