The relationship between disability and poverty has been clearly established. While the risk of impairment is much greater for the poverty- stricken, the corollary is also true: the birth of an impaired child, or the occurrence of disability in the family, often places heavy demands on the limited resources of the family and strains on its morale, thus thrusting it deeper into poverty. The combined effect of these factors results in higher proportions of disabled persons among the poorest strata of society. For this reason, the number of affected families living at the poverty level steadily increases in absolute terms. The negative impact of these trends seriously hinders the development process. Existing knowledge and skills, if appropriately applied, could prevent the onset of many impairments and disabilities, could assist affected people in overcoming or minimizing their disabilities, and could enable nations to remove barriers which exclude disabled persons from everyday life.