Determining the number of people with physical and sensory disabilities in Lower Austria and their need for support
Based on the recommendation of the Regional Court of Audit of Lower Austria to further develop services of disability assistance for people with physical and/or sensory disabilities in a needs-oriented manner, the project "Determining the number of people with physical and/or sensory disabilities and determining their support needs" was launched. The main objective of the project, commissioned by the Lower Austrian Department of Social Affairs, was to present the current situation of people with physical and sensory disabilities in Lower Austria as validly as possible and to forecast their development until 2030.
The focus was on the following three central research questions:
What is the current number of people with physical, sensory or multiple disabilities in Lower Austria and how will the number develop until 2030?
What is the distribution of the severity of the handicap(s) and the resulting level of support for the group?
What are the group's current needs for assistive devices and what developments can be expected in the area of assistive devices in the future?
The project was accompanied by a steering group of self-advocates and stakeholders as part of a participatory process. This served the exchange of content as well as the preparation of surveys and calculations.
Methodologically, a multi-layered approach was chosen, as no all-encompassing, valid statistics on the number of people with disabilities could be accessed. Rather, data on people with disabilities with different focal points, such as the labour market, education or health restrictions from a subjective point of view, can be found.
Accordingly, the study team used secondary data sources, such as data on increased family allowance, data on recipients of disability, occupational disability or incapacity pensions, as well as data on recipients of disability pensions, as these were identified in the course of comprehensive research activities as being the most informative with regard to the type of disability or degree of support of the group to be surveyed. In addition, a primary survey was also conducted at all public schools in Lower Austria. This was seen as a resource-efficient and valid way to collect relevant information from the entire age cohort of school-age children and adolescents. For plausibility checks or supplementation, data on recipients of care allowance or holders of the disability passport were used, for example.
The data collected in these ways, compiled and, where possible, systematically linked with each other, formed the basis for the current situation, i.e. a population of children, adolescents and adults with impairments and handicaps of different degrees of severity or the need for support based on them, who correspond to the target group of this study and who are or would be relevant for services of the disability support of the province of Lower Austria.
In order to determine the future development of services for people with physical handicaps or sensory disabilities, corresponding prognosis calculations up to the year 2030 were carried out on the basis of the population forecast of Statistics Austria.
In order to answer the third question concerning the need for assistive devices and the developments in the field of assistive devices, research was conducted and discussions were held with experts from different disciplines. In this way, it was possible to draw a good picture of the current and future situation with regard to specific disabilities.
The study is rounded off by recommendations for action that the study team was able to derive from the data, research activities and discussions with experts and representatives of the steering group.
The report and the central results are expected to be presented at the beginning of 2021 as part of an event organised by the province of Lower Austria and will then be made available for download here.