UTAH

Up to a quarter of Utahns struggle with disabilities, report says

May 20, 2024, 10:34 AM | Updated: 10:35 am

Jared Dangerfield, Wasatch Adaptive Sports program manager, skis with retired United States Marine ...

Right to left, Jared Dangerfield, Wasatch Adaptive Sports program manager, skis with retired United States Marine Corps Sergeant Chris Francis at Solitude Mountain Resort in Solitude on Wednesday, April 17, 2024. A Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute report found that between 12 and 25% of Utahns struggle with some form of disability. (Megan Nielsen/Deseret News)

(Megan Nielsen/Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY – The Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute is working on a new report looking at Utahns struggling with disabilities.

The institute’s findings paint an eye-opening picture, and it’s one director of industry research Laura Summers wants to spread.

“Overall, national surveys… estimate between 12% and 25% of adults in Utah do have a disability. That is a significant portion of our adult population,” said Summers. 

The Institute discovered that among Utah adults, 12.9% have a cognitive disability. 9.2% have a mobility disability.

Examining disability rates in relation to ethnicity showed that Native Americans and Alaskans made up the majority of people experiencing disability. African Americans and Pacific Islanders follow closely behind. 

Regardless of their ethnicity, disabled adults in Utah face unique challenges. They can include educational hurdles, housing costs, and health issues. 

33% of disabled Utahns reported experiencing poor-to-fair health. As of 2021, 13.5% of them said they do not have insurance. 

Nearly the same amount reported spending more than 30% of their income on housing.

Also, they are less likely to earn a bachelor’s degree compared to Utahns who do not experience disabilities. 

Summers said the challenging details weren’t included in previous reports. She’s hoping the final report will find its way to policymakers.

“This is part of a larger report where we provide more in-depth information,” she said, adding the Institute hopes to “provide that information so that people can see… what policies need to be implemented to address these issues.”

The institute continues to work on the larger report.

Related: Wasatch Adaptive Sports hosts disability-inclusive Subaru Athlete Challenge

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Up to a quarter of Utahns struggle with disabilities, report says