10 facts on disability
Updated November 2017
People with disabilities are among the most marginalized groups in the world. People with disabilities have poorer health outcomes, lower education achievements, less economic participation and higher rates of poverty than people without disabilities.
Disability is now understood to be a human rights issue. People are disabled by society, not just by their bodies. These barriers can be overcome, if governments, nongovernmental organizations, professionals and people with disabilities and their families work together. The WHO/World Bank World report on disability shows the way forward.
Fact 1: Over a billion people live with some form of disabilityThis corresponds to about 15% of the world's population. Between 110-190 million adults have very significant difficulties in functioning. Rates of disability are increasing, due to population ageing and the global increase in chronic health conditions.
Fact 2: Disability disproportionately affects vulnerable populationsLower-income countries have a higher prevalence of disability than higher-income countries. Disability is more common among women, older people and children and adults who are poor.
Fact 3: People with disabilities often do not receive needed health careHalf of disabled people cannot afford health care, compared to a third of non-disabled people. People with disabilities are more than twice as likely to find health-care providers' skills inadequate. Disabled people are four times more likely to report being treated badly and nearly three times more likely to be denied health care.
Fact 4: Children with disabilities are less likely to attend school than non-disabled childrenEducation completion gaps are found across all age groups in all settings, with the pattern more pronounced in poorer countries. For example, the difference between the percentage of disabled children and the percentage of non-disabled children attending primary school ranges from 10% in India to 60% in Indonesia.
Fact 5: People with disabilities are more likely to be unemployed than non-disabled peopleGlobal data show that employment rates are lower for disabled men (53%) and disabled women (20%) than for non-disabled men (65%) and non-disabled women (30%). In OECD countries, the employment rate of people with disabilities (44%) was slightly over half that for people without disabilities (75%).
Fact 6: People with disabilities are vulnerable to povertyPeople with disabilities have worse living conditions–including insufficient food, poor housing, lack of access to safe water and sanitation–than non-disabled people. Because of extra costs such as medical care, assistive devices or personal support, people with disabilities are generally poorer than non-disabled people with similar income.
Fact 7: Rehabilitation helps to maximize functioning and support independenceIn many countries rehabilitation services are inadequate. Data from four Southern African countries found that only 26–55% of people received the medical rehabilitation they needed, while only 17–37% received the assistive devices they needed (e.g. wheelchairs, prostheses, hearing aids).
Fact 8: People with disabilities can live and participate in the community40% of people with disabilities do not generally have their needs met for assistance with everyday activities. In the United States of America, 70% of adults rely on family and friends for assistance with daily activities.
Fact 9: Disabling barriers can be overcomeGovernments can:
* promote access to mainstream services;
* invest in specific programmes for people with disabilities;
* adopt a national strategy and plan of action;
* improve staff education, training and recruitment;
* provide adequate funding;
* increase public awareness and understanding on disability;
* strengthen research and data collection; and
* ensure the involvement of people with disabilities in implementing policies and programmes.