Transition Counts: Identifying Transition-Age Youth with Disabilities Using Public Surveys
- We provide a conceptual framework for interpreting disability prevalence and identifying commonalities in disability definitions across eight publicly available and commonly used surveys.
- Disability prevalence estimates for youth with disabilities are sensitive to the disability measures available in each survey, particularly whether youth-based measures are included.
- The number of questions available to measure disability in each survey has direct implications for prevalence.
This paper provides a framework to categorize disability definitions for the purpose of interpreting disability prevalence estimates of transition-age youth (ages 16 to 24) with disabilities. We apply this framework to compare disability prevalence estimates within four disability definitions (impairment, activity limitation, participation limitation, and special needs/program indicators) across eight surveys. Prevalence estimates for transition-age youth vary based upon the number of disability questions asked, the inclusion of disability questions that capture disability severity status (low, moderate, or severe), the proportion of youth- versus adult-specific disability questions asked (such as special education versus work limitation), and the area of focus of the survey (health versus employment). The findings have important implications in examining disability statistics for young adults.
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