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Chartbook on Disability in the U.S.

Appendices: Glossary

This list provides explanation of terms used in the book that may require clarification. Each of these terms is referenced on the page(s) upon which it is used. The definitions are taken from the survey or footnoted publication as closely as possible in order to convey the original authors¼ perspectives.


Activity limitation: In the NHIS, each person is classified into one of four categories: (a) unable to perform the major activity, (b) able to perform the major activity but limited in the kind or amount of this activity, (c) not limited in the major activity but limited in the kind or amount of other activities, and (d) not limited in any way. The NHIS classifies people as limited (groups a-c) or not limited (group d). Persons are not classified as limited in activity unless one or more chronic health conditions are reported as the cause of the activity limitation (see also chronic health condition and major activity).


ADL: The NHIS probes for information on persons who need the help of others in performing activities of daily living (ADL). The ADLs are bathing, dressing, eating, and getting around the home (see also IADL).


Assistive technology devices: As used in the Assistive Devices Supplement to the 1990 NHIS, the operational definition of assistive technology includes devices that enhance the ability of an individual with a disability to engage in major life activities, actions, and tasks. These devices assist people with deficits in physical, medical, or emotional functioning.


Chronic health condition: A condition that a respondent described as having persisted for three or more months is considered to be chronic, as is any condition that is on a list of conditions always classified as chronic no matter how long the person has had the condition (NHIS).


Earnings: The sum of wages and/or salary and net income from farm and nonfarm self-employment.


ESEA (SOP): Chapter 1 of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act - State Operated Programs, one of two programs that have provided states with financial assistance to educate school-age children and youth with disabilities (see also IDEA).


Family income: The income recorded by the NHIS is the total of all income received by members of the family in the 12 month period preceding the week of the interview. Income from all sources is included. Sources can be wages, salaries, rents from property, pensions, government payments, and help from relatives.


Full-time employment: A full-time employed worker, according to the CPS, is one who worked primarily at full-time civilian jobs 50 weeks or more during the preceding calendar year.


Functional limitation: The SIPP asked respondents about their ability to perform the following specific sensory and physical activities: (1) seeing ordinary newspaper print (with glasses or contacts if normally used); (2) hearing normal conversation (using aid if normally used); (3) having speech understood; (4) lifting or carrying 10 lbs.; (5) walking a quarter of a mile without resting; (6) climbing a flight of stairs without resting; (7) getting around outside; (8) getting around inside; or (9) getting into and out of bed. Difficulty in performing any of these activities is classified as a functional limitation in the SIPP.


Home accessibility features: The Assistive Devices Supplement to the 1990 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) asked whether the respondent's home was equipped with any special features designed for disabled people including: ramps; extra-wide doors or passages; elevators or stairlifts (not counting public elevators); hand rails or grab bars (other than normal hand rails on stairs); raised toilets; levers, push bars, or special knobs on doors; lowered counters; slip-resistant floors; and other special features designed for disabled people. The presence of any of these features in the home is considered a "home accessibility feature."


IADL: The NHIS collected information on the respondent's need for assistance in performing instrumental activities of daily living (IADL). The IADls include: doing household chores, doing necessary business, shopping, and getting around for other purposes. People who need assistance in ADL were not asked about IADL (see also ADL).


IDEA: The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, Part B State Program is one of two major Federal programs that have provided states with financial assistance to educate school-age children and youth with disabilities (see also ESEA).


Incidence: The number or rate of conditions that onset in any one year.


Labor force: As used by the Bureau of the Census in the March Supplement of the Current Population Survey (CPS), the labor force includes people employed as civilians, unemployed, or in the Armed Forces during the survey week (see also Unemployment rate). People who are neither employed nor seeking employment are not included in the labor force (people engaged in housework, attending school, unable to work because of long-term physical or mental illness, persons who are retired or too old to work, seasonal workers in an off season, and voluntarily idle people).


Labor force participation rate: The number of people who are in the labor force divided by the number of people in the population (used in the CPS).


Major activity: In the NHIS, persons are classified in terms of the major activity usually associated with their particular age group. The major activities for the age groups are (a) ordinary play for children under 5 years of age, (b) attending school for those 5-17 years of age, (c) working or keeping house for persons 18-69 years of age, and (d) capacity for independent living (e.g., the ability to bathe, shop, eat, dress, and so forth, without needing the help of another person) for those 70 and over People aged 18-69 years who are classified as keepiong house are also classified by their ability to work at a job or business (see activity limitation).


