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Living with Disabilities in Knox County Report and Story Map Available

April 14, 2021 | More News

More than 54,000 people in Knox County, or 11.9 percent of the total population, have at least one disability. The City of Knoxville’s share is even greater at 13.5 percent.

With Baby Boomers reaching their senior years, and Generation X following soon after, accommodating people with disabilities will become an even greater challenge. People of any age can have disabilities but the rate increases with age; almost a quarter of individuals age 65 to 74 have at least one disability and half of those age 75 and older have a disability. Working with City and County ADA Coordinators and the Mayor's Council on Disability Issues, we explored some of the topics identified as challenges for people with disabilities so we can better plan for the future.

While the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA, 1990) prohibits discrimination in jobs, schools, transportation, housing environments, and places open to the public, not all barriers to people with disabilities have been resolved.

Issues that are especially challenging are access to higher education, employment opportunities, living wages, and greater housing options.

Knox County residents with disabilities are half as likely to obtain a higher education than those without disabilities. Less than 20 percent obtain a bachelor’s degree or higher – 20 percentage points less than the share of Knox County residents without disabilities.

A total of 76.3 percent of people age 16 and over with disabilities were non-working, compared to 31.6% of people without disabilities. Not only are people with disabilities less likely to be employed, but they are also likely to earn less; people with disabilities earn a median annual income of $21,400, which is more than $10,000 less than people without disabilities.

These and other physical and social obstacles that continue to impact people with disabilities will take time and investment to fix. Knox County, the City of Knoxville, CAC, and community leaders are continually working to create a more inclusive, accessible, prosperous community.

For more information, check out the story map or latest addition to Planning’s Technical Report series.