Accessible Systems, Inc., a woman-owned small business, provides expert consultation and support to global organizations, federal agencies, IT manufacturers and individuals with disabilities regarding information technology accessibility.
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Disability Statistics

Welcome to Accessible Systems, Inc.'s Disability Statistics page. The goal of this data is to demonstrate the need for accessible technology, specifically within the United States. Legal requirements aside, accessibility makes good sense. As you will see below, many people with disabilities will benefit from steps taken to improve accessibility. In addition, people with disabilities comprise a large market for products that will improve their lives.

NOTE: We make no guarantee as to the accuracy of the information presented below. Accessible Systems, Inc. is not liable for any errors in the information or for any damages resulting from your use of this information.

Table A-1: Disability Status in the U.S. by Sex and Age

Population Both Sexes Male Female
Population 5 years and over 257,167,527 124,636,825 132,530,702
Population 5 years and over With a Disability 49,746,248 24,439,531 25,306,717
Population 5 years and over Percent with a Disability 19.3% 19.6% 19.1%
Population 5 to 15 years 45,133,667 23,125,324 22,008,343
Population 5 to 15 years With a Disability 2,614,919 1,666,230 948,689
Population 5 to 15 years Percent with a Disability 5.8% 7.2% 4.3%
Population 16 to 64 years 178,687,234 87,570,583 91,116,651
Population 16 to 64 years With a Disability 33,153,211 17,139,019 16,014,192
Population 16 to 64 years Percent with a Disability 18.6% 19.6% 17.6%
Population 65 years and over 33,346,626 13,940,918 19,405,708
Population 65 years and over With a Disability 13,978,118 5,634,282 8,343,836
65 years and over Percent with a Disability 41.9% 40.4% 43.0%

Base: U.S. civilian non-institutionalized population 5 years and over

Source: U.S. Census Bureau. Census 2000 Summary File 3. Retrieved May 20, 2005, from American FactFinder <factfinder.census.gov>

In Table A-1, there are about 49.7 million people (about 19 percent) who have a disability. By breaking the population down according to age, we have the opportunity to consider how each age group may be impacted by accessible technology. School-age children with disabilities (represented in the first group) require technology that will allow them to participate more fully in educational opportunities. The second group (16 to 64 years) includes mostly working-age people. The 33 million people with disabilities among this age group represent a large market for technology that will make it possible for these people to enter the workforce. Finally, the greatest percentage of people with disabilities is found within the population over age 65. Although this group is primarily not in the workforce, it also has technology needs, particularly in terms of making information accessible.

Table A-2: Employment Status of U.S. Population 21 to 64 years with a Disability by Sex

Population Both Sexes Male Female
Population 21 to 64 years 159,131,544 77,665,879 81,465,665
With a Disability 30,553,796 15,700,589 14,853,207
Employed 17,288,292 9,606,846 7,681,446
Percent Employed 56.6% 61.2% 51.7%
Not Employed 13,265,504 6,093,743 7,171,761
Percent Not Employed 43.4% 38.8% 48.3%

Base: U.S. civilian non-institutionalized population 21 to 64 years

Source: U.S. Census Bureau. Census 2000 Summary File 3. Retrieved May 20, 2005, from American FactFinder <factfinder.census.gov>

Table A-2 shows that although people with disabilities are represented in the workforce, there is still a great opportunity for improvement in this area. How many more people with disabilities would be listed under the employed category if accessible technology were more available? The information in Table A-2 does not answer this question. We suspect that as more technology becomes available, people with disabilities, who otherwise would have been unable to work, will join the workforce.

Table B-1: Likelihood to Benefit from the Use of Accessible Technology by Type of Difficulty/Impairment among Working-Age Adults

Difficulty/Impairment Working-Age Population (millions) Percentage Likely to Benefit
Mild Visual Difficulty/Impairment 27.4 16%
Severe Visual Difficulty/Impairment 18.5 11%
Mild Dexterity Difficulty/Impairment 31.7 19%
Severe Dexterity Difficulty/Impairment 12 7%
Mild Hearing Difficulty/Impairment 32 19%
Severe Hearing Difficulty/Impairment 4.3 3%

Source: Study Commissioned by Microsoft Corporation and Conducted by Forrester Research, Inc., in 2004, <www.microsoft.com/enable/research>

Table B-1 clearly demonstrates the need for accessible technology among U.S. working-age adults (in Tables B-1 and B-2, working-age has been defined as 18 to 64 years). In examining the data in this table, you may notice that in Table B-1, the total population with difficulties/impairments is much greater than 49.7 million, the total U.S. population with disabilities listed in Table A-1. The reason is that the Microsoft study from which we took the data in Table B-1 identifies individuals "who are not measured in other studies as 'disabled' but who do experience difficulty in performing daily tasks and could benefit from the use of accessible technology." (Study Commissioned by Microsoft Corporation and Conducted by Forrester Research, Inc., in 2004, http://www.microsoft.com/enable/research)

Table B-2: Majority of Working-Age Adults Likely to Benefit from the Use of Accessible Technology

Degree of Difficulty Likelihood to Benefit from Accessible Technology
No/Minimal Difficulties 40% Unlikely
Mild Difficulties 38% Likely
Severe Difficulties 22% Very Likely

Source: Study Commissioned by Microsoft Corporation and Conducted by Forrester Research, Inc., in 2004,

Table B-2 provides more evidence of the potential benefits of accessible technology. According to the table, some 60 percent of U.S. working-age adults are likely or very likely to benefit from such technology. (Study Commissioned by Microsoft Corporation and Conducted by Forrester Research, Inc., in 2004, http://www.microsoft.com/enable/research)

Table C-1: Other Disability Statistics

Type of Disability Population Source
Physical Disability (U.S.) 21,151,305 U.S. Census Bureau. Census 2000 Summary File 3. Retrieved May 20, 2005, from American FactFinder
Blindness (U.S.) 1,100,000 National Federation of the Blind (2004). About the NFB
Low Vision (U.S.) >3,000,000 National Advisory Eye Council (1998) cited in Lighthouse International (2005). VisionConnection
Disability (Worldwide) 600,000,000 Yale Center for Interdisciplinary Research on AIDS (2003). HIV/AIDS Disability and Global Survey
woman in wheelchair at computer with man pointing at computer screen