Mean annual income: The CPS measures the mean annual income by dividing the total income of individuals by the total number of individuals. Income includes wages or salary, interest, dividends, Social Security retirement, Supplemental Security Income, public assistance or welfare, veterans payments, unemployment, worker¼s compensation, private or public pensions, alimony, child support, regular contributions from persons not living in the household, and other periodic income.


Medical expenditures: The NMES measures costs for medical care by totaling costs for hospital care, physician services, emergency room, dental services, vision aids, prescription drugs, medical equipment, and home care.


MSA: The Metropolitan Statistical Area has been defined by the U.S. Office of Management and Budget with help from the Federal Committee on Metropolitan Staistical Areas generally as a county or a group of counties containing at least one city having a population of 50,000 or more plus adjacent counties that are metropolitan in character and are economically and socially integrated with the central city.


Occupational illnesses and injuries: From the Recordkeeping Guidelines for Occupational Injuries and Illnesses, the definition used by the Annual Survey of Occupational Illnesses and Injuries (ASOII) for occupational injury is any injury such as a cut, fracture, sprain, etc., which results from a work accident or from exposure involving a single incident in the work environment. Occupational illness is any abnormal condition, acute or chronic illness, disease, or disorder (other than occupational injury) caused by exposure to environmental factors (inhalation, absorption, ingestion, or direct contact).


Poverty level: Poverty statistics presented in this report are based on a definition developed by the Social Security Administration in 1964 and revised by Federal Interagency Committees in 1969 and 1980. The poverty index provides a range of income cutoffs adjusted by such factors as family size and number of children under 18 years old.


Prevalence: The number or rate of conditions that exist in the population at any time.


Rehabilitated: The successful placement of a client of a state Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) agency into competitive, sheltered, or self-employment, or homemaking and unpaid family work for a minimum of 60 days after the completion of all necessary rehabilitation services (see Vocational Rehabilitation).


Severe functional limitation: The Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP) regards a person who is unable to perform or needs th help of another person to perform one or more of a list of physical functional activities as having a severe functional limitation (see Functional limitation for list of activities).


Severe work disability: The Current Population Survey (CPS) classifies persons as having a severe work disability if (1) they did not work in the survey week because of a long-term physical or mental illness that prevents the performance of any kind of work, (2) they did not work at all in the previous year because of illness or disability, (3) they are under 65 years of age and covered by Medicare, and (4) they are under 65 years of age and a recipient of Supplemental Security Income (SSI) (see also Work disability).


Special education: Free appropriate public education and related services provided for children and youth with disabilities from birth through age 21. Assisted through funding by federal legislation IDEA -part B and Chapter 1 of ESEA (SOP) (see IDEA and ESEA).


Unemployed: Unemployed people include those who, during the CPS survey week, had no employment but were available for work and (1) had engaged in a specific job seeking activity within the past 4 weeks, (2) were waiting to be called back to a job from which they had been laid off, or (3) were waiting to report to a new wage or salary job within 30 days (see Labor force participation rate). The number of unemployed persons divided by the number of people in the labor force is the unemployment rate.


Vocational Rehabilitation: This refers to programs conducted by state Vocational Rehabilitation agencies operating under the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 to provide or arrange for a wide array of training, educational, medical, and other services individualized to the needs of persons with disabilities. The services are intended to help these persons acquire, reacquire, or maintain gainful employment. Most of the funding is provided by the federal government.


Work disability: Persons were classified as having a work disability by the Current Population Survey (CPS) if they met any of the following criteria: (1) had a health problem or disability which prevents them from working or which limits the kind or amount of work they can do, (2) ever retired or left a job for health reasons, (3) did not work in survey week because of a long-term physical or mental illness or disability which prevents the performance of any kind of work, (4) did not work at all in 1986 because of illness or disability, (5) under 65 years of age and covered by Medicare, (6) under 65 years of age and a recipient of SSI (Supplemental Security Income), or (7) received veteran's disability compensation (see also Severe work disability).


Work limitation: In the NHIS, a person can be described as having a work limitation if he or she describes a chronic health condition that prevents performance of work at all, allows only certain types of work to be performed, or prevents him or her from working regularly.