Canadian Survey on Disability, 2012
Dexterity disabilities among Canadians aged 15 years and older, 2012

Warning View the most recent version.

Archived Content

Information identified as archived is provided for reference, research or recordkeeping purposes. It is not subject to the Government of Canada Web Standards and has not been altered or updated since it was archived. Please "contact us" to request a format other than those available.

by Christine Bizier, Gail Fawcett and Sabrina Gilbert

Release date: July 5, 2016 Correction date: (if required)
Start of text box

The results presented in this fact sheet are from the 2012 Canadian Survey on Disability (CSD), which surveyed residents of private dwellings who reported an activity limitation and who were aged 15 years and older at the time of the 2011 National Household Survey (NHS).

According to the CSD, respondents are considered to have a disability only if they report a difficulty or impairment due to a long-term condition or health problem and they report that they are limited in their daily activities as a result of their condition. Appendix A describes how the CSD defines dexterity disabilities.

It should be noted that the population living in institutions, including residential care facilities, was not included in the 2012 CSD. Further details are available in the Canadian Survey on Disability, 2012: Concepts and Methods Guide: 89-654-X2014001.

End of text box

According to the 2012 Canadian Survey on Disability (CSD), 3,775,900 (13.7%) Canadians aged 15 years and older reported some type of disability, and 953,100 of these individuals (or 3.5% of all Canadian adults) were identified as having a dexterity disability that limited them in their daily activities (Table 1). The most prevalent underlying dexterity condition reported by those with dexterity disabilities was arthritis.

Table 1
Prevalence of disability by type, among adults aged 15 years and older, Canada, 2012 Table summary
This table displays the results of Prevalence of disability by type. The information is grouped by Disability type (appearing as row headers), Population and Percentage (appearing as column headers).
Disability type Population Percentage
Total disability 3,775,900 13.7
Pain-related 2,664,200 9.7
Flexibility 2,078,000 7.6
Mobility 1,971,800 7.2
Mental health-related 1,059,600 3.9
Dexterity 953,100 3.5
Hearing 874,600 3.2
Seeing 756,300 2.8
Memory 628,200 2.3
Learning 622,300 2.3
Developmental 160,500 0.6
Unknown 79,500 0.3

As with disability in general, the likelihood of having a dexterity disability increased notably with age—ranging from a prevalence rate of 0.6% for adults aged 15 to 24 to a rate of 8.8% for those aged 65 and older (Chart 1). The prevalence of a dexterity disability was somewhat higher for women than men for those aged 25 to 44 (1.5% versus 1.0%, respectively) or 65 and over (10.3% versus 6.8%, respectively).

Chart 1 Prevalence of dexterity disabilities and total disabilities by age group, aged 15 years and older, Canada, 2012

Data table for Chart 1

Table summary
This table displays the results of Data table for Chart 1. The information is grouped by Age group (appearing as row headers), Dexterity disabilities and Total disabilities, calculated using percent units of measure (appearing as column headers).
Age group Dexterity disabilities Total disabilities
percent
15 to 24 years 0.6 4.4
25 to 44 years 1.2 6.5
45 to 64 years 4.6 16.1
65 years and older 8.8 33.2

Multiple disabilities

Dexterity disability frequently co-occurred with other types of disability: 97.2% of adults with dexterity disabilities also reported at least one other type of disability in 2012. Adults aged 25 to 64 and seniors aged 65 and older with dexterity disabilities had high rates of co-occurrence with the other physical types such as flexibility, mobility, and pain. As for the young adults aged 15 to 24 who reported dexterity disabilities and had other disabilities, learning disabilities and flexibility disabilities were the top two most common co-occurring disabilities, followed by pain-related disabilities.

