Disability Facts

World Report On Disability

Fact Sheets and Checklists

World Report on Disability

The first ever World Report on Disability, produced jointly by WHO and the World Bank, suggests that more than a billion people in the world today experience disability.  People with disabilities have generally poorer health, lower education achievements, fewer economic opportunities and higher rates of poverty than people without disabilities. This is largely due to the lack of services available to them and the many obstacles they face in their everyday lives. The report provides the best available evidence about what works to overcome barriers to health care, rehabilitation, education, employment, and support services, and to create the environments which will enable people with disabilities to flourish. The report ends with a concrete set of recommended actions for governments and their partners. This pioneering World Report on Disability will make a significant contribution to implementation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.  

Key statistics

  • 15% of the world’s population have a disability – over 1 billion people worldwide
  • 110-190 million people experience a very significant impact from disability
  •  Many social barriers faced by people with disabilities are avoidable
  •  People with disabilities have poorer health, lower education achievements, less economic participation and higher rates of poverty than people without disabilities
  •  Disability is more common among women, older people and low income households
  •  Developing countries have a higher prevalence of disability than developed countries

Main messages

  • Disability prevalence is high and growing
  •  Disability disproportionately affects vulnerable populations
  •  People with disabilities face widespread barriers in accessing services – health, education, employment, transport and information


  • Inadequate policies, standards and lack of service provision
  •  Negative attitudes and poor physical accessibility
  •  Lack of consultation and involvement
  •  Lack of data and evidence

 World Disability Report Recommendations

  1.  Enable access to all mainstream systems and services
  2. Invest in programmes and services for people with disabilities
  3. Adopt a national disability strategy and plan of action
  4. Involve people with disabilities in formulating and implementing policies, laws and services.
  5. Improve human resource capacity
  6. Provide adequate funding and improve affordability
  7. Increase public awareness and understanding about disability
  8. Improve the availability and quality of data on disability
  9. Strengthen and support research on disability


Translating recommendations into action:

Governments can

1.    Review and revise existing legislation and policies for consistency with the Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities; review and revise compliance and enforcement mechanisms.

 2.    Review mainstream and disability-specific policies, systems, and services to identify gaps and barriers and to plan actions to overcome them.

 3.    Develop country specific disability strategies establishing clear lines of responsibility and mechanisms for coordination, monitoring and reporting across sectors.

 4.    Regulate service provision by introducing service standards and by monitoring and enforcing compliance.

 5.    Allocate adequate resources to existing publicly-funded services and appropriately fund implementation of national disability strategy and plan of action.

 6.    Adopt national accessibility standards and ensure compliance in new buildings, in transport, and in information and communication.

 7.    Introduce measures to ensure that people with disabilities are protected from poverty and benefit adequately from mainstream poverty alleviation programmes.

 8.    Include disability in national data collection systems and provide disability-disaggregated data wherever possible.

 9.    Implement communication campaigns to increase public knowledge and understanding of disability.

 10.  Establish channels for people with disabilities and third parties to lodge complaints on human rights issues and laws that are not implemented or enforced.

Development organisations can

1.    Include disability in development programmes, using the twin-track approach (mainstreaming and disability specific).

 2.    Exchange information and coordinate actions – to agree on priorities for initiatives to learn lessons and to reduce duplication of effort.

 3.    Provide technical assistance to countries to build capacity and strengthen existing policies, systems and services – for example, by sharing good practices.

 4.    Contribute to the development of internationally comparable research methodologies for collecting and analysing data relating to people with disabilities.

 5.    Regularly include relevant disability data into statistical publications.

Full Report PDF (3MB or 872kb):


Easy Read PDF (1.87MB)


Accessible PDF (1.61 mb)


Report Fact Sheet (396 kb).


Disability & Health Fact Sheet