Kentucky Has High Disabilty Rates

By: Associated Press
By: Associated Press

Federal figures show Kentucky has the nation's second-highest percentage of people with disabilities, behind only West Virginia.

The U-S Census shows nearly one of four Kentuckians has a physical, mental, sensory or self-care disability. And a 2005 survey for the U-S Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that disabilities limit the activities of almost 23 percent of adult residents.

Tommy Clark is disabilities coordinator for Louisville's metro government. He says if the disabled were all registered voters, they would be the biggest voting bloc in the state.

A major factor driving up those numbers, experts say, is the overall poor health of Kentuckians. State officials say they are trying to improve health with initiatives such as Get Healthy Kentucky, which Governor Fletcher highlighted recently at forums stressing exercise, eating right and avoiding tobacco.

Government officials, who expect the number of disabled to rise as the population ages, say they are also trying to better serve those residents.

The Kentucky Office of Homeland Security held a summit last month on how to meet the needs of disabled people during emergencies and disasters.

And in December, Fletcher signed an executive order creating the Department for Aging and Independent Living, which he said will "better ensure that Kentucky's seniors and individuals with disabilities have the services and resources they need to live independently and with dignity."

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