Honoring humanity creates an equitable and just society.
Washington, with beautiful landscapes from the beaches of Neah Bay to the rolling fields of Asotin and every place in between, is home to a beautiful tapestry of people seeking to make a life for themselves and a better future for their children, grandchildren, and generations to come. Yet, persons with disabilities still do not have the same opportunities to thrive as their nonmarginalized counterparts across nearly every measure including education, wealth, employment, health, and more. Inequities continue to be deep, pervasive, and persistent, and they come at a great economic and social cost.
The Washington State Office of Equity partners with numerous internal and external stakeholders to receive anti-racist, decolonized, disaggregated data in order to produce relevant information that result in persons with disabilities having full access to the opportunities, power, and resources they need to flourish and achieve their full potential.
Equity Concerns for Persons with Disabilities:
1,296,016 adults in Washington state have a disability. This is equal to 22% or one in five adults in Washington.1 Disability types include:
- 10% Mobility: Serious difficulty walking or climbing stairs.
- 10% Cognitions: Serious difficult concentrating, remembering or making decisions.
- 6% Dependent living: Serious difficulty doing errands alone, such as visiting a doctor’s office.
- 5% Hear: Deafness or serious difficulty hear.
- 3% Vision: Blind or serious difficulty seeing, even when wearing glass.
- 3% Self-care: Difficulty dressing or bathing.
Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities
Approximately 1.58% of the general population is estimated to have an Intellectual and/or Developmental Disability. In Washington state, this means that about 120,000 children and adults may have this diagnosis.2 RCW 71A.10.020 defines individuals with developmental disability means a disability attributable to intellectual disability, cerebral palsy, epilepsy, autism or another neurological or other condition.
Health Disparities for Adults with Disabilities
Adults with disabilities in Washington state experience health disparities and have a:
- 38% chance of having obesity complications.
- 23% chance of smoking-related ailments.
- 14% chance of having complications due to diabetes.
Rates of Poverty for Individuals with Disabilities
Factors that contribute to disproportionate poverty in the disability community include lower labor force participation, differences in workers’ occupations and differences in educational attainment levels compared to people without disabilities. Workers with disabilities are more likely to be employed part-time and in service occupations compared to workers without disabilities. Individuals with disabilities are less likely to have completed high school or obtained a bachelor’s or higher degree compared to those without disabilities. In addition to disability-related barriers, the most common barriers to seeking employment include lack of education and training, lack of transportation, and the need for job accommodations. Although people with and without disabilities work in the same types of industries, occupations and job classes differ significantly. Individuals with disabilities are less frequently employed in management and professional jobs and more frequently in service positions. Employees with disabilities are also more likely to work for nonprofit and government agencies or to be self-employed.3
We've got to stop just pulling people out of the river. We need to go upstream and find out why they're falling in. Desmond Tutu
Communities designed with just one kind of person in mind isolate those of us defying our narrow definition of personhood. Haben Girma