A Poll I’d Like To See

Illustration of poll question boxes with a red check mark

I think it’s time for a new opinion poll of the disability community.

One of the frustrating things about disability writing, social media, and activism, is never being sure how much of the “disability community” is actually interested, or would even agree with what we’re saying and doing.

As disability activists, we take a lot of stands and priorities based on our own convictions, but backed up by rather vague ideas and instincts we have about what the disability community looks like and how most disabled people actually think. We may have sound ideas about what is important in disability policy and social progress. But we know surprisingly little about how many of our fellow disabled people actually share our views.

The Gallup organization did an opinion poll of disabled people many years ago, but I haven’t seen anything quite as thorough since. And as I recall, that poll didn’t ask much about how disabled people think about their disabilities, or really explore the differences in perspective that may be tied to different kinds of disabilities, different lengths of time having disabilities, and exposure to “disability culture.” So here are some poll questions I would like to see asked of the broad disability community, by professional pollsters who know how to gather accurate data on public opinion.

What questions would you ask if you could design a comprehensive disability opinion poll?

What kind of disability do you have?

1. Cognitive
2. Physical
3. Mental / Psychiatric
4. Sensory (Visual / Hearing)
5. Autism
6. Chronic Illness / Chronic Pain

How did you become disabled?

1. Born with obvious, identifiable, and more or less lifelong disabilities.
2. From illness or accident.
3. Always had a disability, but just recently identified or explained.

How do you locate your disability?

1. It is very specific to one two aspects of my body, mind, or functions.
2. It involves most of my body, mind, or everyday functions.

How do you experience your disability the most? (Rank from least to most relevant to you)

1. As a medical condition requiring treatment.
2. As a social condition requiring legal protections and work against prejudice.
3. As a practical problem requiring accessibility and accommodations.
4. As an economic problem requiring financial opportunity and security.

How old are you?

Which state do you live in?

What kind of community do you live in?

1. Urban
2. Suburban
3. Rural

What is your annual income?

What best describes your employment status?

1. Not employed for pay
2. Work, but not for pay
3. Work, but for less than minimum wage
4. In a sheltered workshop or regulated work program
5. No outside work, just personal self-care and day to day chores
6. Part time work for pay
7. Full time work for pay
8. Occasional or seasonal work for pay
9. Freelance for for pay

Is it a current desire / priority for you to work for pay more than you do?

Do you rely on government benefits for any of your monthly income?

How do you pay for health care?

1. Private health insurance
2. Medicare
3. Medicaid
4. Mainly out of pocket, through fundraising, or using free care when available

What is your living situation?

1. In my own home / apartment, without help.
2. In my own home / apartment, with regular help.
3. In my parents’ home.
4. In a nursing home, group home, or other regulated facility.
5. With roommate(s)
6. Don’t have a regular home / shelter.

Are you married / living with a romantic partner?

How do you get around your community?

1. Drive
2. Walk / wheel as a pedestrian
3. Taxis or public transportation
4. Specialized disability transport
5. No regular means of getting around

How long have you had your disability?

Do you participate in disability conversations and reading online?

Do you have friends who have disabilities?

Do you participate in any kind of disability issue advocacy, in person or online?

And of course it’s always useful and important to ask some demographic questions …

How do you identify yourself in terms of race and / or ethnicity?

How do you identify yourself in terms of gender?

How do you identify yourself in terms of sexuality?

How do you identify yourself in terms of religion?

How do you identify yourself in terms of politics or ideology?

How do you identify yourself in terms of social and / or economic class or status?