By Rafael Rolon-Muniz
The accuracy of the Census is important for people with disabilities, but a history of low response rates remain a concern for us all. Recently, a decision was made to extend deadlines of the 2020 Census in recognition of the disruption of activities due to COVID-19. While this is a good step forward to ensuring a more accurate count, organizations like the National Association of Councils on Developmental Disabilities (NACDD), the National Disability Rights Network (NDRN), Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund (DREDF), and The Arc of the United States, American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD), Rooted in Rights, the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) and the Autistic Self Advocacy Network (ASAN) have united to call on the Census Bureau to take additional action and encourage all Americans to take part in the 2020 Census in order to be counted.
It is imperative for the Census Bureau to collect the most up to date and accurate data on people with disabilities. So what is the Census and why does it matter? The Census is the constitutionally mandated count of all residents in the United States that takes place every 10 years. The Census data helps direct more than $800 billion a year in federal funding to all states and territories, including for crucial programs that support and protect the rights of people with disabilities.
Census data helps determine allocations for programs like Medicaid, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) as well as special education grants and Head Start programs. Projects that help build ramps for wheelchair accessibility as well as providing support with programs like the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program which helps people with disabilities with financial assistance for utilities and Section 811 Supportive Housing for Persons with Disabilities program also depend on the Census.
With a month left, make sure you participate in the 2020 Census! Then tell your family and friends why their participation in the Census matters and that they have to fill out the Census! This will be the first year it can be filled out online. Never forget that you count! Be counted!
You can find more information on the Census and how to fill it out here!