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Why the U.S. Census Matters (now, more than ever) for People with Disabilities

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Amid current global disruptions, Americans must remember to complete a census form—people with disabilities are counting on it.

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There is no shortage of distraction or disruption in most of our lives right now. From the ever-changing dynamics of the 2020 election cycle, to the evolving measures being put in place to combat the spread of COVID-19, our attention is being pulled in a ton of different directions. The antidote to much of this chaos is for us to focus on taking a “we before me” approach to our actions. If you’re feeling a bit lost right now amid the chaos, that is understandable, but one way you can regain a sense of normalcy is by completing the 2020 census form. Your friends and family with disabilities are counting on you, in fact.

As many folks know, the US Census is a decennial (every ten years) count of all residents of the United States. It goes beyond a simple count though, and this is the important part; the census helps compile the various needs of the population, which determines how billions in federal funding is distributed in the years that follow. The impact of the census for people with disabilities is critical – it helps identify them and their needs, for starters. Census data is then used by the government to allocate budgetary ($800B per year) funding for programs that deliver services to those who need a little extra help. In the case of people with disabilities, this means funding for such initiatives as advocacy programs, health care, housing, employment and other means to help ensure that we all get our slice of the American Dream.

When Does the 2020 US Census Start?

While the 2020 US Census is technically being conducted for most of the year in some capacity, the deadline for this year’s self-response phase has been pushed to August 14th, 2020. Prior to all the disruption of dealing with COVID-19, Census Day, or the original deadline, was March 31st.

US Census Accommodations for Citizens with Disabilities

Last year, the United States Census Bureau announced measures to ensure the census is accessible to everyone. Citizens with disabilities have the option to respond in several ways: online, via phone, or paper questionnaire. They can also request large print or braille questionnaires and census takers who can communicate in American Sign Language when required. For more information, visit 2020census.gov, which is 508 compliant and accessible to people of all abilities.

How Can I Participate in the 2020 Census?

We’re glad you asked. Participating in the 2020 census is required by law – boycotting the census, even skipping a few questions can have criminal consequences, including fines up to $5000. A quick glance through most of our social media feeds would suggest that many folks are looking for something to fill the time as they “shelter in place.” If you’re ready to get going on your 2020 Census form, you can start now.

The blogosphere is filled with gallons of digital ink spilled sharing studies about the positive effects that helping others can have on the person doing the helping. In this case, a straightforward act of patriotism that you can do from home is a marvellous way for you to help many, many others, including people with disabilities. We hope you’ll do your part.

The 2020 US Census highlights just how much Inclusion matters. Ensure your organization allows everyone to participate — request a demo to see how we can help you create inclusive web, mobile, and product experiences for all through digital accessibility testing, evaluation and remediation.

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