According to many definitions, a disability is an impairment that may be cognitive, developmental, intellectual, mental, physical, sensory, or some combination of these. Other definitions describe disability as the societal disadvantage arising from such impairments. Disability substantially affects a person's life activities and may be present from birth or occur during a person's lifetime.[1]

Disabilities is an umbrella term, covering impairments, activity limitations, and participation restrictions. An impairment is a problem in body function or structure; an activity limitation is a difficulty encountered by an individual in executing a task or action; while a participation restriction is a problem experienced by an individual in involvement in life situations. Disability is thus not just a health problem. It is a complex phenomenon, reflecting the interaction between features of a person’s body and features of the society in which he or she lives.

— World Health Organization, Disabilities[2]

Disability is a contested concept, with different meanings in different communities.[3] It may be used to refer to physical or mental attributes that some institutions, particularly medicine, view as needing to be fixed (the medical model). It may refer to limitations imposed on people by the constraints of an ableist society (the social model). Or the term may serve to refer to the identity of disabled people. Physiological functional capacity (PFC) is a related term that describes an individual's performance level. It gauges one's ability to perform the physical tasks of daily life and the ease with which these tasks are performed. PFC declines with advancing age to result in frailty, cognitive disorders or physical disorders, all of which may lead to labeling individuals as disabled.[1][4]

The discussion over disability's definition arose out of disability activism in the United States and the United Kingdom in the 1970s, which challenged how the medical concept of disability dominated perception and discourse about disabilities. Debates about proper terminology and their implied politics continue in disability communities and the academic field of disability studies. In some countries, the law requires that disabilities are documented by a healthcare provider in order to assess qualifications for disability benefits.

Types of disabilities

For the purposes of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission regulations provide a list of conditions that should easily be concluded to be disabilities: deafness, blindness, an intellectual disability (formerly termed mental retardation), partially or completely missing limbs or mobility impairments requiring the use of a wheelchair, autism, cancer, cerebral palsy, diabetes, epilepsy, Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) infection, multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy, major depressive disorder, bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, and schizophrenia.[5]


Contemporary understandings of disability derive from concepts that arose during the West's scientific Enlightenment; prior to the Enlightenment, physical differences were viewed through a different lens.

During the Middle Ages, madness and other conditions were thought to be caused by demons. They were also thought to be part of the natural order, especially during and in the fallout of the Plague, which wrought impairments throughout the general population.[6] In the early modern period there was a shift to seeking biological causes for physical and mental differences, as well as heightened interest in demarcating categories: for example, Ambroise Pare, in the sixteenth century, wrote of "monsters", "prodigies", and "the maimed".[7] The European Enlightenment's emphases on knowledge derived from reason and on the value of natural science to human progress helped spawn the birth of institutions and associated knowledge systems that observed and categorized human beings; among these, the ones significant to the development of today's concepts of disability were asylums, clinics, and, prisons.[6]

Contemporary concepts of disability are rooted in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century developments. Foremost among these was the development of clinical medical discourse, which made the human body visible as a thing to be manipulated, studied, and transformed. These worked in tandem with scientific discourses that sought to classify and categorize and, in so doing, became methods of normalization.[8]

The concept of the "norm" developed in this time period, and is signaled in the work of the Belgian statistician, sociologist, mathematician, and astronomer Adolphe Quetelet, who wrote in the 1830s of l'homme moyen – the average man. Quetelet postulated that one could take the sum of all people's attributes in a given population (such as their height or weight) and find their average, and that this figure should serve as a norm toward which all should aspire.

This idea of a statistical norm threads through the rapid take up of statistics gathering by Britain, United States, and the Western European states during this time period, and it is tied to the rise of eugenics. Disability, as well as other concepts including: abnormal, non-normal, and normalcy came from this.[9] The circulation of these concepts is evident in the popularity of the freak show, where showmen profited from exhibiting people who deviated from those norms.[10]

With the rise of eugenics in the latter part of the nineteenth century, such deviations were viewed as dangerous to the health of entire populations. With disability viewed as part of a person's biological make-up and thus their genetic inheritance, scientists turned their attention to notions of weeding such "deviations" out of the gene pool. Various metrics for assessing a person's genetic fitness, which were then used to deport, sterilize, or institutionalize those deemed unfit. At the end of the Second World War, with the example of Nazi eugenics, eugenics faded from public discourse, and increasingly disability cohered into a set of attributes that medicine could attend to – whether through augmentation, rehabilitation, or treatment. In both contemporary and modern history, disability was often viewed as a by-product of incest between first-degree relatives or second-degree relatives.[11]

In the early 1970s, disability activists began to challenge how society treated disabled people and the medical approach to disability. Due to this work, physical barriers to access were identified. These conditions functionally disabled them, and what is now known as the social model of disability emerged. Coined by Mike Oliver in 1983, this phrase distinguishes between the medical model of disability – under which an impairment needs to be fixed – and the social model of disability – under which the society that limits a person needs to be fixed.[12]


Museum of disABILITY History Buffalo NY
Museum of disABILITY History, Buffalo, New York.


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.[13] 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.[14]

People-first language

People-first language is one way to talk about disability that some people prefer. Using people-first language is said to put the person before the disability, so those individuals who prefer people-first language, prefer to be called, "a person with a disability". Some people prefer person-first phrasing, while others prefer identity-first phrasing.

For people-first guidelines, check out, "Cerebral Palsy: A Guide for Care" at the University of Delaware:[15]

"The American Psychological Association style guide states that, when identifying a person with a disability, the person's name or pronoun should come first, and descriptions of the disability should be used so that the disability is identified, but is not modifying the person. Acceptable examples included "a woman with Down syndrome" or "a man who has schizophrenia". It also states that a person's adaptive equipment should be described functionally as something that assists a person, not as something that limits a person, for example, "a woman who uses a wheelchair" rather than "a woman in/confined to a wheelchair".

