Diversity & Inclusion

Americans with Disabilities Act: Statistics from the U.S. Census Bureau

On July 26, 1990, President George H.W. Bush signed into law the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), guaranteeing equal opportunity for people with disabilities in public accommodations, commercial facilities, employment, transportation, state and local government services, and telecommunications. Here are some statistics about America’s disabled population from the U.S. Census Bureau:

  • There are 41.3 million people who have some level of disability. They represent 15 percent of the civilian noninstitutionalized population age five and older.
  • Sixteen percent of females have a disability, compared with 14 percent of males.
  • There are 10.7 million disabled people age six and older who need personal assistance with one or more activities of daily living (such as taking a bath or shower) or instrumental activities of daily living (such as using the telephone). This group amounts to four percent of people in this age category.
  • There are 2.7 million people age 15 and older who use a wheelchair. Another 9.1 million use an ambulatory aid such as a cane, crutches, or walker.
  • There are 1.8 million people age 15 and older who report being unable to see.
  • There are 1 million people age 15 and older who report being unable to hear.
  • There are 2.6 million people age 15 and older who have some difficulty having their speech understood by others. Of this number, 610,000 were unable to have their speech understood at all.
  • There are 14.3 million people with limitations in cognitive functioning or who have a mental or emotional illness that interferes with daily activities, including those with Alzheimer’s disease and mental retardation. This group comprises six percent of the population age 15 and older.
  • There are 11.8 million 16- to 64-year-olds who reported a medical condition that makes it difficult to find a job or remain employed. They comprise six percent of the population this age.
  • In the 21 to 64 age group, 56 percent of those people who report having some type of disability were employed in the past year. The rate ranged from 82 percent of those with a nonsevere disability to 43 percent with a severe disability. For those without a disability, the employment rate is 88 percent for the same period.
  • Of people with a nonsevere disability, 44 percent work full time, year-round. This compares with 53 percent without a disability and 13 percent with a severe disability.
  • The median earnings for people with a nonsevere disability is $22,000. This compares with $25,000 for those with no disability and $12,800 for those with a severe disability.
  • Of people age 25 to 64 with a nonsevere disability, 60 percent live in married-couple families. The corresponding rates are 68 percent for those without disabilities and 50 percent for people with severe disabilities.
  • Of people with a nonsevere disability, 23 percent live alone or with nonrelatives. This compares with 28 percent of those with a severe disability and 19 percent without a disability.
  • Of people age 25 to 64 who had a nonsevere disability, 33 percent were college graduates. This compares with 43 percent with no disability and 22 percent with a severe disability.
  • There were 2.7 million veterans who received compensation totaling $26.6 billion for service-connected disabilities in 2006.