Statistics regarding the spread of the disabled in South Africa has unfortunately been poorly recorded and is outdated and inadequate. Figures received from specific disability federations completely contradict those received from Statistics South Africa.
According to the statistics acquired from Statistics SA, the following divisions have been made from a population figure of 40 583 573:
In other words, 4.3% of the South African population disabled.
In the case of the hearing impaired, the actual number is higher than the number reported by Statistics SA namely 1,500,000 compared to 383,408. This is partly due to the fact that parents do not record their children as being deaf and a large number of Deaf people have never filled in a census form.
Regarding the mentally handicapped, it is unclear which people are classified as such. It is likely that epilepsy sufferers are included in this figure. According to SANEL who represents epilepsy sufferers, a large number of epileptics are unemployed even though they don't have a physical disability.
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According to the CASE report conducted on behalf of Department of Health, there are between 2.3 million and 2.5 million people with disabilities in South Africa (5.7% - 6.1% of the total population).
According Central Statistical Service (SA Yearbook, 1998),
at least 4 million South Africans in 1995 were deaf or hard of hearing.
The Casual Day Welfare Organization states that 3.5 million people in South Africa are disabled.
According to the White Paper on Integrated National Disability Strategy (1997), 0.26 per cent of disabled people in SA are formally employed.
Most of the Deaf in South Africa who are employed work as laborers, with an average education of grade 7. Only about 20% of the total Deaf workforce have grade 12. Even those who do have grade 12 are often underpaid.
Children at English speaking deaf schools fare much better than others who do not have English as leading language next to Sign Language. Unfortunately they comprise only 5 per cent of the Deaf population. [Of the total number of disabled people aged 15 years or older, 88 per cent were economically inactive and/or unemployed, but looking for work, compared to 63 per cent of the rest of the population. This proves that disabled people face serious barriers to employment. (CASE report).]
19% of White disabled people are employed in full-time positions compared to Africans (6%), Colored (4%), Indians (9%).
The employment rate for disabled women is 11% compared to 15% for disabled men and 80% of disabled women are economically inactive compared to 74% disabled men. Of the respondents who became disabled before the age of 2, a mere 7% are employed and 87% are economically inactive compared to 17% of those who became disabled after 19 years, 71% are economically inactive. (CASE report)