A similar kind of "people-first" terminology is also used in the UK, but more often in the form "people with impairments" (such as "people with visual impairments"). However, in the UK, the term "disabled people" is generally preferred to "people with disabilities". It is argued under the social model that while someone's impairment (for example, having a spinal cord injury) is an individual property, "disability" is something created by external societal factors such as a lack of accessibility.[16] This distinction between the individual property of impairment and the social property of disability is central to the social model. The term "disabled people" as a political construction is also widely used by international organisations of disabled people, such as Disabled Peoples' International (DPI).

The use of “people-first” terminology has given rise to the use of the acronym PWD to refer to person(s) (or people) with disabilities (or disability).[17][18][19] However other individuals and groups prefer identity-first language to emphasize how a disability can impact peoples identities. Which style of language used varies between different countries, groups and individuals.


To a certain degree, physical impairments and changing mental states are almost ubiquitously experienced by people as they age. Aging populations are often stigmatized for having a high prevalence of disability. Kathleen Woodward, writing in Key Words for Disability Studies, explains the phenomenon as follows:

Aging is invoked rhetorically – at times ominously – as a pressing reason why disability should be of crucial interest to all of us (we are all getting older, we will all be disabled eventually), thereby inadvertently reinforcing the damaging and dominant stereotype of aging as solely an experience of decline and deterioration. But little attention has been given to the imbrication of aging and disability.[20]

The workforce

As stated above, studies have illustrated a correlation between disabilities and poverty. Notably, jobs offered to disabled people are scarce. For global demographic data on unemployment rates for the disabled, see Disability and poverty. However, there are current programs in place that aid intellectually disabled (ID) people to acquire skills they need in the workforce.[21] Such programs include sheltered workshops and adult day care programs. Sheltered programs consist of daytime activities such as, gardening, manufacturing, and assembling. These activities facilitate routine-oriented tasks that in turn allow intellectually disabled people to gain experience before entering the workforce. Similarly, adult day care programs also include day time activities. However, these activities are based in an educational environment where intellectually disabled are able to engage in educational, physical, and communication based tasks. This educational based environment helps facilitate communication, memory, and general living skills. In addition, adult day care programs arrange opportunities for their students to engage in community activities. Such opportunities are arranged by scheduling field trips to public places (e.g. Disneyland, Zoo, and Movie Theater). Despite, both programs providing essential skills for intellectually disabled prior to entering the workforce researchers have found that intellectually disabled people prefer to be involved with community-integrated employment.[21] Community-integrated employment are job opportunities offered to intellectually disabled people at minimum wage or a higher rate depending on the position. Community-integrated employment comes in a variety of occupations ranging from customer service, clerical, janitorial, hospitality and manufacturing positions. Within their daily tasks community-integrated employees work alongside employees who do not have disabilities, but who are able to assist them with training. All three options allow intellectually disabled people to develop and exercise social skills that are vital to everyday life. However, it is not guaranteed that community-integrated employees receive the same treatment as employees that do not have ID. According to Lindstrom, Hirano, McCarthy, and Alverson, community-integrated employees are less likely to receive raises. In addition, studies conducted in 2013 illustrated only 26% of employees with ID retained full-time status.[22]

Furthermore, many with disabilities, intellectual and (or) psychical, finding a stable workforce poses many challenges. According to a study conducted by JARID (Journal of Applied Research and Intellectual Disability, indicates that although finding a job may be difficult for an intellectually disabled individual, stabilizing a job is even harder.[23] This is largely due to two main factors: production skills and effective social skills. This idea is supported by Chadsey-Rusch, who claims that securing employment for the intellectually disabled, requires adequate production skills and effective social skills.[23] However, other underlying factors for job loss include, structural factors and the integration between worker and workplace. As stated by Kilsby, limited structural factors can effect a multitude of factors in a job. Factors such as a restricted number of hours an intellectually disabled person is allowed to work. This in return, according to Fabian, Wistow, and Schneider leads to a lack of opportunity to develop relationships with coworkers and a chance to better integrate within the workplace. Nevertheless, those who are unable to stabilize a job often are left discouraged. According to the same study conducted by JARED, many who had participated, found that they had made smaller incomes when compared to their co-workers, had an excess of time throughout their days, because they did not have work. They also had feelings of hopelessness and failure. According to the NOD ( National Organization On Disability), not only do the (ID) face constant discouragement, but many live below the poverty line, because they are unable to find or stabilize employment and (or) because of employee restricting factors placed on ID workers.[22] This then causes the (ID) the incapacity to provide for themselves basic necessities one needs. Items such as, food, medical care, transportation, and housing.


There is a global correlation between disability and poverty, produced by a variety of factors. Disability and poverty may form a vicious circle, in which physical barriers and stigma of disability make it more difficult to get income, which in turn diminishes access to health care and other necessities for a healthy life.[24] The World report on disability indicates that half of all disabled people cannot afford health care, compared to a third of abled people.[25] In countries without public services for adults with disabilities, their families may be impoverished.[26]


There is limited research knowledge, but many anecdotal reports, on what happens when disasters impact disabled people.[27][28] Individuals with disabilities are greatly affected by disasters.[27][29] Those with physical disabilities can be at risk when evacuating if assistance is not available. Individuals with cognitive impairments may struggle with understanding instructions that must be followed in the event a disaster occurs.[29][30][31] All of these factors can increase the degree of variation of risk in disaster situations with disabled individuals.[32]

Research studies have consistently found discrimination against individuals with disabilities during all phases of a disaster cycle.[27] The most common limitation is that people cannot physically access buildings or transportation, as well as access disaster-related services.[27] The exclusion of these individuals is caused in part by the lack of disability-related training provided to emergency planners and disaster relief personnel.[33]


The International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF), produced by the World Health Organization, distinguishes between body functions (physiological or psychological, such as vision) and body structures (anatomical parts, such as the eye and related structures). Impairment in bodily structure or function is defined as involving an anomaly, defect, loss or other significant deviation from certain generally accepted population standards, which may fluctuate over time. Activity is defined as the execution of a task or action. The ICF lists 9 broad domains of functioning which can be affected:

