Go to main content

5 things you didn't know about disability (TEST)

Discover some surprising facts about disability and take action to show your support for people with disabilities worldwide.

5-year-old Fayaz, a double amputee, plays cricket after school, Kashmir.

5-year-old Fayaz playing cricket after school in Kashmir. He lost both his legs in an accident with an unexploded shell. | © Lucas Veuve/Handicap International

1) There are more than 1 billion people with disabilities worldwide.

That's about 15% of the global population. The vast majority of people with disabilities live in developing countries.

Learning and laughing – Grace, 8 – Democratic Republic of Congo
Grace, 8, laughing with her schoolfriends in the Democratic Republic of Congo. © Photographer/Handicap International

2) The number of people with disabilities worldwide is increasing.

This is due to:

  • Ageing populations (older people have a higher risk of disability).
  • An increase in chronic health conditions such as diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and mental illness.
  • Environmental factors such as road accidents, natural disasters, and conflicts, which also contribute to the increase in disability.

3) Most of us will experience disability at  some point in our lives.

This could be due to a reduction in mobility as the result of ageing, developing a chronic health condition, or a temporary disability as the result of an accident (like a fracture).

A new committee member - Sri Lanka - Handicap International

4) Poor and vulnerable people are more likely to become disabled.

Globally, disability disproportionately affects vulnerable populations. For example, disability is more common among women, older people and poor households. It is also more prevalent in poorer countries than in richer countries.

Poorer people often have dangerous or unhealthy living conditions such as inadequate housing, water, and sanitation, and unsafe transportation and working conditions. This puts them at a higher risk of heath conditions or accidents that could lead to disability.

Injured and disabled fleeing conflict - South Sudan - Handicap International

5) People with disabilities are more likely to be poor.

People with disabilities are generally poorer than non-disabled people with a similar income, and therefore may have worse living conditions. There are a number of reasons for this:

  • People with disabilities may face additional costs for medical care, rehabilitation and personal assistance.
  • Exclusion from education. Children with disabilities are less likely to attend school than non-disabled children, particularly in poorer countries. This means they have less opportunity to gain skills and qualifications that will enable them to earn an income in the future.

  • Lack of access to employment. People with disabilities are more likely to be unemployed than non-disabled people. Even when they are employed, they are generally paid less than others for their work.

  • Social exclusion. People with disabilities often do not have access to public spaces because of physical barriers or lack of information, so they often cannot take part in political decision-making. Because their voices are not heard, their needs are often overlooked and they do not receive the support they need.

Removing barriers to learning - Adama, 12 , Senegal - Handicap International

What can we do?

[Explanation of what HI does/success stories/how to help/share buttons]


For more global statistics and information, why not explore the World Report on Disability.