Persons with Disabilities in India: NSS 76th round (July-December 2018)


This report was published on November 23, 2019, by the National Statistical Office (NSO), Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation. It is based on the ‘Survey of Persons with Disabilities in India’ conducted by the NSO as part of the 76th round of the National Sample Survey (NSS) between July and December 2018. This is the fourth edition of the survey, the first of which was conducted in the year 1981.

The report estimates and presents data on the prevalence of disabilities in India, facilities available to persons with disabilities, difficulties faced by them in accessing public infrastructure, caregivers, and more. A ‘person with disability’ is defined as someone with a long-term mental, physical, intellectual, or sensory impairment, who is unable to fully and effectively participate in society when faced with barriers – “communicational, cultural, economic, environmental, institutional, political, social, attitudinal or structural.” The report considers any impairment that has lasted for 12 months or more to be ‘long-term’.

The survey was spread over 8,992 ‘first stage units’ across India. It covered 118,152 households – 81,004 in rural and 37,148 in urban areas. About a sixth of the respondents – 106,894 people – were persons with disabilities. Of these, 74,946 were from rural areas and 31,948 from urban areas. The survey covered all of India except parts of Andaman and Nicobar Islands which were difficult to access.

This 209-page document is divided into three chapters: Introduction (Chapter 1); Concepts and Definitions (Chapter 2); Summary of Findings (Chapter 3).


  1. The survey covered a total of 576,569 people – 402,589 in rural areas and 173,980 in urban areas. The report states that the prevalence of disability in India, or the percentage of persons with disability in its population, was 2.2 per cent in 2018 – 2.3 per cent in rural areas and two per cent in urban areas.

  2. The prevalence of disability was noted to be higher in males than in females. The survey found 1.9 per cent of females and 2.4 per cent of males to be impacted by a long-term disability.

  3. Among persons with disabilities between the ages of 3-35 years, 62.9 per cent were ever enrolled in ordinary schools and 4.1 per cent were in specialised schools or received specialised therapy (such as speech or behavioural therapy) relating to their disability.

  4. Over a fifth of persons with disabilities reported receiving government aid for education or training, corrective surgery or related treatment, employment, disability pension, or other means of help. Roughly 1.8 per cent received aid or help from organisations other than the government and as high as 76.4 per cent did not receive any support.

  5. The labour force participation rate among persons with disabilities over 15 years was found to be 23.8 per cent. The unemployment rate was 4.2 per cent.

  6. About one lakh persons with disabilities were surveyed, and only 28.8 per cent had disability certificates – 24.1 per cent of females and 32.4 per cent of males.

  7. About 3.7 per cent of persons with disabilities reported living alone, among whom 3.2 per cent lived in rural areas and 4.8 per cent in urban areas. About five per cent of women with disabilities in rural areas lived alone, compared to the two per cent of rural men with disabilities.

  8. Roughly 62.1 per cent persons with disabilities reported having a caregiver, 0.3 per cent required a caregiver but did not have one, and 37.7 per cent did not require one.

  9. Around five per cent of the people with disabilities surveyed could not afford to undergo their required treatment. The percentage of disabled persons who could not afford the necessary treatment was higher in the rural areas (5.7 per cent) than urban areas (3.5 per cent).

  10. In the 365 days preceding the survey, 67.1 per cent of persons with disabilities reported facing difficulties in accessing public transport – including buses, trams, trains, metros and ferries. This was due to a range of reasons, such as inadequate public announcement systems, and the absence of ramps, grooved tiles, lifts, specialised toilet seats and signs for directions.

  11. The percentage of those with disabilities who faced difficulties in accessing public buildings – for purposes such as assembly, education, entertainment, workplace, office or worship – was 63.9 per cent, during the 365 days preceding the survey.

  12. As high as 57.2 per cent of persons with disabilities aged 15 years and above who were employed before the onset of their disability, lost work after developing the impairment.

  13. The states recording the highest rate of persons with disabilities are Kerala (3.2 per cent), Odisha (3.2 per cent) and Andhra Pradesh (three per cent). At 0.8 per cent, Manipur records the lowest rate followed by Meghalaya, Nagaland and Daman and Diu at one per cent each.

  14. States where government aid reached the maximum percentage of persons with disabilities were Puducherry (61.2 per cent), Telangana (57.1 per cent) and Dadra and Nagar Haveli (50.9 per cent). On the other hand, states ranked lowest in this list were Arunachal Pradesh (5.9 per cent), Assam (6.4 per cent) and Mizoram (eight per cent).

    Focus and factoids by Gautami Kulkarni.

    PARI Library's health archive project is part of an initiative supported by the Azim Premji University to develop a free-access repository of health-related reports relevant to rural India.


National Statistical Office, Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation, Government of India, New Delhi


National Statistical Office, Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation, Government of India, New Delhi


23 Nov, 2019