  • Learning and applying knowledge
  • General tasks and demands
  • Communication
  • Basic physical mobility, Domestic life, and Self-care (for example, activities of daily living)
  • Interpersonal interactions and relationships
  • Community, social and civic life, including employment
  • Other major life areas

In concert with disability scholars, the introduction to the ICF states that a variety of conceptual models have been proposed to understand and explain disability and functioning, which it seeks to integrate. These models include the following:

Medical model

The medical model views disability as a problem of the person, directly caused by disease, trauma, or other health conditions which therefore requires sustained medical care in the form of individual treatment by professionals. In the medical model, management of the disability is aimed at a "cure", or the individual's adjustment and behavioral change that would lead to an "almost-cure" or effective cure. In the medical model, medical care is viewed as the main issue, and at the political level, the principal response is that of modifying or reforming healthcare policy.[34][35]

Social model

The social model of disability sees "disability" as a socially created problem and a matter of the full integration of individuals into society. In this model, disability is not an attribute of an individual, but rather a complex collection of conditions, created by the social environment. The management of the problem requires social action and it is the collective responsibility of society to create a society in which limitations for disabled people are minimal. Disability is both cultural and ideological in creation. According to the social model, equal access for someone with an impairment/disability is a human rights concern.[36][35] The social model of disability has come under criticism. While recognizing the importance played by the social model in stressing the responsibility of society, scholars, including Tom Shakespeare, point out the limits of the model, and urge the need for a new model that will overcome the "medical vs. social" dichotomy.[37] The limitations of this model mean that often the vital services and information persons with disabilities face are simply not available, often due to limited economic returns in supporting them.[38]

Some say medical humanities is a fruitful field where the gap between the medical and the social model of disability might be bridged.[39]

Social construction

The social construction of disability is the idea that disability is constructed by social expectations and institutions rather than biological differences. Highlighting the ways society and institutions construct disability is one of the main focuses of this idea.[40] In the same way that race and gender are not biologically fixed, neither is disability.

Around the early 1970s, sociologists, notably Eliot Friedson, began to argue that labeling theory and social deviance could be applied to disability studies. This led to the creation of the social construction of disability theory. The social construction of disability is the idea that disability is constructed as the social response to a deviance from the norm. The medical industry is the creator of the ill and disabled social role. Medical professionals and institutions, who wield expertise over health, have the ability to define health and physical and mental norms. When an individual has a feature that creates an impairment, restriction, or limitation from reaching the social definition of health, the individual is labeled as disabled. Under this idea, disability is not defined by the physical features of the body but by a deviance from the social convention of health.[41]

Social construction of disability would argue that the medical model of disability's view that a disability is an impairment, restriction, or limitation is wrong. Instead what is seen as a disability is just a difference in the individual from what is considered "normal" in society.[42]

Other models

  • The spectrum model refers to the range of audibility, sensibility, and visibility under which people function. The model asserts that disability does not necessarily mean reduced spectrum of operations. Rather, disability is often defined according to thresholds set on a continuum of disability.[43]
  • The moral model refers to the attitude that people are morally responsible for their own disability.[44] For example, disability may be seen as a result of bad actions of parents if congenital, or as a result of practicing witchcraft if not.[45] Echoes of this can be seen in the doctrine of karma in Indian religions. It also includes notions that a disability gives a person "special abilities to perceive, reflect, transcend, be spiritual".[46]
  • The expert/professional model has provided a traditional response to disability issues and can be seen as an offshoot of the medical model. Within its framework, professionals follow a process of identifying the impairment and its limitations (using the medical model), and taking the necessary action to improve the position of the disabled person. This has tended to produce a system in which an authoritarian, over-active service provider prescribes and acts for a passive client.[47]
  • The tragedy/charity model depicts disabled people as victims of circumstance who are deserving of pity. This, along with the medical model, are the models most used by non-disabled people to define and explain disability.[48]
  • The legitimacy model views disability as a value-based determination about which explanations for the atypical are legitimate for membership in the disability category. This viewpoint allows for multiple explanations and models to be considered as purposive and viable.[49]
  • The social adapted model states although a person's disability poses some limitations in an able-bodied society, often the surrounding society and environment are more limiting than the disability itself.[50]
  • The economic model defines disability in terms of reduced ability to work, the related loss of productivity and economic effects on the individual, employer and society in general.[51]
  • The empowering model (also, customer model) allows for the person with a disability and his/her family to decide the course of his/her treatment. This turns the professional into a service provider whose role is to offer guidance and carry out the client's decisions. This model "empowers" the individual to pursue his/her own goals.[50]
  • The market model of disability is minority rights and consumerist model of disability that recognizing disabled people and their stakeholders as representing a large group of consumers, employees and voters. This model looks to personal identity to define disability and empowers people to chart their own destiny in everyday life, with a particular focus on economic empowerment. By this model, based on US Census data, there are 1.2 billion people in the world who consider themselves to have a disability. "This model states that, due to the size of the demographic, companies and governments will serve the desires, pushed by demand as the message becomes prevalent in the cultural mainstream."[35]
  • The consumer model of disability is based upon the “rights-based" model and claims that disabled people should have equal rights and access to products, goods and services offered by businesses. The consumer model extends the rights-based model by proposing that businesses, not only accommodate customers with disabilities under the requirements of legislation, but that businesses actively seek, market to, welcome and fully engage disabled people in all aspects of business service activities. The model suggests that all business operations, for example websites, policies and procedures, mission statements, emergency plans, programs and services, should integrate access and inclusion practices. Furthermore, these access and inclusion practices should be based on established customer service access and inclusion standards that embrace and support the active engagement of people of all abilities in business offerings.[52] In this regard, specialized products and specialized services become important, such as auxiliary means, protheses, special foods, domestic help, and assisted living. [53]
  • Different theories revolve around prejudice, stereotyping, discrimination, and stigma related to disability. One of the more popular ones, as put by Weiner, Perry, and Magnusson 's (1988) work with attribution theory, physical stigmas are perceived as to be un-controllable and elicit pity and desire to help, whereas, mental-behavioral stigmas are considered to be controllable and therefore elicit anger and desire to neglect the individuals with disabilities.[54]
  • The ‘just world hypothesis’ talks about how a person is viewed as deserving the disability. And because it is the fault of that person, an observer does not feel obligated to feel bad for him or to help him.[55]


