Community Partner Update: August 2006

Appropriations Update (July 20):

The Senate Appropriations Committee passed a bill which includes funding for Vocational Rehabilitation and related programs. The committee increased the President's FFY '07 budget request by more than $5 billion for the Departments of Labor, Education, Health and Human Services, as well as the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and the Social Security Administration. The funding level passed by the committee was also $1.3 billion over the previous fiscal year's level ($141.5 billion). The good news is that this bill includes a 4.3% cost of living increase for VR, which will be a boost for the state-federal program in Illinois should it be passed by both chambers and be signed by the President (depending on how the formula distributes this increase).

Workforce Investment Update:

In July, the Senate also passed the Workforce Investment Act, S. 2109. This bill also has to be reconciled with the House version, which passed earlier in this Congress. Advocates across the nation are working with potential House-Senate Conferees in the event that a bill gets to conference committee prior to Congress Adjourning for the November Elections.

Springfield ADA Celebration:

The Statewide Independent Living Council of Illinois, the Illinois Network of Centers for Independent Living, the Coalition of Citizens with Disabilities in Illinois, the Illinois Assistive Technology Project, the Division of Rehabilitation Services, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (DNR), Illinois Council on Developmental Disabilities, Memorial Health Care, Meyers Commercial Real Estate, Sparc, Springfield Center for Independent Living, Vono's, and Q'doba Mexican Grill sponsored a celebration of the 16th anniversary of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) on July 26 in Springfield. The event included live music, free food from Q'doba, and a number of politicians racing in front of the Old State Capitol in wheelchairs provided by Memorial Home Care.

Somewhat tenuous weather turned into a beautiful afternoon for the celebration. State Representatives Raymond Poe, Rich Brauer, and Senator Larry Bomke participated in the wheelchair races; as did Mayor Tim Davlin and candidate in the 99th Representative District, Sam Cahnman. A crowd of more than 200 individuals participated in the celebration. The ADA, which prohibits discrimination in employment, transportation, public accommodations, state and local government services, and telecommunications was signed by President George H.W. Bush on 7/26/90. Congratulations to everyone who worked hard to put this great event together!!

Updated Census Data:

On July 26, 1990 President George H. W. Bush signed into law the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), guaranteeing equal opportunity for people

with disabilities in public accommodations, commercial facilities, employment, transportation, state and local government services and telecommunications. Each year the U.S. Census Bureau comes out with data on the anniversary of the signing of the ADA.

Population Distribution:

  • 51.2 million - Number of people who have some level of disability. They represent 18
  • percent of the population.
  • 32.5 million- Number of people with a severe disability. They represent 12 percent of the population.
  • 11 percent of children ages 6 to 14 have a disability - 4 million.
  • 72 percent of people 80 and older have disabilities, the highest of any age group.
  • Percentage of females with a disability (20%) is higher than the 17 percent of males. On the other hand, among children under 15, boys were more likely than girls to have a disability (11 percent versus 6 percent).

Using or Needing Assistance

  • 10.7 million- Number of people age 6 and older who need personal assistance with one or more activities of daily living (such as taking a bath or shower) or instrumental activities of daily living (such as using the telephone). This group amounts to 4 percent of people in this age category.
  • 2.7 million- Number of people age 15 and older who use a wheelchair. Another 9.1 million use an ambulatory aid such as a cane, crutches or walker.

Specific Disabilities

  • Number of people age 15 and older who report being unable to see - 1.8 million
  • Number of people age 15 and older who report being unable to hear - 1 million
  • Number of people age 15 and older who have some difficulty having their speech understood by others - 2.6 million. Of this number, 610,000 were unable to have their speech understood at all.
  • Number of people with limitations in cognitive functioning or a mental or emotional illness that interferes with their daily activities (includes those with Alzheimer's disease, depression and mental retardation) - 14.3 million. This group comprises 6 percent of the population.

On the Job

  • Number of 16 to 64 year-olds who reported the presence of a medical condition that makes it difficult to find a job or remain employed - 11.8 million. They comprise 6 percent of the population.
  • 56% - Percentage of people ages 21 to 64 having some type of disability and also employed in the last year. The rate ranged from 82 percent of those with a non-severe disability to 43 percent with a severe disability. For those without a disability, the rate is 88 percent.
  • Percentage of people with a non-severe disability who work full time, year-round - 44 percent. This compares to 53 percent without a disability and 13 percent with a severe disability.

