Mobility and physical disabilities are usually defined by impairments, limitations, or characteristics that limit or prevent independent movement or full use of one or more body parts.

Disabilities in this category may be congenital or the result of injury, aging, disease, or other reasons.

How others define mobility and physical impairments and disabilities

This category is broad and variable, and can be interpreted a number of different ways. How people identify individually is also a matter of personal preference. Here are definitions of these related impairments and disabilities from some other organizations.

The ACCESS Project

Mobility impairment refers to the inability of a person to use one or more of his/her extremities, or a lack of strength to walk, grasp, or lift objects. The use of a wheelchair, crutches, or a walker may be utilized to aid in mobility. Mobility impairment may be caused by a number of factors, such as disease, an accident, or a congenital disorder and may be the result from neuro-muscular and orthopedic impairments.



Mobility impairment is defined as a category of disability that includes people with varying types of physical disabilities. This type of disability includes upper or lower limb loss or disability, manual dexterity and disability in co-ordination with different organs of the body. Disability in mobility can either be a congenital or acquired with age problem. This problem could also be the consequence of disease. People who have a broken skeletal structure also fall into this category of disability. Persons with physical impairment disabilities often use assistive devices or mobility aids such as crutches, canes, wheelchairs and artificial limbs to obtain mobility.

The physical disability the person experiences may be either congenital, or a result of injury, muscular dystrophy, cerebral palsy, amputation, multiple sclerosis, pulmonary disease, heart disease or other reasons. Some persons may experience non-visible disabilities that may include respiratory disorders, epilepsy, or other conditions.


Mobility and physical disability statistics

Statistics and measurements on disability vary according to the definitions and reporting methods used. They also evolve as new data becomes available. In general, the number of people with disabilities is growing due to aging populations and other factors.

Key metrics on mobility and physical disability:

  • 7 million adults (16.3% of the noninstitutionalized adult population) in the United States have difficulties in physical functioning. (Source: CDC)
  • 4 million adults (7.8% of the noninstitutionalized adult population) in the United States are unable or find it very difficult to walk a quarter mile. (Source: CDC)

Accommodations and assistive technology for mobility and physical disabilities

This category is so broad and includes many sub-categories. Like all disability types, mobility and physical disabilities impact different people in different ways. The technology or tools someone uses and the accommodation requests they may have can vary significantly.

Some accommodations for people who have mobility or physical disabilities include:

  • Wheelchair ramps
  • Grab bars
  • Accessible passageways
  • Accessible parking
  • Accessible digital content

Some assistive technology people with mobility or physical disabilities use include:

  • Wheelchairs
  • Crutches, walkers
  • Joysticks
  • Head pointers
  • Trackballs
  • Eye- or head-trackers
  • Augmentative and alternative communication (AAC)


Physical Accessibility Information

Accessibility of Physical Locations

Accessibility in the Workplace

Accessibility in Education

Service Animals