In contexts where their differences are visible, persons with disabilities often face stigma. People frequently react to disabled presence with fear, pity, patronization, intrusive gazes, revulsion, or disregard. These reactions can, and often do, exclude persons with disabilities from accessing social spaces along with the benefits and resources these spaces provide.[56] Disabled writer/researcher Jenny Morris describes how stigma functions to marginalize persons with disabilities:[57]

“Going out in public so often takes courage. How many of us find that we can't dredge up the strength to do it day after day, week after week, year after year, a lifetime of rejection and revulsion? It is not only physical limitations that restrict us to our homes and those whom we know. It is the knowledge that each entry into the public world will be dominated by stares, by condescension, by pity and by hostility.”

Additionally, facing stigma can cause harm to psycho-emotional well-being of the person being stigmatized. One of the ways in which the psycho-emotional health of persons with disabilities is adversely affected is through the internalization of the oppression they experience, which can lead to feeling that they are weak, crazy, worthless, or any number of other negative attributes that may be associated with their conditions. Internalization of oppression damages the self-esteem of the person affected and shapes their behaviors in ways that are compliant with nondisabled dominance.[56] Ableist ideas are frequently internalized when disabled people are pressured by the people and institutions around them to hide and downplay their disabled difference, or, "pass". According to writer Simi Linton, the act of passing takes a deep emotional toll by causing disabled individuals to experience loss of community, anxiety and self-doubt.[58] The media play a significant role in creating and reinforcing stigma associated with disability. Media portrayals of disability usually cast disabled presence as necessarily marginal within society at large. These portrayals simultaneously reflect and influence the popular perception of disabled difference.


There are distinct tactics that the media frequently employ in representing disabled presence. These common ways of framing disability are heavily criticized for being dehumanizing and failing to place importance on the perspectives of persons with disabilities.

Inspiration porn

Inspiration porn refers to portrayals of persons with disabilities in which they are presented as being inspiring simply because the person has a disability. These portrayals are criticized because they are created with the intent of making non-disabled viewers feel better about themselves in comparison to the individual portrayed. Rather than recognizing the humanity of persons with disabilities, inspiration porn turns them into objects of inspiration for a non-disabled audience.[59]


The supercrip trope refers to instances when media reports on or portray a disabled person who has made a noteworthy achievement; but center on their disability rather than what they actually did. They are portrayed as awe-inspiring for being exceptional compared to others with the same or similar conditions. This trope is widely used in reporting on disabled athletes as well as in portrayals of autistic savants.[60][61]

Many disabled people denounce these representations as reducing people to their condition rather than viewing them as full people. Furthermore, supercrip portrayals are criticized for creating the unrealistic expectation that disability should be accompanied by some type of special talent, genius, or insight.

Disabled villain

Characters in fiction that bear physical or mental markers of difference from perceived societal norms are frequently positioned as villains within a text. Lindsey Row-Heyveld notes, for instance, “that villainous pirates are scraggly, wizened, and inevitably kitted out with a peg leg, eye patch, or hook hand whereas heroic pirates look like Johnny Depp's Jack Sparrow.”[62] Disabled people's visible differences from the abled majority are meant to evoke fear in audiences that can perpetuate the mindset of disabled people being a threat to individual or public interests and well-being.

Self advocacy

Some disabled people have attempted to resist marginalisation through the use of the social model in opposition to the medical model; with the aim of shifting criticism away from their bodies and impairments and towards the social institutions that oppress them relative to their abled peers. Disability activism that demands many grievances be addressed, such as lack of accessibility, poor representation in media, general disrespect, and lack of recognition, originates from a social model framework.

Embracing disability as a positive identity by becoming involved in disabled communities and participating in disabled culture can be an effective way to combat internalised prejudice; and can challenge dominant narratives about disability.[63]


The experiences that disabled people have navigating social institutions vary greatly as a function of what other social categories they may belong to. The categories that intersect with disability to create unique experiences of ableism include, but aren't limited to, race and gender. The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities differentiates two kinds of disability intersection, race disability intersection and gender disability intersection.[64]


Disabled people who are also racial minorities generally have less access to support and are more vulnerable to violent discrimination. For example, in the United States people of color who are mentally ill are more frequently victims of police brutality than their white counterparts. Camille A. Nelson, writing for the Berkeley Journal of Criminal Law, notes that for “people who are negatively racialized, that is people who are perceived as being non-white, and for whom mental illness is either known or assumed, interaction with police is precarious and potentially dangerous.”[65]


The marginalization of disabled people can leave persons with disabilities unable to actualize what society expects of gendered existence. This lack of recognition for their gender identity can leave persons with disabilities with feelings of inadequacy. Thomas J. Gerschick of Illinois State University describes why this denial of gendered identity occurs:[66]

Bodies operate socially as canvases on which gender is displayed and kinesthetically as the mechanisms by which it is physically enacted. Thus, the bodies of disabled people make them vulnerable to being denied recognition as women and men.

To the extent that women and men with disabilities are gendered, the interactions of these two identities lead to different experiences. Disabled women face a sort of “double stigmatization” in which their membership to both of these marginalized categories simultaneously exacerbates the negative stereotypes associated with each as they are ascribed to them. According to The UN Woman Watch, "Persistence of certain cultural, legal and institutional barriers makes women and girls with disabilities the victims of two-fold discrimination: as women and as persons with disabilities."[67] As Rosemarie Garland-Thomson puts it, “Women with disabilities, even more intensely than women in general, have been cast in the collective cultural imagination as inferior, lacking, excessive, incapable, unfit, and useless.”[68]

Assistive technology

Assistive Technology is a generic term for devices and modifications (for a person or within a society) that help overcome or remove a disability. The first recorded example of the use of a prosthesis dates to at least 1800 BC.[69] The wheelchair dates from the 17th century.[70] The curb cut is a related structural innovation. Other examples are standing frames, text telephones, accessible keyboards, large print, Braille, & speech recognition software. Disabled people often develop personal or community adaptations, such as strategies to suppress tics in public (for example in Tourette's syndrome), or sign language in deaf communities.

