Blindness in America

In order to achieve a future of independence and societal inclusion for the blind, it is important to not only acknowledge their impact on our society, but also to determine what tools have proven most successful for some to achieve those goals. The prevalence of vision loss in the United States has been a matter for research and debate for decades.  Here we have provided a small hub of information regarding blindness as well as the impact of Braille on the lives of the blind and visually impaired.

Blindness Statistics

Prevalence:

Number of blind persons in this country1 1.1 million
Number of registered legally blind school age children2 57,983

Number of blind seniors, 65 and over (3.5% of the population 65 and over)3

787,691
Projected number of seniors who will be blind by 2015

1.6 million*

Projected number of seniors who will be blind by 2030 2.4 million*

*Based on using Chiang's percentage of the general population who were blind as of 1990 and using general population estimates from the U.S. Census.

Employment:

Percentage of working age blind who are unemployed4 74%
Percentage of working age blind who are unemployed and are Braille literate5 44%

Cost of blindness:

Estimated annual costs of blindness to the federal government6 $4 billion
Cost of a lifetime of support and unpaid taxes for one blind person7 $916,000

Braille:

Number of blind school age children functioning as visual readers 15,482 (27%)
Number of blind school age children reported as Braille readers 5,615 (10%)
Number of blind school age children reported as auditory readers 3,592 (6%)
Number of blind school age children reported as pre-readers 13,743 (24%)
Number of blind school age children reported as non-readers 19,551 (34%)

(APH, Federal Quarterly Census of January 2005)

 

  1. AFB, Sept./Oct. JBVI & Chiang, et al., 1992, Milbank Quarterly.
  2. APH, Federal Quarterly Census of January 2005.
  3. Chiang, et al. 1992.
  4. AFB, Sept./Oct. JBVI.
  5. HumanWare, Spring 1998, Star Student, Ryles, Ruby. "New Research Study: Early Braille Education Vital in Establishing Lifelong Literacy."
  6. Prevent Blindness America, 1994.
  7. Figured using SSI & SSDI average payments and unpaid tax estimates.