How Many Need Accessibility?

Scope of the Problem

Having seen some of the categories of people in need of accessible games, the next question is “how widespread is the problem?” Are we talking about a large number of people?


  • Fortunately, there are statistics available from a variety of sources on the number of people with disabilities. Based on the US Census Bureau’s data from 1997 for people 15 years old or older, the following results were seen:

Level Of Disability:

Category Number Percentage
No disability 160,124,000 77.0
Severe disability 30,714,000 14.8
Not severe disability 17,221,000 8.2
Total population 208,059,000 100.0
  • 77% of the people considered themselves to not be disabled. Of the remaining amount, this means that almost 48,000,000 people in the United States consider themselves disabled.

UPDATE: The following table shows updated information, reflecting information found in the Source: U.S. Census Bureau, Survey of Income and Program Participation, from 2005.

Disability Status Number Percent
With a disability 49,073 21.3
Severe 32,776 14.2
Not severe 16,297 7.1
No disability 181,317 181,317

Types of Disabilites

  • The following table shows a breakdown of the disability types based off the 1997 census data.
Type Number Percentage
Visual – Severe 1,768,000 0.8
Visual – Not severe 5,904,000 2.8
Auditory – Severe 832,000 0.4
Auditory – Not severe 7,134,000 3.4
Mobility – Severe 14,698,000 7.1
Mobility – Not severe 10,441,000 5.0
Learning disability 3,451,000 1.7
Other mental disability
(dementia, mental retardation, other unspecified)
6,657,000 3.2
Other disabilities
2,270,000 1.1
Total 53,155,000
  • Note that the total is larger than expected since some people fall under multiple categories and will be counted for each on them.

Update: Information from the 2005 Census. (Information was not displayed in similiar groups, so we were not able to reproduce the compelte table from 2007.)

Disability Type Percent
Visual – Total 3.4
Visual – Not Severe 2.6
Visual – Severe 0.8
Auditory – Total 3.4
Auditory – Not Severe 3
Auditory – Severe 0.4
Learning Disability 1.6

Based on the above tables, it’s clear the group with mobility issues is the largest, followed by auditory, visual and learning disabilities. The other point is the size of the group that could have potential accessibility issues with games.

In addition to the data cited above, there are a variety of studies compiled by the United Nations that can be accessed at Based on the data provided, it appears that between 10% and 20% of the people in a country can be considered disabled. Information from the W3C seems to confirm this conclusion. In Sweden for instance, two sources say 20 percent of the working population (16 to 64 years old) have a disability or limiting condition. A third source say 10 percent of the total population are disabled. Sweden has a population of 9 million people.