As the personal computer has become more ubiquitous, various organizations have formed to develop software and hardware to make computers more accessible for disabled people. Some software and hardware, such as Voice Finger, Freedom Scientific's JAWS, the Free and Open Source alternative Orca etc. have been specifically designed for disabled people while other software and hardware, such as Nuance's Dragon NaturallySpeaking, were not developed specifically for disabled people, but can be used to increase accessibility.[71] The LOMAK keyboard was designed in New Zealand specifically for persons with disabilities.[72] The World Wide Web consortium recognised a need for International Standards for Web Accessibility for persons with disabilities and created the Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI).[73] As at Dec 2012 the standard is WCAG 2.0 (WCAG = Web Content Accessibility Guidelines).[74]

Adapted sports

Wheelchair basketball at the 2008 Summer Paralympics
Wheelchair basketball match between South Africa and Iran at the 2008 Summer Paralympics

The Paralympic Games (meaning "alongside the Olympics") are held after the (Summer and Winter) Olympics. The Paralympic Games include athletes with a wide range of physical disabilities. In member countries, organizations exist to organize competition in the Paralympic sports on levels ranging from recreational to elite (for example, Disabled Sports USA and BlazeSports America in the United States).

The Paralympics developed from a rehabilitation programme for British war veterans with spinal injuries. In 1948, Sir Ludwig Guttman, a neurologist working with World War II veterans with spinal injuries at Stoke Mandeville Hospital in Aylesbury in the UK, began using sport as part of the rehabilitation programmes of his patients.

In 2006, the Extremity Games were formed for physically disabled people, specifically limb loss or limb difference, to be able to compete in extreme sports.[75]

Rights and government policies

Rights movement

The disability rights movement aims to secure equal opportunities and equal rights for disabled people. The specific goals and demands of the movement are accessibility and safety in transportation, architecture, and the physical environment; equal opportunities in independent living, employment, education, and housing; and freedom from abuse, neglect, and violations of patients' rights.[76] Effective civil rights legislation is sought to secure these opportunities and rights.[76][77][78]

The early disability rights movement was dominated by the medical model of disability, where emphasis was placed on curing or treating disabled people so that they would adhere to the social norm, but starting in the 1960s, rights groups began shifting to the social model of disability, where disability is interpreted as an issue of discrimination, thereby paving the way for rights groups to achieve equality through legal means.[79]

Policies and actions

Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

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.[80] As of April 2011, 99 of the 147 signatories had ratified the Convention.[81] Countries that sign the convention are required to adopt national laws, and remove old ones, so that persons with disabilities will, for example, have equal rights to education, employment, and cultural life; to the right to own and inherit property; to not be discriminated against in marriage, etc.; and to not be unwilling subjects in medical experiments. UN officials, including the High Commissioner for Human Rights, have characterized the bill as representing a paradigm shift in attitudes toward a more rights-based view of disability in line with the social model.[80]

International Year of Disabled Persons

In 1976, the United Nations began planning for its International Year of Disabled Persons (1981),[82] later renamed the International Year of Disabled Persons. The UN Decade of Disabled Persons (1983–1993) featured a World Programme of Action Concerning Disabled Persons. In 1979, Frank Bowe was the only person with a disability representing any country in the planning of IYDP-1981. Today, many countries have named representatives who are themselves individuals with disabilities. The decade was closed in an address before the General Assembly by Robert Davila. Both Bowe and Davila are deaf. In 1984, UNESCO accepted sign language for use in education of deaf children and youth.

Policies in the United States

In the United States, the Department of Labor's 2014 rules for federal contractors, defined as companies that make more than $50,000/year from the federal government, required them to have as a goal that 7% of their workforce must be disabled people.[83] In schools, the ADA says that all classrooms must be wheelchair accessible.[84] The U.S. Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board, commonly known as the Access Board, created the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 to help offer guidelines for transportation and accessibility for the physically disabled.[85]

About 12.6% of the U.S. population are individuals who suffer from a mental or physical disability. Many are unemployed because of prejudiced assumptions that a person with disabilities is unable to complete tasks that are commonly required in the workforce. This became a major Human rights issue because of the discrimination that this group faced when trying to apply for jobs in the U.S. Many advocacy groups protested against such discrimination, asking the federal government to implement laws and policies that would help individuals with disabilities.

The Rehabilitation Act of 1973 was enacted with the purpose of protecting individuals with disabilities from prejudicial treatment by government funded programs, employers, and agencies. The Rehabilitation Act of 1973 has not only helped protect U.S. citizens from being discriminated against but it has also created confidence amongst individuals to feel more comfortable with their disability. There are many sections within The Rehabilitation Act of 1973, that contains detailed information about what is covered in this policy.

Section 501
An employer must hire an individual who meets the qualifications of a job description despite any preexisting disabilities.
Section 503
Requires contractors or subcontractors, who receive more than $10,000 from the government to hire people with disabilities and to accommodate them with the needs that they need to achieve in the work force.
Section 504
States that receive federal money may not discriminate against any person with disabilities who qualifies for a program or job.

On June 22, 1999 the United States Supreme Court issued a ruling in Olmstead vs. L. C. that said unjustified segregation of persons with disabilities constitutes discrimination in violation of title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act. This has been interpreted as meaning people with disabilities must be given all opportunity by government to stay in their own homes as opposed to assisted living, nursing homes or worse, institutions for the disabled. It's been interpreted as meaning government must make all reasonable efforts to allow people with disabilities to be included in their respective communities and enjoy family and friends, work if possible, get married, own homes and interact with nondisabled people. This is why the United States has so many community based services today for the disabled including but not limited to home health aides, personal care attendants and other programs to keep people with disabilities in their own homes and communities.

