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Research Letter
December 5, 2019

Trends in Employment by Dual Sensory Impairment Status

Author Affiliations
  • 1Wilmer Eye Institute, Department of Ophthalmology, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland
  • 2Department of Otolaryngology, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland
  • 3Department of Epidemiology, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, Maryland
JAMA Ophthalmol. 2020;138(2):213-215. doi:10.1001/jamaophthalmol.2019.4955

The Disability Statistics Annual Report, based on the American Community Survey, demonstrates that employment rates in 2016 among people with self-reported vision and hearing disabilities were 33.3% and 24.9% lower than people without disabilities in the United States, respectively.1 While this report assessed employment rates by sensory impairment, by design, the American Community Survey only captures the most severe impairment and the report fails to present data on those with dual sensory impairment (DSI), defined as concurrent vision impairment (VI) and hearing impairment (HI), a group that may be more vulnerable to unemployment. With the aging of the US population, the number of people with DSI is expected to increase, magnifying the public health significance of this subset. However, to our knowledge, there is limited cross-disciplinary research examining how DSI affects health, functioning, and well-being and little rehabilitation focus to accommodate needs specific to these individuals. In this article, we compare employment rates by VI, HI, and DSI status using data from the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) from the 2008 to 2017 cycles.

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