Chart 2 Prevalence of co-occurring disability types among adults with  dexterity disabilities, by age group, aged 15 and older, Canada, 2012

Data table for Chart 2
Data table for Chart 2
Table summary
This table displays the results of Data table for Chart 2. The information is grouped by Co-occurring disability (appearing as row headers), Developmental, Learning, Mental health-
related, Mobility, Seeing/Hearing, Flexibility, Memory and Pain-related, calculated using percent units of measure (appearing as column headers).
Age group Developmental Learning Mental health-
related
Mobility Seeing/Hearing Flexibility Memory Pain-related
percent
15 to 24 years 49.7 66.6 57.2 54.2 33.3Note E: Use with caution 64.8 42.1 58.4
25 to 64 years 6.1Note E: Use with caution 29.6 49.4 74.3 45.3 86.7 31.8 91.1
65 years and older 1.4Note E: Use with caution 17.8 23.8 78.0 48.8 76.7 25.9 80.7

Education

Educational attainment

Working-age adults (aged 15 to 64) with dexterity disabilities had overall lower levels of educational attainment than those who did not have any type of disability. For example, adults aged 15 to 64 who were not in school and who reported a dexterity disability were more likely than those without any type of disability to have not completed high school (22.9% versus 13.1%). This pattern was particularly pronounced among those aged 15 to 24: individuals with a dexterity disability were more than twice as likely to have not completed high school, compared with those without any disability (63.8% versus 25.4%).Note 1

Similarly, adults aged 15 to 64 with a dexterity disability were also less likely (49.3%) than their counterparts without any disability (61.1%) to have completed postsecondary qualifications.Note 2

Chart 3 Proportion of adults with dexterity disabilities compared to those without any disability by highest level of education, aged 15 to 64 years, Canada, 2012

Data table for Chart 3
Data table for Chart 3
Table summary
This table displays the results of Data table for Chart 3. The information is grouped by Level of education (appearing as row headers), With a dexterity disability and Without any disability, calculated using percent units of measure (appearing as column headers).
Level of education With a dexterity disability Without any disability
percent
Less than high school 22.9 13.1
High school 27.8 25.8
Postsecondary 49.3 61.1

Educational experiences

In the 2012 CSD (Canadian Survey on Disability), adults with a disability who were currently or had recently been in school were asked a series of questions about their educational experiences and how their condition or conditions may have affected these experiences.Note 3 Nearly two-thirds of adults with dexterity disabilities reported that their condition(s) had influenced their choice of courses or careers and resulted in them taking fewer courses (Table 2). These experiences are based on the impact of all the disabilities the individuals may have had.

Table 2
Effect of disability on educational experiences of adults with a dexterity disability, aged 15 years and older, Canada, 2012 Table summary
This table displays the results of Effect of disability on educational experiences of adults with a dexterity disability. The information is grouped by Effect of disability (appearing as row headers), Percentage (appearing as column headers).
Effect of disability Percentage
Choice of courses/career influenced by disability 66.1
Took fewer courses due to disability 58.5
Education interrupted due to disability 49.2
Took longer to achieve current level due to disability 47.5
Went back to school for retraining due to disability 45.7
Changed course of studies due to disability 44.9
Discontinued education due to disability 40.4
People avoided/excluded you in school due to disability 38.0Note E: Use with caution
Additional school expenses due to disability 37.8Note E: Use with caution

Employment

Labour force status

Nearly two-thirds (62.4%) of adults aged 15 to 64 with dexterity disabilities were not in the labour force, and another 5.9%E were unemployed.Note 4

The employment rate of working-age adults, aged 15 to 64, with dexterity disabilities was 31.7%, less than half the employment rate of those aged 15 to 64 who did not have any type of disability (73.6%).

In each age group, those without any disability were roughly twice as likely to be employed as those with a dexterity disability. This pattern was more pronounced in the youngest and oldest age groups (Chart 4).

Chart 4 Employment rate of adults with dexterity disabilities  and adults without any disability, by age group, aged 15 to 64 years, Canada, 2012

Data table for Chart 4
Data table for Chart 4
Table summary
This table displays the results of Data table for Chart 4. The information is grouped by Age group (appearing as row headers), 15 to 24 years, 25 to 34 years, 35 to 44 years, 45 to 54 years and 55 to 64 years, calculated using percent units of measure (appearing as column headers).
15 to 24 years 25 to 34 years 35 to 44 years 45 to 54 years 55 to 64 years
percent
With a dexterity disability 19.2Note E: Use with caution 41.6Note E: Use with caution 40.9 34.1 27.1
Without any disability 51.9 81.9 84.0 83.6 64.0

Disability in the workplace

Over a quarter (27.0%E) of employed adults with a dexterity disability indicated that their employer was unaware of their condition(s).

