More than 54 million disabled in U.S., census says

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - More than 54 million U.S. residents, or about 19 percent of the population, have some sort of disability, the U.S. Census Bureau reported on Thursday.

The numbers, based on 2005 data, are up slightly from the 2002 survey when 51.2 million people or 18 percent reported a disability, the census found.

About 46 percent of adults aged 21 to 64 with a disability were employed, compared with 84 percent of adults without disabilities, the survey found.

It also found that:

– 7.8 percent of people aged 15 and older had difficulty hearing a normal conversation, including 1 million completely deaf people.

– 3.3 million people, or 1 percent of those aged 15 and older, used a wheelchair or a similar device.

– Nearly 7.8 million people aged 15 and older had difficulty seeing words or letters, including 1.8 million who were completely blind.

– More than 16 million people had difficulty with cognitive, mental or emotional functioning.

– People with a severe disability earned $1,458 a month on average compared to $2,539 for those with no disability.

– 4.7 million children aged 6 to 14, or 13 percent, had a disability, mostly a problem doing regular schoolwork.

(Reporting by Maggie Fox; Editing by Xavier Briand)

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