Results of online Public Health survey

The Independent Living Resource Center (ILRC), a disability services and advocacy nonprofit organization in California, is excited to announce the results of our online Public Health survey today. ILRC’s Public Health Advocate, Emily Bridges, created the anonymous questionnaire in January 2023 to discuss access issues people with disabilities and older adults encounter throughout Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo, and Ventura Counties. Participants shared their responses through the deadline of November 17, 2023. Topics addressed feelings on interactions with healthcare providers, insurance and other benefits, access to local resources, and general thoughts.

A total of 86 people participated in the online survey. When asked to rank their satisfaction on a scale of 1 to 5, most respondents selected 3, 4, or 5. These choices indicate most of the people who answered feel their needs are generally being met. However, in the comments sections, feedback brought up various issues in ILRC’s service area. Such concerns include:

Being overlooked by professionals for their needs (i.e., physicians, insurance providers, resource staff). Enrolling and scheduling appointments are also complex and time-consuming processes. Unaffordable, scarce, or inaccessible services, especially in rural areas (i.e., caregiving, housing, and transportation). Also, few options extend beyond county boundaries. Services typically do not consider whole-person care and social determinants of health, like safety, education, and social support.

The above findings show a need for more awareness, training, and policies focused on improving access to healthcare and other resources. Similar instances of healthcare inequity for people with disabilities occur across the United States, which has prompted federal government agencies like the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to center more research and initiatives on addressing this widespread concern.

On a local level, different but connected improvement suggestions apply to the affected individual, providers, and policymakers. Patients could use advocacy strategies when speaking with professionals, such as highlighting the main reasons for their visit and asking clarifying questions. Service professionals could further their knowledge in disability competency and allow for more creative supports tailored to meet the needs of the person (i.e., care navigators, telehealth, and mobile/at-home support). Finally, legislators could host town halls to share updates and feedback from their constituents. The comments could serve as the blueprints for new laws and programs to improve equity and access.

The Independent Living Resource Center was founded in October 1976. We have offices serving Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo, and Ventura Counties. Our mission is to promote independent living and full access for individuals with disabilities through advocacy, education, and action in our communities.

If you have any questions, ILRC staff will be happy to talk more about the survey results and how to improve access within the community. For further information, please visit

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