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Disabled less likely to own a home

The American Dream is Unlikely for the Nation’s Third Largest Minority Says Hofstra Professor

New Paper Reveals Enormous Barriers That Transcend The Physical Capabilities Of Americans With Disabilities

9/14/2006 8:48:00 AM 

HEMPSTEAD, N.Y., Sept. 14 /U.S. Newswire/ — Americans with disabilities make up the United States’ third largest minority, and yet they are the least likely of any demographic within the nation to achieve the American dream, according to Frank Bowe, Hofstra University’s Dr. Mervin Livingston Schloss distinguished professor for the Study of Disabilities.

A new study by Bowe finds that among adults with disabilities:

— More than a quarter live in poverty and more than 75 percent earn less than $20,000 annually

— Only a quarter have full-time employment

— Less than one fifth go to college

— Fewer than half have private health insurance

More than one in nine Americans — 32 million in all — have severe disabilities, according to the U.S. Bureau of the Census. Bowe’s study, titled “Disability in America” — available at http://people.hofstra.edu/faculty/Frank_G_Bowe — found that among Americans with disabilities, one in four subsists on below- poverty income and more than 75 percent have an individual income of less than $20,000. The 2002 mean income of Americans with severe disabilities was $18,363, compared with $32,870 among adults in that age range with no disabilities.

One major reason for the low employment and income numbers is that many adults with disabilities subsist on Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) for the health coverage they guarantee. Although the monthly funds received from those programs are barely livable wages, the benefit of Medicare and/or Medicaid is something this population cannot do without.

Only 13 percent of Americans with disabilities between the ages of 21 and 64 work year round, full time. Because it is so difficult for people with disabilities to find full-time, year- round careers — jobs which feasibly would provide them with health coverage they need — they acquiesce to this life of poverty in order to have some peace of mind with their health care. Only 45 percent of adults with severe disabilities have private health coverage; another 46 percent are on Medicare and/or Medicaid; and the remaining 19 percent have no health insurance.

Bowe also examines education for Americans with disabilities. Bowe says that despite measures to level the playing field, the reality is that educational opportunity for students with disabilities and those without is not parallel. Schools are only required to provide sufficient tools to help students with disabilities to keep up with their education. Many continue to struggle. While the typical 9-year-old would be in the 4th grade, a 9-year-old student with disabilities is more than half likely (61 percent) to be in the third grade and another third are only in second grade. Among high school students, most 15-year-old students with disabilities are not with their same age peers in the 10th grade. The vast majority are in 9th grade and more than a quarter are in the 8th grade.

Bowe does not dispute that educational opportunities are better today for students with disabilities than they were years ago, but there is still progress to be made. In 2004 students with disabilities comprised 6.8 percent of all full-time college freshmen. Those who complete their degree are more likely to get the full-time year round jobs with the private health insurance and escape the trappings that would likely keep them dependent on public entitlement programs.

Bowe has led a diverse career as disability activist and leader, government administrator, businessman and scholar. He is currently professor in the Counseling, Research, Special Education and Rehabilitation Department at Hofstra University. Before joining the faculty at Hofstra in 1989, Bowe served as a Regional Commissioner of the U.S. Department of Education’s Rehabilitation Services Administration. From 1984 to 1986 he was the Chairman of the U.S. Congress Commission on Education of the Deaf.

Bowe is perhaps best known for his leadership as executive director of the American Coalition of Citizens with Disabilities from 1976 to 1981. He was the organization’s first executive officer, and provided crucial direction during the nation-wide sit-in regarding Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act in 1977, the world’s first civil-rights provision for persons with disabilities, which eventually led to the American Disabilities Act, passed in 1990.

In 1980, Bowe was the first person with a disability to represent any nation in the planning of the United Nations International Year of Disabled Persons. For more than two decades Bowe has been a consultant to the U.S. Congress on a variety of issues. In 1992, he received the Distinguished Service Award from the President for his lifetime achievement. In 1994, he was inducted into the National Hall of Fame for People with Disabilities.

For more information visit: http://people.hofstra.edu/faculty/Frank_G_Bowe

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