Among those with a dexterity disability who were either in the labour market at the time of the survey or had been within five years prior to the survey, 62.0% reported that they believed their employer considered them disadvantaged and 57.9% reported that they felt disadvantaged in the labour market (Chart 5). With respect to more specific indicators of disadvantage in the labour market, 15.4% believed that they had been refused a job, 13.7% felt they had been refused a promotion, and 11.2% believed that they had been refused a job interview—all due to their disability or disabilities. It is important to remember that this is based on the impact of all disability types these individuals with dexterity disabilities may have had.

Chart 5 Perceived employment discrimination or disadvantage among adults with dexterity disabilities, aged 15 years and older, Canada, 2012

Data table for Chart 5
Data table for Chart 5
Table summary
This table displays the results of Data table for Chart 5. The information is grouped by Perceived discrimination or disadvantage (appearing as row headers), percent (appearing as column headers).
Perceived discrimination or disadvantage percent
Feels employer considers them disadvantaged 62.0
Feels disadvantaged 57.9
Refused a job 15.4
Refused a job promotion 13.7
Refused a job interview 11.2

Job modifications

Overall, 55.5% of adults with a dexterity disability who were or had been recently employedNote 5 stated that they needed at least one type of job accommodation such as modified work hours (39.1%), modified duties (23.3%), special back supports (19.0%), a modified work station (16.0%), and other job accommodations. Of those requiring modifications, 41.2% reported that all of their needs had been met, while 29.8% indicated having had some needs met. Another 29.0% reported having had none of their needs met. Given the high rate of co-occurrence with other types of disabilities, some of these accommodations may have been for disabilities other than dexterity disabilities.

Hours worked

Employed working-age adults, aged 15 to 64, with dexterity disabilities worked an average of 31 hours per week,Note 6 which is less than the average number for those without any reported disability (37 hours).Note 7

Not in the labour force

Among adults with a dexterity disability, aged 15 to 64, who were not in the labour force, the majority (85.8%) reported that their condition(s) prevented them from working. Of these individuals, 13.6%E indicated that some type of accommodation would allow them to work. As well, 22.5% indicated that they would look for work in the next 12 months.Note 8 Respondents who planned to look for work were asked why they intended to do so:

Many of those who were not in the labour force encountered barriers that discouraged them from looking for work. Some of the most commonly reported job search barriers for those with dexterity disabilities were the lack of available local jobs (22.3%), unsuccessful past attempts (22.1%), inadequate training or experience (17.9%), and a fear of losing additional supports (16.6%) (Chart 6).

Chart 6 Prevalence of job search barriers for adults with a dexterity disability, who were not in the labour force, aged 15 to 64 years old, Canada, 2012

Data table for Chart 6
Data table for Chart 6
Table summary
This table displays the results of Data table for Chart 6. The information is grouped by Job search barriers (appearing as row headers), percent (appearing as column headers).
Job search barriers percent
Few jobs available locally 22.3
Past attempts were unsuccessful 22.1
Training/experience not adequate 17.9
Would lose additional supports
(e.g., drug/housing)
16.6

Supports

Nine in ten adults (88.9%) with dexterity disabilities indicated requiring help with some type of everyday activity, and 69.7% of them reported having some level of unmet need for at least one of these support requirements.

While 82.6% of all adults with dexterity disabilities reported receiving help with at least one type of everyday activity, there was unmet need for various specific types of supports, as summarized in Chart 7. For example, 42.7% of all adults with dexterity disabilities had an unmet need for help with heavy household chores, while 9.1% had an unmet need for help with moving around.

