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1 in 5 Have a Disability

By on August 29, 2015

According to a new study published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1 in 5 adults has a disability.

The most common functional disability type was a mobility limitation, like serious difficulty walking or climbing stairs, reported by one in eight adults, followed by disability in thinking and/or memory, independent living, vision, and self-care.

The researchers found that the highest percentages of people with disabilities are generally in Southern states, for example Alabama (31.5%), Mississippi (31.4%), and Tennessee (31.4%). The states in the South tend to have some of the higher rates of chronic diseases, such as heart disease and diabetes, which may also be associated with disability.

“We are all at risk of having a disability at some point in our lifetime,” said CDC Director Tom Frieden, M.D., M.P.H. “Health professionals and health care systems need to meet the needs of this growing population.”

Distiurbingly, those with lower education levels, lower incomes, and those who are unemployed were also more likely to report a disability.

The American with Disabilities Act was passed 25 years ago, creating a baseline to be inclusive, less discriminatory of people with disabilities. Including people with disabilities in everyday activities and encouraging them to have roles similar to their peers who do not have a disability is disability inclusion. This involves more than simply encouraging people; it requires making sure that adequate policies and practices are in effect in a community or organization.


Inclusion should lead to increased participation in socially expected life roles and activities—such as being a student, worker, friend, community member, patient, spouse, partner, or parent.


Content for this article provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.