How Many People Have Disabilities?

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World Wide Statistics

Worldwide estimates are as many as 500 million people with disabilities. Based on 1996 population estimates approximately 45 million people are blind and 135 million people have low vision. It is also estimated that 7 million people become blind each year, which puts the 1996 figure of 45 million to be 73 million for 2001. (World Health Organisation).

Australia Statistics

In 1988, 2,543,100 people or 16 per cent of the Australian population were disabled. Of these people, 2,120,600 (13% of the population) were found to be also handicapped.
Australia Statistics

UK Statistics

1.7 million people in the UK have a serious sight problem. There are around 23,000 people in the UK who have a severe loss of both sight and hearing. Approximately 200,000 have less serious dual sensory loss. UK Statistics

US Statistics

While it is difficult to calculate precisely the number of people impacted by inaccessible computer and software design it is estimated that over 50 million in the United States alone have disabilities. In the US estimates indicate that as many as 20 percent of Americans are affected.

Nearly nine million people in the United States have severe visual impairments and a much larger number have minor vision problems. Many require a reasonably high contrast between text and the background to be able to read. They may even need a particular scheme, such as light text on a dark background, to prevent the background from “bleeding” over and obscuring the foreground text. Other people consider the default colour scheme quite legible, but find that it causes eyestrain over longer periods of time. Still others, including nearly 10 percent of males, have some form of colour blindness that makes certain colour combinations unreadable. Lighthouse International

The likelihood of acquiring a disability increases considerably with age. In the U.S., 10 percent of people aged 21 and younger have disabilities, compared with 36 percent for people aged 55 – 64, and 72 percent for people over 80.

Age Group Proportion of People with Disabilities 
0 – 21 10% 
22 – 44 14.9% 
45 – 54 24.5% 
55 – 64 36.3% 
65 – 79 47.3% 
80+ 71.5%

Visual and hearing impairments are among the disabilities associated with ageing.
U.S. Census Bureau 
Last updated on March 1, 2001