These limitations all relate to health conditions experienced within the environment in which persons live, as well as to other personal factors.
Environmental barriers can be physical barriers, such as stairs; communication barriers, such as websites that can't be read by screen readers; discriminatory policies, such as restrictions on participation in physical activity programs; or societal attitudes, such as presumptions that persons with disabilities cannot be productive employees. Disability-associated health-care expenditures have been estimated at nearly 0 billion in 2006, more than a quarter of all national health expenditures for that year (9).
This is another in a series of occasional MMWR reports titled CDC Grand Rounds.
These reports are based on grand rounds presentations at CDC on high-profile issues in public health science, practice, and policy.
Persons with disabilities are persons with limitations in hearing, vision, mobility, or cognition, or with emotional or behavioral disorders.
What they have in common is that they all experience a significant limitation in function that can make it harder to engage in some activity of daily living without accommodations or supports (3–5).
The health conditions that respondents identify most often as the main causes of their disability are arthritis and back problems, followed by heart problems, respiratory problems, emotional problems, diabetes, hearing problems, limb problems, vision problems, and stroke (Figure 3) (3).
Information about CDC Grand Rounds is available at
"Persons with disabilities" is a vague designation that might not always be understood (1,2).
According to the World Health Organization, disability has three dimensions: 1) impairment in body function or structure, such as loss of a limb or loss of vision; 2) limitation in activity, such as difficulty seeing, hearing, walking, or problem solving; and 3) restriction in participating in normal daily activities, such as preparing a meal or driving a car.
Any of these impairments, limitations, or restrictions is a disability if it is a result of a health condition in interaction with one's environment (6).
Persons experience different types of activity limitations, with the most often occurring limitations involving walking/climbing, problem-solving, hearing, seeing, and dependency on another individual (Figure 2).In addition, 43% of persons reporting disabilities report having more than one limitation.