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j. 1. B. Who are minorities;

Current Narrative:

While results of the 2017 CSNA did not indicate any specific ethnic groups with limited access to VR services, ADRS continues to assess its services to individuals with disabilities from minority populations. For the most part, the needs of minority respondents to the 2017 SRC Unmet Needs Survey were parallel to those of individuals of non—minority backgrounds. However, some differentiation can be noted. Respondents from minority backgrounds were more likely than others to report difficulties with transportation, housing, and access to training services.
Although not reflected in the SRC survey, external research regarding minorities with disabilities identify language barriers as a concern, particularly among those of Hispanic or Asian origin. ADRS remains sensitive to language and cultural barriers that may occur during outreach and service delivery.

Recent Data from the American Community Survey (ACS) indicates a higher prevalence of disability among persons who may be considered minorities with the exception of those of Asian or Hispanic origin. African American individuals make up nearly 27% of Alabama’s total population and there is a 19% disability rate among Alabama’s African American Population as compared to a 14% rate among whites. Data from the Census Bureau regarding individuals who may be considered minorities in Alabama demonstrates a level of unemployment that is nearly double the rate of non-minorities in 2015. This disparity ranks Alabama 34th among states. While rates of disability and unemployment are higher among minorities in Alabama, so too is VR program participation among those same minority groups. For example, whereas Alabama’s African American population comprises 27% of the total populous, African Americans make up 45% of those participating in VR services over the last three fiscal years. Findings of the 2017 CSNA suggest a significant increase in the number of Hispanic individuals with disabilities present within VR’s service population. While 4% of Alabama’s total population are of Hispanic decent, only
1.48% of Alabamians with disabilities are of Hispanic origin. In fiscal year 2014, only .9% of VR’s service population were of Hispanic origin. VR participation among persons of Hispanic origin grew by at least 50 individuals per year over this CSNA period, reaching 1.3% of the service population in fiscal year 2016, and 1.9% in fiscal year 2017. Program data support the conclusion that VR services are made available equitably across all areas of the state. Representative diversity among minority populations can be demonstrated in terms of outreach, eligibility and program outcomes. Nevertheless, efforts will continue at the local level to be sure that minorities are aware of agency services and programs. Furthermore, the agency employs a diversity & recruitment coordinator to ensure that we have a diverse staff to meet the varied needs of the consumers served by the agency. ADRS maintains a diversity plan that has been approved by the administration. This plan indicates strategies to hire minority staff to work within the agency. The agency conducts diversity training for all agency staff to address the needs of diverse consumers the agency serves. ADRS recognizes and has addressed statewide needs for contract interpreting services, particularly among individuals within the Hispanic population, but within other populations as well.