Disabled People in the World in 2019: facts and figures

 

There are currently more than 2 billion disabled people in the world, that is 37.5% of the world’s population. According to the World Health Organization (WHO) a disabled person is anyone who has “a problem in body function or structure, an activity limitation, has a difficulty in executing a task or action; with a participation restriction”.

What are the different types of disabilities? How many people are affected? Which populations are most at risk? Let’s take stock of the facts and figures around the world.

 

How many people have disabilities in the world?

 

You may not see disabled people in your everyday life, and yet the WHO has identified over 2 billion disabled people, 20% of whom live with great functional difficulties in their day to day lives.

A few outstanding figures of disability around the world (according to the WHO):

⊗ 1.3 billion people are affected by some form of blindness and visual impairment. This represents 17% of the world’s population.

⊗ 466 million people have a disabling deafness and hearing loss. This represents 6% of the world’s population.

⊗ About 200 million people have an intellectual disability (IQ below 75). This represents 2.6% of the world’s population.

⊗ 75 million people need a wheelchair on a daily basis. This represents 1% of the world’s population.

These figures may remain an evolutionary average, but one thing is certain: the number of people affected by any form of disability represents a significant part of the world population, from adults to children. It is also important to underline the fact that some people are multi-handicapped and have multiple disabilities.

 

Explanation of global disability figures

 

More and more people are affected by disability every year. It is often the most vulnerable people who are most at risk. The WHO says that “the number of people with disabilities is increasing because of the aging of the population and the increase of chronic diseases”.

 

Key facts:

⊗ in 2017, people aged over 60 years old represented 962 million people, which was twice as many as in 1980

⊗ 1 in 2 disabled person cannot afford treatment

⊗ people with disabilities have a more fragile general health

⊗ disability increases dependency and limits participation in society

⊗ the poverty rate is higher for people with disabilities

These gaps are due to barriers to accessing health, education, transportation, information and work services – which many of us are taking for granted.

 

A definition of invisible disability

 

The concept of invisible disability takes its name from the forms of disability that are not apparent but that impact the quality of life. Among these are schizophrenia or deafness for example.

Far from clichés representing a disabled person in a wheelchair on the usual signage all over the world, the field of disability includes a vast range of disorders that are sensory, cognitive, psychological or chronic.

In the United States about 10% of Americans have a medical condition which could be considered an invisible disability.

 

In conclusion

 

As we can see, disability comes in many different forms and is progressing all over the world. While some disabilities are temporary, others, on the other hand, affect the everyday actions of people in the long term.

Getting to know more about disabled people is getting to know more than 2 billion citizens of the world who are longing for one thing: a more accessible world!

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According to the World Health Organization (WHO) a disabled person is anyone who has “a problem in body function or structure, an activity limitation, has a difficulty in executing a task or action; with a participation restriction”.

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Lise Wagner

Lise Wagner

Accessibility Expert

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