The federal government enacted The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, which was created to allow equal opportunity for jobs, access to private and government funded facilities, and transportation for disabled people. This act was created with the purpose to ensure that employers would not discriminate against any individual despite their disability. In 1990, data was gathered to show the percentage of disabled people who worked in the U.S. Out of the 13% who filled out the survey, only 53% percent of individuals with disabilities worked while 90% of this group population did not, the government wanted to change this, they wanted Americans with disabilities to have the same opportunities as those who did not have a disability. The ADA not only required corporations to hire disabled people but that they also accommodate them and their needs.

Title I
An employer must give a qualified individual with disabilities the same opportunities as any other employee despite their disability. The employer must offer equal work privileges to someone who has a disability including but not limited to pay, work hours, training, etc. The employer must also create accommodations suitable for the person and their physical or mental disabilities.
Title II
State and Local Government Activities
Requires that the government give disabled people the same opportunities involving work, programs, building access, and services. Title II also requires that buildings create easy access for disabled people and provide communicators who will be able to help those with hearing or speaking impairments. Public spaces are however not required to create accommodations that would in turn alter their services as long as the services proved that they did all they could to prevent discrimination against disabled people.f
Title II
Public transportation should be customized so that disabled people may have easy access to public transit. Paratransit is a service that provides transportation to people who are unable to get from one destination to another due to their mental or physical disability.
Title II
Public Accommodations
Public accommodations require that private businesses create accommodations that will allow disabled people easy access to buildings. Private businesses may not discriminate against disabled people and must provide accommodations that are reasonable, alterations may be made so that a person with disabilities can have equal access to facilities that are provided, communicators for the hearing impaired, devices for the visually impaired, and wheelchair access. Facilities must regulate with the ADA, when regulating the buildings infrastructure so it meets the ADA regulations.
Title IV
Telecommunication Relay Services
Requires telephone companies to have TRS seven days a week, twenty four hours a day. It requires telephone companies to create accommodations for deaf/hard of hearing people by providing a third party that will be able to assistant both parties in communicating with one another.

Policies in the United Kingdom

In the UK, the Department for Work and Pension is a government department responsible for promoting disability awareness and among its aims is to increase the understanding of disability and removal of barriers for disabled people in the workplace. According to a news report, a people survey conducted in the UK shows a 23% increase in reported discrimination and harassment in the workplace at The Department for Work and Pension. The survey shows the number of reports for discrimination due to disability was in majority compared to discrimination due to gender, ethnicity or age. DWP received criticism for the survey results. As a department responsible for tackling discrimination at work, the DWP results may indicate room for improvement from within. A DWP spokesperson said the survey results do not necessarily indicate an increase in the number of reports, but rather reflecting the outcomes of efforts to encourage people to come forward.[86]

Policies in Sweden

Political issues

A 28-year-old Iraqi woman who lost both of her legs during the Iraq War in 2005

Political rights, social inclusion and citizenship have come to the fore in developed and some developing countries. The debate has moved beyond a concern about the perceived cost of maintaining dependent disabled people to finding effective ways to ensure that disabled people can participate in and contribute to society in all spheres of life.

In developing nations, where the vast bulk of the estimated 650 million disabled people reside, a great deal of work is needed to address concerns ranging from accessibility and education to self-empowerment, self-supporting employment, and beyond.[87]

In the past few years, disability rights activists have focused on obtaining full citizenship for the disabled.

There are obstacles in some countries in getting full employment; public perception of disabled people may vary.


Disability abuse happens when a person is abused physically, financially, verbally or mentally due to the person having a disability. As many disabilities are not visible (for example, asthma, learning disabilities) some abusers cannot rationalize the non-physical disability with a need for understanding, support, and so on.[88]

As the prevalence of disability and the cost of supporting disability increases with medical advancement and longevity in general, this aspect of society becomes of greater political importance. How political parties treat their disabled constituents may become a measure of a political party's understanding of disability, particularly in the social model of disability.[89]


Disability benefit, or disability pension, is a major kind of disability insurance that is provided by government agencies to people who are temporarily or permanently unable to work due to a disability. In the U.S., disability benefit is provided in the category of Supplemental Security Income. In Canada, it is within the Canada Pension Plan. In other countries, disability benefit may be provided under social security systems.

Costs of disability pensions are steadily growing in Western countries, mainly in Europe and the United States. It was reported that, in the UK, expenditure on disability pensions accounted for 0.9% of gross domestic product (GDP) in 1980; two decades later it had reached 2.6% of GDP.[88][90] Several studies have reported a link between increased absence from work due to sickness and elevated risk of future disability pension.[91]

A study by researchers in Denmark suggests that information on self-reported days of absence due to sickness can be used to effectively identify future potential groups for disability pension.[90] These studies may provide useful information for policy makers, case managing authorities, employers, and physicians.

In Switzerland, social policies in the field of disability have been significantly reshaped over the last two decades by reducing the number of allowances awarded and by increasing the recourse to vocational rehabilitation measures. Drawing on interviews conducted with individuals who have been involved in programmes set up by Swiss disability insurance, a study highlights their uncertainties and concerns relating to their place in society, as well as their reactions to disability insurance’s interventions.[92]

Private, for-profit disability insurance plays a role in providing incomes to disabled people, but the nationalized programs are the safety net that catch most claimants.