Chart 7 Met and unmet needs for help with everyday activities among adults with dexterity disabilities, aged 15 years and older, Canada, 2012

Data table for Chart 7
Data table for Chart 7
Table summary
This table displays the results of Data table for Chart 7. The information is grouped by Help with everyday activities (appearing as row headers), Needed help, not received and Needed help, received, calculated using percent units of measure (appearing as column headers).
Help with everyday activities Needed help, not received Needed help, received
percent
Heavy household chores 42.7 30.9
Housework 36.3 27.6
Getting to appointment and running errands 27.5 30.1
Preparing meals 19.5 28.1
Personal finances 11.5 19.5
Personal care 11.4 16.4
Medical care 9.1 12.5
Moving around 9.1 10.2

Help with everyday activities was most likely to have come from family members, particularly those in the same household. For example, among those receiving assistance with such activities, two-thirds (66.7%) of those with dexterity disabilities received some help from family members living with them and 45.1% received some help from family members who were not living with them. Help with everyday activities came from other sources as well. For example, among those who received some assistance, 30.2% of adults with dexterity disabilities also indicated receiving help from a friend or neighbour, 20.7% paid an individual or organization for help, and 16.0% reported receiving help from an organization free of charge.

Income

Personal income for working-age adults

The median personal income (before taxes) of working-age adults (aged 15 to 64) with a dexterity disability was $15,500—less than half that of those without disabilities ($31,200).Note 9 Males with dexterity disabilities had a statistically significantly higher personal income than their female counterparts ($20,300 versus $13,100).

Those with dexterity disabilities were also more likely to be reliant on government transfersNote 10 as their major source of income compared with those without disabilities; 63.2% of working-age adults with dexterity disabilities relied on government transfers as their major source of income compared with 18.7% of those without disabilities. Women with dexterity disabilities were more likely than their male counterparts to have government transfers as their main source of income (67.6% versus 58.2%). Furthermore, it was found that employed adults aged 15 to 64 with a dexterity disability had a lower median employment income than those without any reported type of disability ($26,800 compared with $34,100).Note 11 As well, among those with dexterity disabilities, men had a significantly higher median employment income than women ($38,600 versus $20,700).

Conclusion

Adults with a dexterity disability face many challenges. Co-occurrence with other disability types was very high. In particular, the majority of individuals with a dexterity disability also had a mobility disability, a flexibility disability, and/or a pain-related disability. However, among the youngest adults, dexterity disabilities were most likely to be combined with learning disabilities. At the same time, educational attainment and employment levels among those with a dexterity disability were lower than for those who did not report any disability. Even when employed, those with a dexterity disability had lower levels of employment income. Consequently, it is not surprising that working-age adults with a dexterity disability were also more likely than those without any disability to rely on government transfers as their major source of income. Nearly 9 in 10 adults with a dexterity disability required some type of help with everyday activities (in particular, the more physically demanding activities such as heavy household chores and housework), and about two-thirds of them had some level of unmet need.

Start of text box

Appendix A

Identification of adults with dexterity disabilities

The 2012 Canadian Survey on Disability (CSD) identifies persons with dexterity disabilities as persons whose daily activities are limited because of difficulties with their ability to use their fingers. The survey used the newly developed Disability Screening Questions (DSQ) to identify disability. The initial step in identifying a dexterity disability was to establish the existence of difficulty with dexterity. This was done using the following question:

DSQ_19
How much difficulty do you have using your fingers to grasp small objects like a pencil or scissors?

  • No difficulty
  • Some (difficulty)
  • A lot (of difficulty)
  • You cannot do at all

Those who reported having at least “some” difficulty with this task received a follow-up question to determine how often this difficulty limited their daily activities:

DSQ_20
How often does this difficulty using your fingers limit your daily activities?

  • Never
  • Rarely
  • Sometimes
  • Often
  • Always

A dexterity disability was identified when respondents reported being limited at least sometimes, regardless of degree of difficulty. If they reported being limited rarely, they were only considered to have a dexterity disability if they also indicated having a lot of difficulty or reported being unable to perform the task.

An estimated 1,228,800 Canadian adults reported having difficulty with the fingering task. Of these, 275,700 (1.0% of the adult population) reported not being limited by their condition. However, 953,100 (3.5%) Canadian adults aged 15 years and older were identified as having a dexterity disability, based on the methodology described above.

End of text box
Report a problem on this page

Is something not working? Is there information outdated? Can't find what you're looking for?

Please contact us and let us know how we can help you.

Privacy notice

Date modified: