What is a Disability?
A disability is a condition or function judged to be significantly impaired relative to the usual standard of an individual or group. The term is used to refer to individual functioning, including physical impairment, sensory impairment, cognitive impairment, intellectual impairment mental illness, and various types of chronic disease.
Disability is conceptualized as being a multidimensional experience for the person involved. There may be effects on organs or body parts and there may be effects on a person's participation in areas of life. Correspondingly, three dimensions of disability are recognized in ICF: body structure and function (and impairment thereof), activity (and activity restrictions) and participation (and participation restrictions). The classification also recognizes the role of physical and social environmental factors in affecting disability outcomes.
Types of Disabilities
Types of disabilities include various physical and mental impairments that can hamper or reduce a person's ability to carry out his day to day activities. These impairments can be termed as disability of the person to do his or her day to day activities.
These impairments can be termed as disability of the person to do his day to day activities as previously. "Disability" can be broken down into a number of broad sub-categories, which include the following:
D) Mobility and Physical Impairments
This category of disability includes people with varying types of physical disabilities including:
Upper limb(s) disability.
Lower limb(s) disability
Disability in co-ordination with different organs of the body.
Disability in mobility can be either an in-born or acquired with age problem. It could also be the effect of a disease. People who have a broken bone also fall into this category of disability.
B) Spinal Cord Disability:
Spinal cord injury (SCI) can sometimes lead to lifelong disabilities. This kind of injury mostly occurs due to severe accidents. The injury can be either complete or incomplete. In an incomplete injury, the messages conveyed by the spinal cord is not completely lost. Whereas a complete injury results in a total dis-functioning of the sensory organs. In some cases spinal cord disability can be a birth defect.
C) Head Injuries - Brain Disability
A disability in the brain occurs due to a brain injury. The magnitude of the brain injury can range from mild, moderate and severe. There are two types of brain injuries:
Acquired Brain Injury (ABI)
Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)
ABI is not a hereditary type defect but is the degeneration that occurs after birth.
The causes of such cases of injury are many and are mainly because of external forces applied to the body parts. TBI results in emotional dysfunctioning and behavioral disturbance.
D) Vision Disibility
There are hundreds of thousands of people that suffer from minor to various serious vision disability or impairments. These injuries can also result into some serious problems or diseases like blindness and ocular trauma, to name a few. Some of the common vision impairment includes scratched cornea, scratches on the sclera, diabetes related eye conditions, dry eyes and corneal graft.
E) Hearing Disability
Hearing disabilities includes people that are completely or partially deaf, (Deaf is the politically correct term for a person with hearing impairment).
People who are partially deaf can often use hearing aids to assist their hearing. Deafness can be evident at birth or occur later in life from several biologic causes, for example Meningitis can damage the auditory nerve or the cochlea.
Deaf people use sign language as a means of communication. Hundreds of sign languages are in use around the world. In linguistic terms, sign languages are as rich and complex as any oral language, despite the common misconception that they are not "real languages".
F) Cognitive or Learning Disabilites
Cognitive Disabilities are kind of impairment present in people who are suffering from dyslexia and various other learning difficulties and includes speech disorders.
G) Psychological Disorders
Affective Disorders: Disorders of mood or feeling states either short or long term. Mental Health Impairment is the term used to describe people who have experienced psychiatric problems or illness such as:
Personality Disorders - Defined as deeply inadequate patterns of behavior and thought of sufficient severity to cause significant impairment to day-to-day activities.
Schizophrenia: A mental disorder characterized by disturbances of thinking, mood, and behavior.
H) Invisible Disabilities
Invisible Disabilities are disabilities that are not immediately apparent to others. It is estimated that 10% of people in the U.S. have a medical condition considered a type of invisible disability.
The Evolution of a Movement
Historically, disabilities have often been cast in a negative light. An individual thus affected was seen as being a “patient” subject either to cure or to ongoing medical care. His condition is seen as disabling; the social reactions to it are justified, and the barriers unavoidable. This position is known as the medical model of disability. See the list of Definitions of The Models of Disability for further information.
Over the past 20 years, a competing view known as the social model of disability has come to the fore. In this model, disability is seen more as a social construction than a medical reality. An individual may be impaired by a condition that requires daily living adaptations, but the bulk of his problem - his disability - can be found in the attitudinal and physical barriers erected by society.
Both the medical and social models agree, to a point, that facilities and opportunities should be made as accessible as possible to individuals who require adaptations. Dismantling physical barriers, or setting up adaptations such as wheelchair ramps, is known as "fostering accessibility".
The Language and Terminology of Disability
Within the disability sector generally language matters. For a group of people who have been so relentlessly described in disparaging, reductionist and exclusivist terms, language matters profoundly. This is not unique to people with a disability. In civil rights movements around race, gender, nationality and sexuality, language has been a cornerstone of achieving respect and inclusion.
The term disability has replaced the older designations spastic, handicapped, and crippled. While these two designations can be used interchangeably, proponents of the social model of disability have appropriated the latter term to describe those social and economic consequences of the former. An individual with a physical or intellectual disability, then, is said to be "handicapped" by the lowered expectations of society.
A person may also be "impaired" either by a correctable condition such as myopia, or by an uncorrectable one such as cerebral palsy. For those with mild conditions, related impairments disappear with the application of corrective devices. More serious impairments call for adaptive equipment.
In the United Kingdom, people within the disability rights movement commonly use the term "Disabled" to denote someone who is "disabled by society's inability to accommodate all of its inhabitants."
The Person First Movement has added another layer to this discourse by asking that people with disabilities be identified first as individuals. "Person First Language" -- referring, for example, to a “woman who is blind,” rather than to "a blind woman" - is a form of political correctness designed to further the aims of the social model by removing attitudinal barriers.
Some people with disabilities support the Person First Movement, while others do not. People who are Deaf in particular may see themselves as members of a specific community, properly called the Deaf culture, and so will reject efforts designed to distance them from the central fact of their identity.
A human rights based approach has been adopted by many organizations of and for disabled people. In 2000, for example, the United Nations Assembly decided to start working on a comprehensive convention for the rights of disabled people.