People with disabilities are not a homogeneous group.
They may have a physical disability, a sensory, intellectual
or mental disability. They may have had a disability from
birth, or acquired this in their childhood, teenage years or
later in life, during further education or while in employ-
ment. Their disability may have little impact on their ability
to work and take part in society, or it may have a major im-
pact, requiring considerable support and assistance.
Throughout the world, people with disabilities are par-
ticipating and contributing in the world of work at all levels.
However, many persons with disabilities who want to work
do not have the opportunity to work due to many barriers.
Unemployment among the world’s 386
million dis-
abled people of working age is far higher than for working-
age individuals.
While it is recognized that economic
growth can lead to increased employment opportunities,
the code outlines best practices which enable employers to
utilize the skills and potential of people with disabilities
within existing national conditions.
It is increasingly apparent that disabled people not
only have a valuable contribution to make to the national
economy but that their employment also reduces the cost of
Based on the World Health Organization’s estimate that 10 per
cent of the world’s population has a disability, or 610 million people, of
whom 386 million are between the ages of 15 and 64 years (United
World Population Prospects, 1998 Revision
, New York, 1999).
Reported unemployment rates vary from 13 per cent in the United
Kingdom, a rate which is twice that of the non-disabled workforce, to
18 per cent in Germany, to an estimated 80 per cent and more in many
developing countries.

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