4446.0 - Disability, Australia, 2009  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 02/05/2011   
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Use of mobility and other disability aids


The use of aids by people with disabilities plays an important role in assisting them maintain as much independence as they can.

The proportion of people with disabilities using aids to assist with their disability dropped from 48% of people in 2003 to 41% in 2009. However, when use of different types of aids is considered, there have been increases in the proportions of people using different types of aids (Graph 36), with the exception of aids used to help manage health conditions.

This suggests that people using aids have become more likely to be using multiple aids than they were in 2003 and may be indicative of people with disabilities increasingly having restrictions and limitations in multiple areas of their lives.

Looking at the use of aids in relation to specific activities, the largest increase in usage has occurred in the area of communication aids. There has been a 2.0 percentage point increase in the proportion of people with disabilities using communication aids between 2003 and 2009. The increase appears to be the result of more people using hearing aids and cochlear implants, with other types of communication aids either dropping in use or being used at the same rate. Mobile or cordless phones are also being used more commonly to assist people with their disability, with the texting capability of phones improving the capability of people with hearing problems to communicate.

Use of aids for self-care has increased slightly between 2003 and 2009, with increases observable in each of the five activities included under self-care (Graph 37).

There has been an increase in the proportion of people with disabilities using aids to assist with their mobility between 2003 (13%) and 2009 (15%) (Graph 38).

The most commonly used mobility aids were walking sticks (6.7%) and walking frames (6.6%), with the estimated number of people using walking frames increasing by over 62,000 people between 2003 and 2009.

Other types of mobility aids were used by considerably fewer people, with specially modified cars and car aids estimated to be used by 15,000 people with disabilities across Australia.

The proportion of people with disabilities who have made modifications to their homes because of their conditions has increased slightly between 2003 and 2009, from 11%-12%. The most common modification made was the addition of handgrab rails, followed by modifications to toilets, bathrooms and/or laundries (Graph 39).