Estimates of worldwide and country-wide numbers of individuals with disabilities are problematic. The varying approaches taken to defining disability notwithstanding, demographers agree that the world population of individuals with disabilities is very large. For example, in 2012, the World Health Organization estimated a world population of 6.5 billion people. Of those, nearly 650 million people, or 10%, were estimated to be moderately or severely disabled.[93] In 2018 the International Labour Organization estimated that about a billion people, one seventh of the world population, had disabilities, 80% of them in developing countries, and 80% of working age. Excluding disabled people from the workforce was reckoned to cost up to 7% of gross domestic product.[94]


After years of war in Afghanistan, there are more than 1 million disabled people.[95] Afghanistan has one of the highest incidences of disabled people in the world.[96] An estimated 80,000 Afghans are missing limbs, usually from landmine explosions.[97]


More than 4 million people in Australia have some form of disability as of 2018. Approximately 18.6% of females and 18.0% of males are said to be affected. 50.7% of Australians aged 65 and over have disability, as opposed to 12.5% aged under 65.[98]

United States

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, as of 2010, there were some 56.7 million disabled people, or 19% (by comparison, African Americans are the largest racial minority in the U.S., but only constitute 12.6% of the U.S. population).[99]

Disabled individuals make up one of the most inclusive minority groups in the United States.[100] According to the 2014 Disability status report of the Cornell University Yang Tan Institute the prevalence rate of individuals with disabilities in the United States was 12.6% in that year. As of 2014 ambulatory disability had the highest prevalence (7.1%) in the United States. By contrast, visual disability had the lowest prevalence (2.3%). Additionally, 3.6% of people in the United States were reported to have had an auditory disability in the same year.[101]

5.8% of individuals ages 16–20 reported having any disability, physical and/ or cognitive. Adults 21 to 64 had a prevalence of 10.8% with over half of these (5.5%) being ambulatory disabilities. Ambulatory disability prevalence raised to 15.8% in adults 65–74 years of age. Adults 75 years and older comprised the highest prevalence with any disability at 50.3%.

Female individuals across all ages reported a total 0.4% higher prevalence rate than males who reported 12.4%.

In the U.S. 17.9% of Native American peoples reported having a disability while 4.5% reporting were of Asian descent, these were the two opposing poles of the prevalence rate within race as of 2014.[101]

Although there are acts that have been imposed in order to prevent the discrimination of individuals with disabilities in the workplace, there is still an employment gap that can be seen between those with and without disabilities. In regards to employment, the institute's status report accounts that 34.6% of people with any disability reported being employed. By comparison; 77.6% of individuals, who did not report having a disability, reported having a full-time job in 2014.[101]

For those employed full-time, individuals with disabilities on average earned $5,100 less than employees without a disability who were also employed full-time. Those affected the most by these differences were intellectually disabled people.[101] As of 2008, there were 2.9 million disabled veterans in the United States, an increase of 25 percent over 2001.[102]


Nearly 8 million European men were permanently disabled in World War I.[103] About 150,000 Vietnam veterans came home wounded, and at least 21,000 were permanently disabled.[104]

Developing nations

There is widespread agreement among experts in the field, that disability is more common in developing than in developed nations. The connection between disability and poverty is thought to be part of a "vicious cycle" in which these constructs are mutually reinforcing.[105]

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Further reading

  • Albrecht, Gary L., ed. (2005). Encyclopedia of disability. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications. ISBN 978-0-7619-2565-1.
  • Arditi, A.; Rosenthal, B. (1998). Developing an objective definition of visual impairment. Vision '96: Proceedings of the International Low Vision Conference. Madrid. pp. 331–34.
  • Bowe, Frank (1978). Handicapping America: Barriers to disabled people. New York: Harper & Row. ISBN 978-0-06-010422-1.
  • Charlton, James I. (2004). Nothing about us without us : disability oppression and empowerment ([3. Dr] ed.). Berkeley: Univ. of California Press. ISBN 978-0-520-22481-0.
  • Burch, Susan (July 2009). "(Extraordinary) Bodies of Knowledge: Recent Scholarship in American Disability History". OAH Magazine of History. 23 (3): 29–34. doi:10.1093/maghis/23.3.29. ISSN 0882-228X.
  • Burkhauser, Richard V.; Schmeiser, Maximilian D.; Weathers II, Robert R. (January 2012). "The Importance of Anti-Discrimination and Workers' Compensation Laws on the Provision of Workplace Accommodations Following the Onset of a Disability". Industrial & Labor Relations Review. 65 (1).
  • Darling, Peter (August 2007). "Disabilities and the Workplace". Business NH Magazine. 24 (8).
  • Glenn, Eddie (1995). African American Women with Disabilities: An Overview.
  • Miles, Albert S (1994). "Brown v. Board of Education and the American with Disabilities Act: Vistas of equal educational opportunities for African Americans". Journal of Negro Education. 63 (3).
  • Johnstone, David (2001). An Introduction to Disability Studies (2nd ed.). Fulton. ISBN 978-1-85346-726-4.
  • Masala, Carmelo; Petretto, Donatella Rita (2008). Psicologia dell'Handicap e della Riabilitazione [The Psychology of Handicap and Rehabilitation] (in Italian). Rome: Kappa. ISBN 978-88-15-06226-0.
  • Oliver, Michael (1997). The Politics of Disablement. London: St. Martin's Press. ISBN 978-0-333-43293-8.
  • Pearson, Charlotte (2006). Direct Payments and Personalisation of Care. Edinburgh: Dunedin Academic Press. ISBN 978-1-903765-62-3.
  • Shakespeare, Tom; with Anne Kerr (1999). Genetic Politics: from Eugenics to Genome. Cheltenham: New Clarion Press. ISBN 978-1-873797-25-9.
  • Kaushik, R. (1999). "Access Denied: Can we overcome disabling attitudes". Museum International. 51 (3): 48–52. doi:10.1111/1468-0033.00217. ISSN 1468-0033.
  • Lansing, Michael J. (January 2009). "'Salvaging the Man Power of America': Conservation, Manhood, and Disabled Veterans during World War I". Environmental History. 14: 32–57. doi:10.1093/envhis/14.1.32. ISSN 1084-5453.
  • Longmore, Paul (July 2009). "Making Disability an Essential Part of American History". OAH Magazine of History. 23 (3): 11–15. doi:10.1093/maghis/23.3.11. ISSN 0882-228X.
  • Masala C. Petretto (2008). "From disablement to enablement: conceptual models of disability in the 20th century". Disability and Rehabilitation. 30 (17): 1233–44. doi:10.1080/09638280701602418. ISSN 0963-8288. PMID 18821191.CS1 maint: Uses authors parameter (link)
  • Rose, Sarah F. (2017). No Right to Be Idle: The Invention of Disability, 1840s–1930s. University of North Carolina Press. pp. xvi, 382. ISBN 978-1-4696-2489-1.

