The Tennessee Disability Coalition gave the state a “D+” on its 2022 Tennessee Disability Scorecard for working individuals with disabilities.
The report is based on eight key areas for disability in 2022. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about one-third of Tennesseans have some sort of disability, making them the state’s single largest minority group. Housing was the most pressing concern among the eight priority areas for working Tennesseeans with disabilities.
Median property prices and household income were estimated by county. This assumed a fixed 30-year mortgage at 5% interest with a 20% down payment. According to the TDC, 80 of Tennessee’s 95 counties were unaffordable for working Tennesseans with disabilities.
Cyndi Leach is paraplegic after having polio as a child. She uses a wheelchair. Over the years, Cyndi has spent over $200,000 to make her cars wheelchair accessible. It’s a price she’s had to pay with little help from the state.
The state has failed in terms of medical debt, the availability of home healthcare providers, and access to affordable housing. According to the research, AARP rated Tennessee 49th nationwide for supporting family caregivers. This shows that the state is also failing to help these individuals.
Additionally, residents of predominantly Black neighborhoods in and around Knoxville are more than twice as likely as those in predominantly white neighborhoods to owe money for medical bills. Data from the Urban Institute credit bureau shows this. This is one of the country’s biggest racial disparities.
Rhonda Clark, who has Cerebral Palsy, uses a power wheelchair that cannot fold, making it difficult for it to fit in most vehicles. She can use AccessRide, a paratransit service that disabled residents of Davidson County can register for online. Clark expressed a desire for the service to be extended to people living outside of Davidson County.
Steve Norman, who lost his sight when he was 22, was raised in Nashville and now resides in Murfreesboro. He lost access to AccessRide when he moved. His apartment building is located on a main thoroughfare. He approached a city planner around seven years ago. He requested that the sidewalk be extended so he could get around more safely. There has been nothing done yet.
Disabled people should have access to services that allow them to be a part of their communities. Wages should be increased to make it easier to find support staff. Without assistance, people could end up living in long-term care facilities. Tennesseans with disabilities deserve to live full lives. Everyone deserves to have access to the resources they need to thrive.
Gilbert, Rose. “Citizen Nashville: The Challenges of Navigating Middle Tennessee with a Disability – and What Can Be Done to Make It More Accessible.” WPLN News, NPR, 8 Mar. 2022, https://wpln.org/post/citizen-nashville-the-challenges-of-navigating-middle-tennessee-with-a-disability-and-what-can-be-done-to-make-it-more-accessible/.
Levey, Noam. “Why Black Americans Are More Likely to Be Saddled with Medical Debt.” NPR, NPR, 27 Oct. 2022, https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2022/10/27/1131984451/medical-debt-racial-inequities.
Pentilde, Sam. “Tennessee Residents Attest to State’s ‘d+’ Grade for Supporting Adults with Disabilities.” WTVC, WTVC, 8 Nov. 2022, https://newschannel9.com/news/local/tennessee-residents-attest-to-states-d-grade-for-supporting-adults-with-disabilities.
Torres, Madalyn. “Tennessee Disability Coalition: Tennessee Receives ‘D+’ on Disability Scorecard.” WBIR, NBC, 7 Nov. 2022, https://www.wbir.com/article/news/state/tennessee-disability-knoxville-knox-county-nashville-state-scorecard/51-eda4469e-98f3-4be7-a9e7-13f6974139a6.