Assessing the Need for a National Disability Survey: Final Report. IV. Addressing Data Limitations with a National Disability Survey


Another approach to addressing the disability data limitations described in Chapter II would be to design and conduct a national survey focused specifically on disability issues and populations. Pursuing such an option might be desirable if pursuit of other, less ambitious, options described in Chapter III are infeasible or do not adequately address the disability data limitations considered to be of significance to federal agencies. The marginal improvement options described in the previous chapter rely on the cobbling together of multiple data sources, which are based on contexts other than disability. A national disability survey can be designed to effectively reach many people with disabilities who may be missed in current surveys, include detailed information pertinent to understanding disability that may be absent from current surveys, and include all information in one source. The NHIS-D represents the only large-scale national disability survey ever undertaken in the United States general population. As noted previously, it is actually an extensive supplement to a major survey rather than a stand-alone survey, as it derived its sample through screening questions administered in the NHIS. This represents one model for conducting a periodic national disability survey, but other variants are also possible.

In what follows, we first describe potential design features of a national disability survey, focusing on aspects that address the existing disability data limitations. We conclude with a discussion of the advantages and disadvantages of conducting a national disability survey.

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