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Re: Statistics on accessibility

From: Christophe Strobbe <christophe.strobbe@esat.kuleuven.be>
Date: Thu, 14 Jul 2005 12:21:02 +0200
Message-Id: <>
To: w3c-wai-ig@w3.org


At 15:44 4/07/2005, Alice Good wrote:

>Does anyone know any sites that shows statistics on the different types of 
>affecting accessibility, including the older population?  I have figures 
>relating to the UK
>but can't seem to find much depicting the worldwide situation.

Earlier, I responded to Alice instead of to the list. I have found some 
more references for Europe but not for the whole world. Gathering 
supranational data would be difficult because the criteria for determining 
disability are not the same in all countries (see "Definitions of 
Disability in Europe: A Comparative Analysis" at 
239 pages!).
You might find some world-wide demographics on UN Enable 
(http://www.un.org/esa/socdev/enable/); I haven't checked that site.
The OECD Statistics Portal 
links to, among other things, OECD Health Data that are kept up to date 
but they don't seem to gather data on disabilities. The page with links to 
"Social Policy Related Sites" 
may be more useful.
has figures on "disability free life expectancy" but I am not aware of any 
figures on specific disabilities.
The European Union has data on "prevalence of any chronic illness" 
but these do not specify any specific disabilities.
You may also wish to consult the report on "The State of Mental Health in 
the European Union" 
The report "Included in Society: Results and Recommendations of the 
European Research Initiative on Community-Based Residential Alternatives 
for Disabled People" 
(http://europa.eu.int/comm/employment_social/index/socinc_en.pdf) provides 
data on people with disabilities placed in large residential institutions.

Earlier message:

I don't know of any worldwide statistics that can be attributed to a 
reliable source. I expected to find them on the web site of the World 
Health Organization (http://www.who.int/en/) but you can search forever on 
that site. The United Nations Statistics Division was going to start 
collecting statistics this year 
(http://unstats.un.org/unsd/demographic/sconcerns/disability/), but the 
data I have found so far lump all disabilities together.
For Europe, you can find figures in "Access-Ability: Making technology more 
useable by people with disabilities" by John Gill (2004) on the Tiresias 
website (see 
a link to a PDF version is available at 
http://www.tiresias.org/guidelines/access-ability/). The table with 
percentages contains the same numbers as the table for the UK at 
http://www.tiresias.org/guidelines/demographics.htm, but the percentage of 
blind persons in the UK is apparently 0.4%, as opposed to 0.1% for Europe.

For the US, an older reference is
Laplante, M.P. (1991). The demographics of disability. In West, J. (Ed.), 
The Americans with Disabilities Act: From policy to practice. New York: 
Milbank Memorial Fund.
More recent figures should be available in the Harris Survey of Americans 
with Disabilities 
(Should you be interested in American Catholics (a minority in the US, as 
in the UK), there are more recent data at 

Some people have argued that demographics/statistics should be used <ith 
caution when making a business case for accessibility. See e.g.  Kevin 
Carey's speech "e-Europe and e-Accessibility: the user perspective" 
and his "Notes on the demographics of disability and the www" 


Christophe Strobbe

>Many thanks

Christophe Strobbe
K.U.Leuven - Departement of Electrical Engineering - Research Group on 
Document Architectures
Kasteelpark Arenberg 10 - 3001 Leuven-Heverlee - BELGIUM
tel: +32 16 32 85 51
Received on Thursday, 14 July 2005 10:21:59 UTC

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