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Wednesday, February 7, 2024

Census Halts Question Change

The U.S. Census Bureau is no longer moving forward with a controversial proposal that could have shrunk a key estimated rate of disability in the United States by about 40%, the bureau's director said Tuesday in a blog post.

The announcement comes just over two weeks after the bureau said the majority of the more than 12,000 public comments it received about proposed changes to its annual American Community Survey cited concerns over changing the survey's disability questions.

The American Community Survey currently asks participants yes-or-no questions about whether they have "serious difficulty" with hearing, seeing, concentrating, walking and other functional abilities.

To align with international standards and produce more detailed data about people's disabilities, the bureau had proposed a new set of questions that would have asked people to rate their level of difficulty with certain activities.

Based on those responses, the bureau was proposing that its main estimates of disability would count only the people who report "A lot of difficulty" or "Cannot do at all," leaving out those who respond with "Some difficulty." That change, the bureau's testing found, could have lowered the estimated share of the U.S. population with any disability by around 40% — from 13.9% of the country to 8.1%.