Research Reports

HMDA published its first research reports in 2017 based on 890 respondents to its Survey on Hidden Mobility Disabilities, which found the following:

A “short distance” for most people with limited mobility is 10.7 meters (35 feet), with 15 meters being the median distance they could walk without serious health consequences.

A “brief time” to stand unsupported is 1-2 minutes.

Limited mobility is not simply a matter of aging.

Osteoarthritis is the most common health condition underlying limited mobility, but asthma, CODP, and heart disease are also common causes.

A more recent national study of over 2,800 Canadians 15 and older (funded by Accessibility Standards Canada) was completed in June 2023, which  included the Survey supplemented by key informant interviews and focus groups. It found that limited mobility (or the inability to safely walk more than 15 meters or stand unsupported for more than 1-2 minutes) is an overlooked functional limitation or disability, with many still believing that it is simply their own personal problem. This national study found that:

13 percent of Canadians 15 and older struggle with limited mobility, which is significantly more than the less that two percent that use wheeled mobility devices;

Federal accessibility standards have focused exclusively on accessibility for those using wheeled mobility devices;

Societal messaging has reinforced negative attitudes towards those with limited mobility, designating them as not keeping physically fit; and

The key accessibility barriers for those with limited mobility with regards to the design and delivery of federal programs and services are distance to be walked in order to access federal programs and services and time standing unsupported to wait for or receive service.

The study also noted the significant community participation restriction that results from limited mobility, as well as the dependency created by needing others to help meet needs outside the home. In addition to the need for continual self-advocacy and the need to ingratiate oneself with others to ensure goodwill, those with limited mobility may struggle with self-esteem issues due to limitations on social engagement and a lack of serendipitous encounters

Its results are summarized on the Fact Sheet on Limited Mobility: June 2023.