Disability facts and figures

Disability facts and figures

There are many sources on the web that have disability statistics. We found the following at CSR Europe.

  • The International Labour Organisation estimates that there are 610 million disabled people worldwide.

  • Four hundred million disabled people live in the world's developing countries

  • Disability is estimated to affect 10 per cent to 20 per cent of every country's population, a percentage that is expected to grow because of poor health care and nutrition early in life, growing elderly populations and violent civil conflicts.

  • 39 million disabled people in Europe.

  • 8.6 million people (aged 16 and over) self declare as disabled UK (15 per cent of the UK population).

  • Only 8 per cent of disabled people in the UK use a wheelchair.

    (CSR Europe, ‘Disability: facts and figures’ (Accessed 30 July 2007))

  • The Open University (OU) has a long history of encouraging and supporting disabled students. In 2004, The OU had 10,348 students who declared a disability. The figures for the different categories collected in September 2006 are shown in the table following. The last column gives the number as a percentage of the 9,782 students. (Both columns add up to more than 9,782 and 100 per cent as many students have more than one disability.)

Category OU numbers OU%
Mobility/Physical 3253 33.0
Mental health 2598 27.0
Dyslexia 1930 20.0
Visual impairment 1090 11.0
Hearing 783 8.0
Personal care 796 8.0
Fatigue/Pain 4550 47.0
Manual 2117 22.0
Speech 364 3.0
Unseen disability 351 4.0
Autistic spectrum 29 0.3
Other 2226 23.0
Total students 9,782  
Source: Unpublished figures from the OU Disabled Student Services

The OU data are slightly different to the national figures for all disabled higher education students in the UK. The most recently available national figures are for 2004 and are given in the table below.

Category All HE Numbers All HE %
Mobility/Physical 4930 4
Mental health 5270 4
Dyslexia 49945 41
Visual impairment 3405 3
Hearing 6120 5
Personal care 260 under 1
An unseen disability 24340 20
Multiple disabilities 11965 10
Other 14840 12
Total students 121080  
Source: National Disability Team website (Accessed 30 July 2007)