Disabilities Data

UO Students

In 2023, the Digital Accessibility Architect and representatives from the Accessible Education Center and Teaching Engagement Program put together a new list of disabilities-related questions for the Division of Student Life's Student Wellbeing and Success Initiative (SWaSI) survey. SWaSI is sent to all incoming UO undergraduates prior to their matriculation, and the new questions were introduced in the survey sent to the incoming 2023-2024 class.

You can find detailed data and methodology related to these questions in the SWaSI disability descriptives report. Additional information is also available in the SWaSI demographics and wellbeing relationships report.

Top-line results

  • 46.5% of incoming UO undergraduates reported having a disability or being neurodivergent
  • 2.1% of incoming UO undergraduates reported experiencing barriers or having difficulty using computers and mobile devices due to the disabilities, impairments, or neurodivergence they reported

It should be noted that many people with disabilities or who are neurodivergent may not be aware of or may not report barriers they experience with technology. In many cases, they may not be aware of what is possible when content is designed accessibly and accept difficulties as inevitable, they may not have experience with assistive technologies, or they may internalize and blame themself for any difficulties. Additionally, incoming undergraduates may have little to no experience with the types of digital content and systems they'll use at UO, which may present new and unique challenges. As a result, while 2.1% is a substantial number, the actual percentage of UO students impacted may be significantly higher.

Rates of specific disabilities and identities

Many incoming students reported having more than one disability or identity. As a result, the percentages below cannot be added across groups.

Asterisks (*) indicate disabilities and identities most likely to be impacted by digital content accessibility issues.

Category Percent
Chronic health conditions (diabetes, autoimmune, chronic pain or fatigue, cancer, asthma, etc.) 9.8%
*Cognitive, learning, memory, processing, or reading disability (ADHD, dyslexia, learning disability, dementia, etc.) 16.0%
*Fingers, hands, or arms (carpal tunnel syndrome, arthritis, etc.) 1.7%
*Hearing (deaf, partial hearing loss, etc.) 1.4%
Lower body, legs, or feet (difficulty walking or climbing stairs, CP, lower back issues, etc.) 2.9%
Mental health, emotional, or psychological (depression, OCD, PTSD, schizophrenia, etc.) 27.3%
*Neurodivergence (autism, ADHD, dyslexia, etc.) 13.5%
*Neurological (seizures, migraines, multiple sclerosis, etc.) 3.1%
*Speech 1.2%
*Vision (blind, colorblind, etc.) 2.5%
Uncategorizable other disability 0.4%

Oregon and U.S. Adult Population

Detailed disability data is not currently available for UO employees, but general population data from the state can be considered broadly representative. Additionally, general population statistics are helpful in understanding the audience for public activities and events hosted by the university.

Note that the BRFSS uses a much more limited definition of disability than UO, and overall percentages should not be directly compared to UO data. State and national data also represent a significantly older average population than UO students, and some categories (e.g., vision and hearing disabilities) are therefore expected to be significantly higher, as certain disabilities are more common in older individuals.

The following statistics are from the U.S. Disability and Health Data System, using 2021 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) data for adults 18 years of age or older. United States data includes all U.S. states, territories, and Washington, D.C., with the exception of Florida (Florida's data collection did not comply with federal requirements).

Category Oregon U.S.
Any Disability 28.5% 27.2%
Cognitive Disability 14.6% 12.8%
Hearing Disability 6.6% 6.1%
Mobility Disability 11.5% 12.1%
Vision Disability 4.1% 4.8%
Self-care Disability 3.8% 3.6%
Independent Living Disability 7.2% 7.2%

Oregon and U.S. Disability Rates by Race/Ethnicity

Disability rates are significantly higher among many marginalized groups, and inaccessible digital content therefore disproportionately affects members of those marginalized groups.

Note that category names are taken directly from the data source.

Category Oregon U.S.
White, non-Hispanic 27.9% 26.5%
Black, non-Hispanic 34.5% 29.3%
Hispanic 28.4% 31.1%
Asian, Non-Hispanic 14.5% 17.0%
American Indian or Alaska Native, non-Hispanic 50.1% 40.9%
Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander, non-Hispanic * 26.8%
Other/Multirace, non-Hispanic 36.3% 35.0%

*Data not available