The January 7, 1998 edition of PULSE, The Medical Student Section of JAMA was dedicated to a series of articles on “The Americans with Disabilities Act and Afterwards: Disabilities in Medical Education and Practice”. One of the most interesting items in the entire section was the statistic that 8.8% of all college freshman report having a disability compared to only 0.2% of medical school graduates (1, p. 79). Covering topics from mental health to deafness, many of the articles are written from the first-person point of view of the disabled medical student, and while over ten years old is still an important read for any academic health sciences librarian.
(1) Reichgott MJ. The disabled student as undifferentiated graduate: a medical school challenge. JAMA 1998 Jan 7;279(1):79. doi:10.1001/jama.279.1.79
National and regional statistics for your coverage area are imperative when developing an inclusive service plan for those with special needs in your library. Disability statistics from the 2006 American Community Survey are available online from the U.S. Census Bureau at http://www.census.gov/hhes/www/disability/2006acs.html. Customizable tables can be created from the data with regards to:
- school enrollment
- educational attainment
- employment status
- poverty status
- median earnings
Disabilities are grouped into the following categories:
Additional disability data includes: disability subject table, select economic characteristics for the civilian noninstitutionalized population by disability status, and ranking tables by age group: 5-20 years, 21-64, and 65+.
Though this report is now ten years old, it is interesting to revisit as this year marks the first that the Baby Boomer generation turned 65. It was estimated that by 2015, 19.6% of the labor force will be over the age of 55 (Figure 1). These numbers are comparable to job statistics in the health sciences, 19.3 % of doctors and 12% of nurses were over the age of 55 in 2,000 (Table 8). These figures are important when considering the clientele of the biomedical library and the special needs that might arise with regards to potential vision, hearing, and mobility impairments as workers retire at a later age.
You can download a PDF of the report at: U.S. GAO – Older Workers: Demographic Trends Pose Challenges for Employers and Workers.