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Landes Comments on US Census Bureau Changes to Questions About Disabilities in AP Article

December 8, 2023

STAT,The Associated Press

Scott Landes

Scott Landes

The U.S. Census Bureau wants to change how it asks people about disabilities. Disability advocates say the change would artificially reduce their numbers by almost half. At stake are not only whether people with disabilities get vital resources for housing, schools or program benefits but whether people with disabilities are counted accurately in the first place.

The bureau has spent time, money and energy trying to improve counts of racial and ethnic minorities who have been historically undercounted, but the statistical agency seems willing to adapt questions that will shortchange the numbers of people with disabilities, says Scott Landes, associate professor of sociology and O'Hanley Faculty Scholar.

“This, in my mind, is illogical,” Landes, who is visually impaired, says. “There is a piece of me that thinks, ‘How dare you—to think that we don’t count.’ I get offended.”

Read more in the Associated Press article, “Census Bureau wants to change how it asks about disabilities. Some advocates don’t like it.”

Landes also co-authored an article, “The next Census could undercount the number of disabled Americans by 20 million,” that was published in STAT.

“As disabled people, and as scholars who study disability measurement and use disability data for our research, we have grave concerns about this proposed change,” says Landes and his co-author, Bonnielin Swenor. “If the Census changes its disability questions it will artificially reduce national estimates of disability almost by half, by the bureau’s own estimate.”

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