The research commissioned by HMDA is the first of its kind to document the lived experience of persons with hidden mobility disabilities (HMD), or limited mobility. Since many struggling with limited mobility do not identify as having a disability because they can walk short distance, research has found that the best question to measure limited mobility is the following (with options “a” through “d” indicating limited mobility, given the variable nature of the functional limitation):

“How far can you walk comfortably, before you experience pain to have to pause for a rest (keeping in mind that a standard school bus is 10.7 meters long):

  1. 10 meters or less
  2. 15 meters
  3. 20 meters
  4. 30 meters
  5. More than 30 meters”

Driven in part by requirements to monitor the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, a lot of focus has been placed on developing a standard approach to gathering data on disabilities. However, that focus globally has not included the issue of statistics on limited mobility.

From a disabilities researcher when asked about limited mobility: “I never thought about it.”

While questions are asked about walkable distance, the effort of stairs, and time standing, the questions are based on inappropriate assumptions regarding what relevant baseline measures would be. Definitional issues are explored on the Definitions page, and the specific methodological issues are discussed on the Methodology page.

The attached Summary of Major Mobility Research Methodologies (pdf) reviews methodologies currently in use from the perspective of the data needed. It focuses on the methodologies of:

  • The World Health Organization Model Disability Survey
  • The World Health Organization Disability Assessment Schedule 2.0 (WHODAS 2.0)
  • The UN Statistical Commission’s Washington Group on Disability Statistics
  • The U.S. Census Bureau
  • Statistics Canada