R-3: Relation of Sociodemographics and Local Characteristics to Community Participation and Community Living

Who you are, where you live and what your environment is like - these factors interact in a complex way to influence how people with disabilities participate in their communities. This project uses the American Community Survey (ACS) to better understand how these individual, residential and environmental factors affect community participation and community living. Results from this study will inform policymakers so they may make changes in programs and services to support more widespread participation by persons with disabilities. 

Individual, household and local environmental characteristics are likely to influence the community participation and community living of people with disabilities. Focusing on working age adults with and without disabilities, this project investigated the association of community participation and community living with:

(1) sociodemographic factors, including but not limited to race, ethnicity, income, education, household composition),

(2) traits of the housing physical structure, including but not limited to age of the structure, number of stories, structure type (e.g., single family home, mobile home, apartment building),

(3) local characteristics, including but not limited to urban/rural and availability of public transportation, state and local policies and programs (e.g., proximity to an independent living center, access to community services), topography, climate, and

(4) the nature of an individual’s disability (i.e., disability type and severity).

The project used data from the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey (ACS), which asks respondents whether they have physical, mental or emotional conditions that cause them to have “difficulty doing errands alone, such as visiting a doctor’s office or shopping.”  The Census Bureau calls this an “independent living difficulty.” 

Our results suggest that independent living difficulty:

  • Is greatest among individuals with cognitive difficulty, followed by individuals with ambulatory difficulty, then individuals with vision difficulty, and lastly individuals with hearing difficulty;
  • Increases with age among the population with cognitive difficulty, but decreases with age among the population with ambulatory difficulty;
  • Decreases with increased education for all difficulty types;
  • Is highest for people living in structures built in the 1950s and 60s, except for people with cognitive difficulties, which was highest in structures built in the 1990s;
  • Is highest among people living in distressed areas, especially for people with ambulatory difficulty. Principal Investigator: Andrew Houtenville, PhD

guy with a stickThis is one of six projects that uses existing data (Core A) to analyze how barriers to and experiences of community living may differ across socio-demographic and geographic groups.

Photo courtesy of Colorado Home Initiative & Florida Office on Disability and Health

Project Background
Purpose of the Study, Anticipated Benefits, Methods and Hypotheses

More Information about the Design of the Research
Sample, Data Collection and Measurement, Data Analysis

Project Investigators: Andrew Houtenville, PhD and Vidya Sundar, PhD