Bureau of Labor Statistics Now Offers Vision Loss Data
For the first time ever, the U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) is tracking employment rates among people with disabilities. Beginning in January 2009, six questions regarding disabilities were added to the Current Population Survey (CPS)—a monthly survey created by the federal government to better estimate unemployment rates in the United States.
This can be a great resource for the disability community, as we will now have monthly reports on employment statistics pertaining exclusively to people with disabilities, something we haven't had before. The BLS web site only reports the employment status for people identified with a disability of any kind; therefore, upon special request, anyone who is interested can receive the monthly employment data from the BLS broken down by specific type of disability. AFB has requested the disability—specific employment information from this monthly survey as it pertains to vision loss and posted this information in the Statistical Snapshots section of AFB's web site.
While we are excited for this new information, AFB is asking that people examine the unemployment rates among people with disabilities with caution since the 13.2% reported by the January 2009 BLS data is dangerously misleading. A closer examination of the data reveals the following facts, which more accurately depict employment rates among people with disabilities.
- 77% of survey participants with a disability were identified as "not in the labor force." (People identified as "not in the labor force" were not actively looking for work during the reported month, and thus not included in the reported unemployment rate, even though they were not employed as well.)
- 13.2% of survey participants with disabilities in the U.S. are unemployed. This number does not include the 77% of participants identified as "not in the labor force."
- 75% of survey participants with vision loss* were identified as "not in the labor force."
- 8.6% of survey participants with vision loss in the U.S. are unemployed. This number does not include the 75% of participants identified as "not in the labor force."
*The BLS defines people with vision loss as anyone 16 years of age and over in the civilian noninstitutional population who answered "yes" to the question: "Is anyone blind or does anyone have serious difficulty seeing even when wearing glasses?"
The 77% of people with disabilities not included in the labor force and the 75% of people with vision loss not included in the labor force are both strikingly similar to the 70% number that most disability organizations have been reporting for years. AFB hopes that these findings continue to underscore the need for additional services and resources for people with disabilities—job training programs, accessible technology, etc. Given the tough economic climate and current unemployment rates in our country overall, it is more important now than ever that we address the needs of people with disabilities and give them the tools they need to live active and independent lives.
To access the area of the Bureau of Labor Statistics web site that is reporting the new monthly data series on the employment status of people with a disability, go to www.bls.gov/cps/cpsdisability.htm. To view AFB's full report about the Bureau of Labor Statistics Current Population Survey, as well as the disability-specific vision loss employment data, visit AFB's Statistical Snapshots section.
News and Announcements
Tax time is stressful for everyone. It involves organizing receipts and tax documents, filling out confusing forms, working with accountants, and meeting that fast approaching April 15 deadline. For people with age-related vision problems, there is often added anxiety around tax time since most receipts and paperwork come in small print that is difficult, if not impossible, for people with eye conditions such as glaucoma and macular degeneration to read.
To help seniors experiencing vision loss get organized and find helpful resources and tips, AFB has created a Tax Guide dedicated to getting yourself organized for this annual event and making the filing process easier. To view the Tax Guide, visit www.afb.org/seniorsite/taxguide.
AFB CareerConnect® Webcast Presentations!
Tuesday, April 28, and Wednesday, April 29, at 2:00 pm EST, AFB CareerConnect will present two free online seminars for professionals working with children and adults with visual impairments.
Tuesday's session, Lifelong Learning in Career Education, features a discussion with Dr. Karen Wolffe, Director, Professional Development and CareerConnect, on the career education model, how to help move children and adults through the appropriate stages of the model, and the activities and resources available to instruct children and adults with visual impairments in career education. Wednesday's session, Determining Current and Future AT Needs, features Ike Presley, Project Manager, Professional Development, as he presents an overview of strategies for determining the AT tools needed for success in life and work. He will be joined by CareerConnect intern Tara Annis, who will discuss the AT demands of her transition from school to work, and staff member Detra Bannister, who will facilitate a discussion on AT support at work with two CareerConnect mentors.
Both seminars will broadcast live to your computer. For more information about the webcasts, contact CareerConnect staff at 888-824-2184 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Web-based Audio Resources for Families
Two new Expanded Core Curriculum (ECC) audio interviews with professionals have been added to the ECC Audio Library section of Family Connect. These messages, from June Downing and Jim Durkel, are for parents and families and highlight the ECC Sensory Efficiency area. Dr. Downing discusses sensory efficiency and tactile communication skills for deafblind children and Mr. Durkel discusses effective listening skills. Their messages include the presenters' thoughts on what they think parents need to know and how parents can support their children's acquisition of these important disability-specific skills.
Check out AFB's blog and read about the latest happenings at AFB and other events in the news, including Mary Tyler Moore's life with diabetes, the release of Amazon's new Kindle 2, and more!