NDRN’s Fall Public Comment to the National Advisory Committee on Racial, Ethnic and Other Populations

NDRN’s Fall Public Comment to the National Advisory Committee on Racial, Ethnic and Other Populations

The US Census Bureau’s National Advisory Committee on Racial, Ethnic and Other Populations (NAC) held their fall public meeting between November 7-8, 2019. Following the meeting, NAC submitted its 2019 fall meeting recommendations to the Census Bureau.

On November 8, 2019, NDRN submitted a letter of public comment to the committee asking that they discuss the needs of people with disabilities and recommend the following to the Census Bureau:

  1. As of October, 2019 it is our understanding that the 2020 Census online questionnaire has not yet been tested by people with disabilities to ensure that it is accessible for next year’s roll out. The Census Bureau has said that “the online questionnaire is accessible, following the latest web accessibility guidelines.” 4 However, in order to ensure that the online questionnaire is fully accessible we recommend that the Census Bureau and its developers work directly with people who use adaptive technologies such as screen readers prior to Census Day 2020.
  2. The Census Bureau has stated that the 2020 Census will be accessible, however, it is important to acknowledge that some individuals including some people with disabilities might still need/want help self-responding to the 2020 Census. Therefore, we recommend that the Census Bureau release official guidance related to if an individual can ask someone to help them complete the 2020 Census if needed by someone other than a census taker such as trusted friend, family member, personal care aide, or trained caregiver.
  3. The Census Bureau has stated that they will utilize Telecommunication Device for the Deaf (TDD, also known as TTY) technology for their phone questionnaire next year. NDRN appreciates that the Census Bureau has tried to make their phone questionnaire as accessible as possible for individuals who are deaf or hard-of-hearing who might want to respond by phone and acknowledge that TDD technology is what will be used for next year’s census. However, for future censuses and other Census Bureau surveys, we recommend that the Census Bureau consider using more modern technological devices such as videophones and video relay services as many people in the deaf and hard-of-hearing community do not use TTD/TTY anymore.5
  4. NDRN appreciates and agrees with the Census Bureau’s decision to list people with disabilities as HTC for Census 2020. However, the Census Bureau classifies the disability population in their HTC list as “persons with mental or physical disabilities”. This type of classification of the disability community is not fully inclusive as it does not include people with developmental, intellectual and sensory disabilities, and instead we recommend that the Census Bureau change this language to “people with disabilities” moving forward.

The Census Bureau posted our letter of Public Comment on the NAC Meeting site.