HMD Fact Sheet summarizes findings from the first round of qualified individuals who completed the online Survey on Hidden Mobility Disabilities.
First ever research into lived experience of persons with hidden mobility disabilities (HMD) - i.e., able to walk independently but only for a short distance and able to stand unsupported but only for a brief time.
Persons with a hidden mobility disability (HMD) are independently mobile but can only walk a short distance or stand unsupported for a brief time without serious health consequences.
Over 2 million Americans & Canadians have HMD.
While HMD is more frequent with aging, people of all ages have HMD and the consequences are similar for all ages.
Comfortable distance to walk unaided:
35 feet is walkable for most ["short distance"]
70 feet is walkable for 56%
Walking is more effortful on slopes, unstable or uneven ground (like grass), going up/down stairs.
Comfortable time to stand unaided:
1-2 minutes is possible for most ["brief time"]
5 minutes is possible for 66%
Common health conditions resulting in HMD:
Back, disc, vertebrae problems
Chronic fatigue syndrome
COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease)
Hip or knee injuries
Reactions to a person with HMD walking slowly:
45% Ignored, as though invisible
30% Asked if the person needed help
20% Treated with anger or irritation
Consequences of walking too far:
76% Increased joint pain
52% Walk more slowly until almost not moving
45% Increased difficulty breathing
42% Have trouble walking at all the next day
39% Begin to stagger and lose balance
31% Become immobilized by pain
27% Increased muscle spasms
21% can't use anti-inflammatories to manage pain.
Difficulties in community life:
83% Attending events where everyone stands
78% Having to stand in line for service
76% Shopping at a supermarket or mall
55% Using public transportation
43% Entering buildings with parking 35 ft. away
42% Check-in counter 35+ ft. from entrance
Resist walking further than comfortable
Ask to sit down for service
Ask for wheelchair assistance in airports
Pause frequently to sit and recuperate
Examples of how to improve accessibility:
Assume "short distance" means 35 feet
Ensure horizontal, smooth, stable walkway
Replace waiting lines with numbers
Provide seated options for service
Provide seating while waiting for elevators
Provide seating in building lobbies near doors
Provide seating every 35 ft. in long corridors
Hold seated public consultations
Provide public parking within 35 feet
Place disabled parking within 20 ft. of elevator
This Fact Sheet is based on results from the Survey on Hidden Mobility Disabilities, January-March 2017, which are reliable within ± 4 percent at the 95 percent confidence level.
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