#Fun4the Disabled’s Vanessa Harris talks with Karen Tamley from Access Living about the importance of ensuring disabled people are counted in the 2020 census, and the funding they risk losing if they are not.

[Visual Descriptions: Video opens with fun4thedisabled logo, and Vanessa Harris’s voice is heard off screen introducing the video topic. Karen Tamley appears on video in an office setting, and her interview is interspersed with supplemental graphics reinforcing her message.]

Vanessa: Hi. This is Vanessa Harris with fun4thedisabled.com. I talked to Karen Tamley, the new CEO of Chicago’s Access Living, and former commissioner of the Chicago Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities, about the upcoming 2020 census. Here’s what you should know.

[Vanessa and Karen are now together.]

Vanessa: Okay, so Karen, let’s talk about census 2020. Let’s talk about the Disability Complete Count Committee.

Karen: Yes. So, the Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities, together with Access Living, is co-chairing a Disability Complete Count Committee. The disability community is considered one of the “hard to count” communities, and we all know that in 2020, there will be the, um, the census will be taken.

The census is a count of everyone living in the United States, it’s constitutionally required every 10 years. But the census has tremendous impact on the issues and the services that people with disabilities rely on. So the federal funds that Illinois receives is dependent on the count from the census.

So if we have an undercount, like we did in 2010, we are at risk of losing critical federal funds that people with disabilities rely on. Medicaid, highway funding that creates curb ramps, accessibility, food subsidies, early childhood education, special education, employment services, all of these things are dependent on the census count. And so, it is very, very important that people with disabilities complete the census.

There’s one of, uh, three ways that the census will, um, be able to be completed, one is that you will get the census in the mail. Number two, you can also complete it online, and if you do neither of those after April 1st, a census taker will be coming to your residence to ask you to complete the census in person.

So there’s a large effort going on in many cities across the country, in Chicago, in the state of Illinois, to really ensure that we get the greatest number of people counted in completing the 2020 census. I will also add that in total, Illinois risks losing $675 billion in federal funds.

Vanessa: Really?!

Karen: …are at stake. That’s the money that is at stake, it’s coming from Illinois. And that is why it’s critical that you be counted. We are also at risk of losing two congressional seats.

Vanessa: Oh my goodness.

Karen: So if people don’t complete the census, and we’re undercounted, we’re gonna lose representation in Congress. And so there’s a lot of implications, um it’s also been estimated that we lose at least $1,800 per year for each person undercounted in 2020.

Vanessa: Really?

Karen: Yes. Um, so, you know, I mean the number of services that um, receive federal funds that are determined by the census count is very very large.

Vanessa: Wow. I wasn’t aware that it was that much of an impact.

Karen: And that’s why we need to get the word out, that’s why we need to educate our community about what’s at stake. And this is really an opportunity for the disability community to have their voice heard. This is, this is a form of democracy, right?

Just like getting out the vote, we’re trying to get out the count, right? And get people counted. So we need your help to get the word out, get the message out. There will soon be information that will be going out widely to the disability community, a flyer, with information that I just discussed as well as some hashtags.

And the census.gov website where you can go for more information, um, all of these um…pieces of information will be on this flyer. But there’s many organizations and many other “hard to count” communities, that are also doing work to get the word out about the importance of the census.

Vanessa: Okay, alright. Okay.

As you can hear from Karen Tamley, the impacts of undercounting the disability community were disastrous in 2010, and have the potential for causing more problems if we don’t get counted in 2020. Make sure you’re counted. This is one issue where we HAVE to be visible. #YesWeCount! This is Vanessa Harris with fun4thedisabled.com. Signing off until next time. Bye-bye.

[Video ends with fun4thedisabled logo. Transcribed and captioned by aslcaptions.com.]

Share This