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The hallaark of the disability rights and independent living movements is the assurance of equal access to all activities society offers, both work and leisure-related. Over 30 aillion people with disabilities accept responsibility for their work, family, and individual lives. Their substantial contribution to society can be attributed both to personal competence and to the strengths of those comaunities that foster and support attempts to live independently. However, there are still many physical and social barriers that liait adequate jobs, housing. accessible transportation, and other needed services. These community probleas thwart even the most heroic personal attempts to pursue a full life.

This report outlines the major problems in compunities that limit independence. It also provides alternatives for action from the perspective of people with disabilities. This report summarizes quantitative data from over 17.000 people with disabilities in 12 states and provides qualitative information about the issues and options they identified during local town meetings and public


Thus, this report is a compendiua of common concerns of

people with disabilities and their insights into what actions would

help assure equality of opportunity.

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The concerns Report Method This report on Common Concerns of Disabled Americans is based on research conducted by the Research and Training Center on Independent Living using the Concerns Report Method. The Concerns Report Method provides quantitative data about congunity features and issues that affect people with disabilities. It uso yields qualitative information about consumers' local experiences with these issues and their suggested alternatives for improvement.

This report sungarizes Information generated from the three group processes that make up the concerns Report Method: the working group, the Concerns Survey, and the town meeting. Local working groups--composed of people with representative disabilities-reviewed a nenu of possible concerns. They then selected approximately 30 issues to appear on each of the 21 unique Concerns Surveys. Each survey iten asked for ratings of importance on an issue and satisfaction with that issue (See Appendix i for an example and computational forbulas). Questionnaires were administered to all identified citizens with disabilities in the . local community or state. Average scores for importance and satisfaction were used to identify relative strengths (1.e., itens of high importance and high satisfaction) and possible problees (1.e., itens of high Laportance and low satisfaction). Finally. qualitative information was obtained when the results of each survey were discussed in town meetings. Disabled citizens discussed major issues, identifying specific dimensions of issues and generating possible solutions.

Appendix 2 provides a denographic profile of respondents by disability type, age, Incone, percentage of registered voters. and educational level.

To date, 17.039 people with disabilities have completed one of 21 dirferent surveys using the Disabled Citizens Concerns Report Method. Participants came from 487 communities in 12 different states. Sponsoring organizations included independent living centers (ILCs), state vocational rehabilitation agencies (VR), and consumer advisory committees. Local surveys were developed in California, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, and Montana. Statewide applications occurred in Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, North Dakota, Oklahona, South Dakota, and Wyoning. This suasary report is based on a review of work conducted during the past 7 years.

Major Problems Identified by Disabled Americans

This section provides a summary of issues identified as major problens. Problems are organized alphabetically under category headings, such as housing or transportation. Under each category. problematic aspects are noted as well as the total number of participants who responded to surveys in which that issue was chosen as a top problem. The overall average importance and satisfaction ratings (where 100% is highest and 0% is lowest) for all respondents are also presented. Appendix 1 presents the specific survey itens in each category, the community or state survey in which they were selected, the number of respondents, and the average importance and satisfaction ratings for each survey.

Summaries follow for each of 19 issue categories: assistive devices, commercial services (accessibility). commercial services

(discounts). Community support and responsiveness, disability rights and advocacy, education, employment (accommodations,

disincentives, and training). employment discrimination, employment opportunities, handicapped parking, health care (affordability and availability), housing (affordability, availability, and accessibility). Insurance for auto, life, and liability, insurance for health care, media portrayal. and public information, public

access, social services and benefits, transportation (availability

and affordability), and utility bills.

The issue of assistive devices (e.g., wheelchairs) involves

aspects such as affordability, availability of financial assistance, cost of services and repair, cost of rental, and price. Six related

survey itens were chosen by consumers and responded to by 8.409

people with disabilities in 8 different surveys. The issues received consistently high importance ratings, an average of 81%. and relatively low satisfaction ratings, an average of 41%. Consuser-Identified Dimensions • Assistive devices, such as wheelchairs, are very expensive.

Most people with disabilities do not have enough aoney

to purchase devices. • Rental of assistive devices, such as wheelchairs, is almost

nonexistent. If rental is possible, consumers don't know where to go or have needed information.

Medicaid and Medicare do not cover all assistive devices.

Consumer-Generated Alternatives

• Change legislation regarding Medicaid and Medicare to cover

purchase and repair of assistive devices.


The issue of accessibility of businesses, particularly public restrooas, has been selected as a problem in 3 different surveys.

Two related survey itens were responded to by 299 consumers.


issues were rated with an average importance of 87% and an average

satisfaction rating of 47%.

Consumer-Identified Dimensions

• In sany businesses and restaurants, the restrooms are inaccessible.

• The restroom doors are too hard to push, and the stalls are too


Consumer-Generated Alternatives

Make a list of accessible and responsive businesses.

· Survey businesses and provide feedback and suggestions.

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