Perceived Health Status

  • 33% - Percentage of people ages 25 to 64 who have a non-severe disability and report their health as being "very good" or "excellent." This compares with 13 percent of those with a severe disability and 73 percent of those without a disability.

Income and Poverty

  • $22,000- Median earnings for people with a non-severe disability. This compares to $25,000 for those with no disability and $12,800 for those with a severe disability.
  • 18%- Percentage of people with a non-severe disability and household incomes of
  • $80,000 or more. By comparison, 26 percent of people without a disability had household incomes of $80,000 or more, with the same being true of 9 percent of those with a severe one.
  • 11% - The poverty rate for people ages 25 to 64 with a non-severe disability. This compares to 26 percent for those with a severe disability and 8 percent of those without a disability.

Living Arrangements

  • 60% - Percentage of people ages 25 to 64 with a non-severe disability who live in married-couple families. The corresponding rates are 68 percent for those without disabilities and 50 percent for people with severe disabilities.
  • 23% - Percentage of people with a non-severe disability who live alone or with non-relatives. This compares with 28 percent of those with a severe disability and 19 percent without a disability.


  • 33% - The percentage of people ages 25 to 64 who had a non-severe disability and were college graduates. This compares with 43 percent with no disability and 22 percent with a severe disability.

Plugged In

  • Percentages of people ages 15 to 64 with a severe disability who use a computer (36%) and the Internet (29%) at home, respectively. The respective figures for those without a disability are 61 percent and 51 percent.

Serving Our Nation

  • Number of veterans who received compensation for service- related disabilities as of 2004 - 2.6 million. Of these vets, 506,000 served in World War II; 237,000 in Korea; 1 million in Vietnam; and 540,000 in the Persian Gulf (the data cover service from Aug. 2, 1990, to Sept. 30, 2004).


Joint Task Force on Deaf and Hard of Hearing Education Options:

Kristine Smith, DRS Manager of Vocational Rehabilitation Support, recently participated in a meeting with the Illinois Deaf and Hard of Hearing Commission (IDHHC), the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE), Representative Jim Meyer (48th District) and Representative Elaine Nekritz (57th District) to discuss HR 43 (Joint Task Force on Deaf and Hard of Hearing Education Options). The purpose of the task force is to perform a comprehensive review of education and services available to deaf and hard of hearing children and their families so they receive complete and non-biased information about education and service options. The task force met last year and completed a report on communication options. Funding for this task force was received through ISBE and IDHHC. There is a significant amount of work to be completed this year and it is expected the group will increase in size and additional resources are needed. ISBE and DHS will assist with this project.

Customer Letter:

Don't let anyone tell you that one person can not make a difference! As a result of this woman's timely advocacy, funding of the Evaluation and Developmental Center (EDC) at the Rehabilitation Institute of Southern Illinois University-Carbondale was restored. What follows is the thank you letter to Director Kilbury.

"Dear Dr. Kilbury, I don't suppose you will remember our phone conversation earlier this summer, but I called you about the closing of the EDC residential program down in Carbondale. I have a daughter who was slated to attend there this summer. Well, we just got the official phone call that they are indeed reopening their doors this fall, and I just had to write and thank you for helping to facilitate this. You have no idea the impact this program will have on the students who have been waiting to get in there so they can be trained to be responsible, tax-paying citizens. You made the right decision. Many other states look to Illinois and open their own schools for borderline students like my daughter who, with some help, can actually get off of SSI, become self-supporting, and live a full, satisfying life. Thank you from the bottom of my heart, and from the hearts of all of the future parents of students who will attend EDC. Again, you did the right thing! Sincerely grateful, NN."

Disability Mentoring Week:

DRS is gearing up for Disability Mentoring Week which will be held during the week of October 16-20, 2006. We invite all of our community partners to join with us in identifying individuals with disabilities and employers who can be part of this very important effort to encourage the employment of our Customers through personal mentoring experiences. For more information about Disability Mentoring Week or to recommend possible participants, please feel free to contact Tom Minta, Manager of the DRS Employment Unit, at 312/814-4036 (V/TTY). We will update you on our progress next month.