The data on disability status were derived from answers to long-form questionnaire Items 16 and 17. Item 16 was a two-part question that asked about the existence of the following long-lasting conditions: (a) blindness, deafness, or a severe vision or hearing impairment (sensory disability) and (b) a condition that substantially limits one or more basic physical activities, such as walking, climbing stairs, reaching, lifting, or carrying (physical disability). Item 16 was asked of a sample of the population 5 years old and over.
Item 17 was a four-part question that asked if the individual had a physical, mental, or emotional condition lasting 6 months or more that made it difficult to perform certain activities. The four activity categories were: (a) learning, remembering, or concentrating (mental disability); (b) dressing, bathing, or getting around inside the home (self-care disability); (c) going outside the home alone to shop or visit a doctors office (going outside the home disability); and (d) working at a job or business (employment disability). Categories 17a and 17b were asked of a sample of the population 5 years old and over; 17c and 17d were asked of a sample of the population 16 years old and over.
For data products that use the items individually, the following terms are used: sensory disability for 16a, physical disability for 16b, mental disability for 17a, self-care disability for 17b, going outside the home disability for 17c, and employment disability for 17d. For data products that use a disability status indicator, individuals were classified as having a disability if any of the following three conditions were true: (1) they were 5 years old and over and had a response of "yes" to a sensory, physical, mental or self-care disability; (2) they were 16 years old and over and had a response of "yes" to going outside the home disability; or (3) they were 16 to 64 years old and had a response of "yes" to employment disability.
The 1990 census data products did not include a general disability status indicator. Furthermore, a comparable indicator could not be constructed since the conceptual framework of the 1990 census was more limited. The questionnaire included only three types of disability in questions with four subparts. The questions asked about whether an individual had a condition that had lasted for 6 months or more and that (1) limited the kind or amount of work that he or she could do at a job, (2) prevented the individual from working at a job, (3) made it difficult to go outside the home alone (for example, to shop or visit a doctors office), and (4) made it difficult to take care of his or her own personal needs, such as bathing, dressing, or getting around inside the home. The 1990 disability questions were asked on the long form questionnaire of the population 15 years old and over.