DOVP Week: Jennifer Sullivan Sulewski on Data Sources for Tracking Outcomes of People with and without Disabilities

My name is Jennifer Sullivan Sulewski and I am a Research Associate at the Institute for Community Inclusion (ICI), University of Massachusetts Boston and past co-chair of AEA’s Disabilities and Other Vulnerable Populations (DOVP) TIG.

At ICI, we do a lot of work involving analysis of publicly available datasets to determine outcomes and trends for people with disabilities at the state and national levels. These data can be used to assess areas of need, establish baselines, and track progress over time for outcomes such as employment rates, economic status, and educational attainment. My post today highlights a couple of particularly useful data sources.

Hot Tip:

  • Pay attention to how disability is defined in your data source.  Each system or survey is likely to have a different set of disability categories and definitions. For example, the Census Bureau determines if respondents to the American Community Survey have a disability by asking if they have any of six specific conditions or functional impairments ( The Social Security Administration defines disability as a long-term impairment affecting the ability to work. Other systems (such as Vocational Rehabilitation and developmental disabilities services) have their own ways of assessing disability status and eligibility for services.

Rad Resource:

  • U.S. Census Bureau. The Census Bureau website includes a wealth of searchable data and customization reports on both the decennial census (last conducted in 2010) and more frequent data collection efforts such as the American Community Survey.
  • This website compiles data on employment outcomes and other population statistics for people with disabilities nationally and state by state, using data from state intellectual/developmental disabilities agencies, the Rehabilitation Services Administration, the U.S. Department of Labor, the Social Security Administration, and the Census Bureau. In the interest of full disclosure: is developed and maintained by my team at the ICI.


The American Evaluation Association is celebrating the Disabilities and Other Vulnerable Populations TIG (DOVP) Week. The contributions all week come from DOVP members. Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluator.

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