The United States conducts a census every 10 years. It is important that everyone, including people with a vision impairment, participate. Census results help determine how billions of dollars in federal funding flow into states and communities annually. The results also determine how many seats in Congress each state receives. Community leaders and elected officials rely on accurate census data to make funding decisions about education, senior citizen and veteran support, along with other community allocations.
Therefore, it is important to have accurate numbers. Everyone must be counted. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says nearly one in four people in the United States has a disability with nearly 5 percent having a vision impairment. This means that having some kind of disability impacts all of us.
Census data plays a vital role in people’s everyday life, even though the census only comes around once a decade. Specifically, census data determines allocations for real-life necessities like health care, public transit, special education grants, Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and other benefits.
In addition, the census helps advocates, community leaders and politicians address inequalities in housing, health care, employment and education. Valid census data also helps ensure fair voting representation and enforcement of voting rights laws. Federal tax dollars cannot be distributed fairly and effectively without an accurate accounting of the population.
Historically, people with disabilities have been under-represented. This year, strong efforts are under way to make the census inclusive and accessible to everyone with a vision impairment. A downloadable and printable Census Bureau fact sheet on accessibility is available. You can complete your census form online, by phone, by mail or in person. Beginning mid-March, you will receive a mailed invitation to respond.
1. You can respond online in English or in 12 additional languages. The online questionnaire is accessible, following the latest web accessibility guidelines.
2. You can respond by phone in English or in 12 additional languages.
3. You can respond by mail. By mid-April, a paper questionnaire will be mailed to every household that hasn’t already responded (Some households will receive a paper questionnaire along with the first invitation in March.). Braille and large print guides will be available to assist with completing the paper questionnaire.
4. If necessary, you can respond in person beginning in mid-May. Census takers will visit all households that have not yet responded. They will be available to communicate in additional languages. When the census taker visits to help you respond, you can request that another census taker who communicates in your language return, if you prefer. You can also have another member of your household interact with the census taker.
Lastly, when completing your census form you can feel confident that your information will be private. Your answers are kept anonymous. They are used only to produce statistics. The U.S. Census Bureau is bound by law to protect your answers and keep them strictly confidential.
The law ensures that your private information is never published and that your answers cannot be used against you by any government agency or court. Additionally, no identifiable information about you, your home or business, even to law enforcement agencies, can be released.