Disability is broadly defined as the consequence of an impairment that may be physical, cognitive, mental, sensory, emotional, developmental, or some combination of these. A disability may be present from birth, or occur during a person's lifetime. Disabilities is an umbrella term, covering impairments, activity limitations, and participation restrictions. Impairments may include physical, sensory, and cognitive or developmental disabilities. Mental disorders (also known as psychiatric or psychosocial disability) and various types of chronic disease may also qualify as disabilities, (Different countries, regions, and even organisations often define disability in a similar - but slightly different manner). A disability may occur during a person's lifetime or may be present from birth. Disability can be classified into several different types of disabilities.
A model by which illness or disability is the result of a physical condition, is intrinsic to the individual (it is part of that individual's own body), may reduce the individual's quality of life, and causes clear disadvantages to the individual. As a result, curing or managing illness or disability revolves around identifying the illness or disability, understanding it and learning to control and alter its course. For further information see Definitions of The Models of Disability
Different terms have been used for people with disabilities in different times and places. The euphemism treadmill and changing fashions have caused terms to rise or fall in popularity.
At this time, disability or impairment are commonly used, as are more specific terms, such as blind (to describe having no vision at all) or visually impaired (to describe having limited vision).
Handicap has been disparaged as a result of false folk etymology that says it is a reference to begging. It is actually derived from an old game, Hand-i'-cap, in which two players trade possessions and a third, neutral person judges the difference of value between the possessions. The concept of a neutral person evening up the odds was extended to handicap racing in the mid-18th century.
In handicap racing, horses carry different weights based on the umpire's estimation of what would make them run equally. The use of the term to describe a person with a disability, by extension from handicap racing, a person carrying a heavier burden than normal, appeared in the early 20th century. Handicap replaced terms that are now considered insulting, such as crippled.
Many people would rather be referred to as a person with a disability instead of handicapped. "Cerebral Palsy: A Guide for Care " at the University of Delaware offers the following guidelines:
"Impairment is the correct term to use to define a deviation from normal, such as not being able to make a muscle move or not being able to control an unwanted movement. Disability is the term used to define a restriction in the ability to perform a normal activity of daily living which someone of the same age is able to perform. For example, a three-year-old child who is not able to walk has a disability because a normal three-year-old can walk independently. Handicap is the term used to describe a child or adult who, because of the disability, is unable to achieve the normal role in society commensurate with his age and socio-cultural milieu. As an example, a sixteen-year-old who is unable to prepare his own meal or care for his own toileting or hygiene needs is handicapped. On the other hand, a sixteen-year-old who can walk only with the assistance of crutches but who attends a regular school and is fully independent in activities of daily living is disabled but not handicapped. All disabled people are impaired, and all handicapped people are disabled, but a person can be impaired and not necessarily be disabled, and a person can be disabled without being handicapped."
In the UK, but more often in the form "people with impairments" (such as "people with visual impairments"), and "disabled people" is generally preferred to "people with disabilities" - Disability or Disabled - Which Term is Right
Within the disability sector generally language matters. For a group of people who have been so relentlessly described in disparaging, reductionist and exclusive 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.
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".
On December 13, 2006, the United Nations formally agreed on the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, the first human rights treaty of the 21st century, to protect and enhance the rights and opportunities of the world's estimated 650 million disabled people.
As of April 2011, 99 of the 147 signatories had ratified the Convention. Countries that sign the convention are required to adopt national laws, and remove old ones, so that persons with disabilities will,
For further disability facts and statistics click here.
The World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General, Dr Margaret Chan, announced the creation of a new Department for Management of Noncommunicable Diseases, Disability, Violence and Injury Prevention (NVI).
This new Department, which results from the merger of the Department of Violence and Injury Prevention and Disability (VIP) and the Department for Management of Noncommunicable Diseases (MND), is now officially established.
NVI will support regions and countries to strengthen their capacity to address these major health and development challenges in an integrated way in the context of the new realities of the post-2015 era.
:: Pride in Disability and Self-identifying as Disabled Aids Overall Well-being - Study reveals experiencing stigma, severity of disability, and a persons age and income level help determine whether someone considers themselves to be disabled.
:: New Model to Support Workers with Disabilities - New employment model piloted by Aramark people with intellectual and developmental disabilities could have better odds at getting meaningful work and an independent life.
:: Access Board Issues Guidance on the International Symbol of Accessibility - Guidance addresses questions on use of alternative disability accessibility symbols, and explains how use of symbols other than ISA impacts compliance with ADA.