Defining disability is a significant challenge for public health. Surveillance systems must have some way of identifying people with disabilities, in order to produce comparative data on people with and without disabilities. There are surveillance systems that monitor the health and behaviors of people with disabilities that are a useful source of disability related data. Having disability and health data will help public health programs create and achieve health goals, determine the prevalence of disease, and target resources for better health outcomes. One commonly used surveillance system is the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS). States can use the BRFSS to monitor public health trends and needs, identify risks, and assess health care access.
Example: The State Disability and Health Grantees are charged with presenting states with data on the health of people with and without disabilities in their states, using data captured by the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS). The BRFSS is an annual random digit dial telephone survey (landline, cell) administered in every state to adults living in the community. The survey also collects information about behaviors that affect health (such as smoking and exercise), health care practices (such as getting a flu shot), and access to health care (such as having health insurance). BRFSS is one of many surveillance systems commonly used to present data on people with disabilities and provide support for funding and sustainability of public health programs.