Disability Scorecard

The Tennessee Disability Coalition (TDC), a 501(c)3 nonprofit and nonpartisan alliance of 40+ member organizations, today released the 2022 Tennessee Disability Scorecard (Scorecard) giving a cumulative D+ to the Volunteer State for working adults with disabilities.

The new Scorecard grades eight disability priority areas for 2022, and will be reviewed annually to ensure the lived experiences of Tennesseans are at the forefront of all policy decisions made by state leaders including lawmakers, appointed commissioners, and municipalities. Per the Center for Disease Control & Prevention, close to 1 in 3 (1.6 million) Tennesseans experience some form of disability, comprising the single largest minority group in Tennessee.

Of the eight priority areas, housing was of dire concern for working Tennesseans with disabilities. Median home prices and household income were calculated by county, and assumed a fixed 30-year mortgage at 5% interest, with a 20% down payment. Of Tennessee’s 95 counties, 80 were unaffordable for working Tennesseans with disability.

“The Tennessee Disability Coalition receives tens of thousands of calls every year from current and future residents of Tennessee wanting to know what they can expect for themselves, or their children,” said TDC Executive Director, Carol Westlake. “They want a snapshot, but it’s tough to fully explain the reality of living and working in Tennessee with a disability. Many of the norms they’re familiar with, or have heard about in other states, probably don’t exist here. If they do, there’s a good chance they’re underspent, overly-bureaucratic, or both; leaving the disability community of Tennessee drowning in a sea of red tape.”

The 2022 Tennessee Disability Scorecard looked at eight priority areas for working adults in the state’s disability community. In it, the State of Tennessee achieved an overall grade of D+. 

“Tennesseans with disabilities, like all Tennesseans, simply want to work, and live our lives. The Scorecard highlights the issues directly impacting working Tennesseans with disabilities, and the grades are the direct product of policy and administrative decisions made by elected leaders, and appointed state commissioners” said Jeff Strand, Coordinator of Government &  External Affairs at the Tennessee Disability Coalition. “We look forward to reviewing and releasing the Scorecard annually on behalf of Tennessee’s disability community both to educate Tennesseans, as well as the thousands of residents moving here every day.”

Strand added, “our Tennessee Disability Scorecard serves two distinct functions.

1. It gives future residents, and current Tennesseans, a snapshot of what working with a disability is like in Tennessee.

2. By reviewing and updating it annually, it gives hardworking Tennesseans a chance to give Tennessee’s leaders a performance review on the issues that matter to us, and impact our work – just like any other employer would do.”