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Americans with Disabilities Act: July 26

On this day in 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.

Population Distribution

41.2 million
Number of people who have some level of disability. They represent 15 percent of the civilian noninstitutionalized population 5 and older.

By age —

  • 6 percent of children 5 to 15 have disabilities.
  • 12 percent of people 16 to 64 have disabilities.
  • 41 percent of adults 65 and older have disabilities.
Source: 2007 American Community Survey <>

Percentage of females with a disability, compared with 14 percent of males.
Source: 2007 American Community Survey <>

Using or Needing Assistance

11 million
Number of disabled people 6 and older who need personal assistance with everyday activities. This group amounts to 4 percent of people in this age category. These activities include such tasks as getting around inside the home, taking a bath or shower, preparing meals and performing light housework.

3.3 million
Number of people 15 and older who use a wheelchair. Another 10.2 million use an ambulatory aid such as a cane, crutches or walker.

Specific Disabilities

1.8 million
Number of people 15 and older who report being unable to see printed words at all or were blind.

1 million
Number of people 15 and older who reported deafness or being unable to hear conversations at all.

2.5 million
Number of people 15 and older who have some difficulty having their speech understood by others. Of this number, 431,000 were unable to have their speech understood at all.

16.1 million
Number of 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 7 percent of the population 15 and older. This included 8.4 million with one or more problems that interfere with daily activities, such as frequently being depressed or anxious, trouble getting along with others, trouble concentrating and trouble coping with stress.

On the Job

13.3 million
Number of 16- to 64-year-olds who reported a medical condition that makes it difficult to find a job or remain employed. They comprise 7 percent of the population this age.

Percentage of people 21 to 64 having some type of disability who were employed in the past year. The rate ranged from 75 percent of those with a nonsevere disability to 31 percent with a severe disability. For those without a disability, the employment rate is 84 percent for the same period.

Percent of people 21 to 64 with difficulty hearing that were employed. The corresponding percentage for those with difficulty seeing was 41 percent.

Percentage of people 21 to 64 with a nonsevere disability who work full time. This compares with 63 percent without a disability and 16 percent with a severe disability.

Income and Poverty

Median monthly earnings for people 21 to 64 with a nonsevere disability. This compares with $2,539 for those with no disability and $1,458 for those with a severe disability.

Median monthly earnings for people 21 to 64 with difficulty hearing. The corresponding figure for those with difficulty seeing was $1,932.

The poverty rate for people 25 to 64 with a nonsevere disability. This compares with 27 percent for those with a severe disability and 9 percent of those without a disability.

Serving Our Nation

$28.2 billion
Amount of compensation veterans received for service-connected disabilities in fiscal year 2007.
Source: Statistical Abstract of the United States: 2009, Table 505 <>.


Percent of transit buses that were ADA lift- or ramp-equipped, as of 2006. This represents an increase from 61.7 percent in 1995.
Source: Statistical Abstract of the United States: 2009, Table 1075 <>.

Unless otherwise indicated, all the data are from the Americans with Disabilities: 2005 report at

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