External links


Ableism (; also known as ablism, disablism (Brit. English), anapirophobia, anapirism, and disability discrimination) is discrimination and social prejudice against people with disabilities or who are perceived to have disabilities. Ableism characterizes persons as defined by their disabilities and as inferior to the non-disabled. On this basis, people are assigned or denied certain perceived abilities, skills, or character orientations.

There are stereotypes associated with various disabilities. These stereotypes in turn serve as a justification for ableist practices and reinforce discriminatory attitudes and behaviors toward people who are disabled. Labeling affects people when it limits their options for action or changes their identity.In ableist societies, people with disabilities are viewed as less valuable, or even less than human. The eugenics movement of the early 20th century would be considered an example of widespread ableism. The mass murder of disabled in Nazi Germany's Aktion T4 would be an extreme example of ableism.


Accessibility is the design of products, devices, services, or environments for people with disabilities. The concept of accessible design and practice of accessible development ensures both "direct access" (i.e. unassisted) and "indirect access" meaning compatibility with a person's assistive technology (for example, computer screen readers).

Accessibility can be viewed as the "ability to access" and benefit from some system or entity. The concept focuses on enabling access for people with disabilities, or special needs, or enabling access through the use of assistive technology; however, research and development in accessibility brings benefits to everyone.Accessibility is not to be confused with usability, which is the extent to which a product (such as a device, service, or environment) can be used by specified users to achieve specified goals with effectiveness, efficiency and satisfaction in a specified context of use.

Accessibility is strongly related to universal design which is the process of creating products that are usable by people with the widest possible range of abilities, operating within the widest possible range of situations. This is about making things accessible to all people (whether they have a disability or not).

Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990

The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (42 U.S.C. § 12101) is a civil rights law that prohibits discrimination based on disability. It affords similar protections against discrimination to Americans with disabilities as the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which made discrimination based on race, religion, sex, national origin, and other characteristics illegal. In addition, unlike the Civil Rights Act, the ADA also requires covered employers to provide reasonable accommodations to employees with disabilities, and imposes accessibility requirements on public accommodations.In 1986, the National Council on Disability had recommended enactment of an Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and drafted the first version of the bill which was introduced in the House and Senate in 1988. The final version of the bill was signed into law on July 26, 1990, by President George H. W. Bush. It was later amended in 2008 and signed by President George W. Bush with changes effective as of January 1, 2009.

Developmental disability

Developmental disability is a diverse group of chronic conditions that are due to mental or physical impairments that arise before adulthood. Developmental disabilities cause individuals living with them many difficulties in certain areas of life, especially in "language, mobility, learning, self-help, and independent living". Developmental disabilities can be detected early on and persist throughout an individual's lifespan. Developmental disability that affects all areas of a child's development is sometimes referred to as global developmental delay.

Most common developmental disabilities:

Down syndrome is a condition in which people are born with an extra copy of chromosome 21. Normally, a person is born with two copies of chromosome 21. However, if they are born with Down syndrome, they have an extra copy of this chromosome. This extra copy affects the development of the body and brain, causing physical and mental challenges for the individual.

Fragile X syndrome (FXS) is thought to cause autism and intellectual disability, usually among boys.

Pervasive developmental disorders (PDD) are a group of developmental disabilities that can cause significant social, communication and behavioral challenges.

Fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD) are a group of conditions that can occur in a person whose mother drank alcohol during pregnancy.

Cerebral palsy (CP) is a group of disorders that affect a person’s ability to move and maintain balance and posture. CP is the most common motor disability in childhood.

Intellectual disability, also (sometimes proscriptively) known as mental retardation, is defined as an IQ below 70 along with limitations in adaptive functioning and onset before the age of 18 years.

Disability-adjusted life year

The disability-adjusted life year (DALY) is a measure of overall disease burden, expressed as the number of years lost due to ill-health, disability or early death. It was developed in the 1990s as a way of comparing the overall health and life expectancy of different countries.

The DALY is becoming increasingly common in the field of public health and health impact assessment (HIA). It "extends the concept of potential years of life lost due to premature death... to include equivalent years of 'healthy' life lost by virtue of being in states of poor health or disability." In so doing, mortality and morbidity are combined into a single, common metric.

Disability insurance

Disability Insurance, often called DI or disability income insurance, or income protection, is a form of insurance that insures the beneficiary's earned income against the risk that a disability creates a barrier for a worker to complete the core functions of their work. For example, the worker may suffer from an inability to maintain composure in the case of psychological disorders or an injury, illness or condition that causes physical impairment or incapacity to work. It encompasses paid sick leave, short-term disability benefits (STD), and long-term disability benefits (LTD). Statistics show that in the US a disabling accident occurs, on average, once every second. In fact, nearly 18.5% of Americans are currently living with a disability, and 1 out of every 4 persons in the US workforce will suffer a disabling injury before retirement.

Disability rights movement

The disability rights movement is a global social movement to secure equal opportunities and equal rights for all people with disabilities.

It is made up of organizations of disability activists around the world working together with similar goals and demands, such as: accessibility and safety in architecture, transportation, and the physical environment; equal opportunities in independent living, employment equity, education, and housing; and freedom from discrimination, abuse, neglect, and from other rights violations. Disability activists are working to break institutional, physical, and societal barriers that prevent people with disabilities from living their lives like other citizens.

Disability sport classification

Disability sports classification is a system that allows for fair competition between people with different types of disabilities. Historically, the process has been by two groups: specific disability type sport organizations that cover multiple sports, and specific sport organizations that cover multiple disability types including amputations, cerebral palsy, deafness, intellectual impairments, les autres and short stature, vision impairments, spinal cord injuries, and other disabilities not covered by these groups. Within specific disability types, some of the major organizations have been CPISRA has for cerebral palsy and head injuries, ISMWSF for spinal cord injuries, ISOD for orthopaedic conditions and amputees, INAS for people with intellectual disabilities, and IBSA for blind and vision impaired athletes.

Amputee sports classification is a disability specific sport classification used for disability sports to facilitate fair competition among people with different types of amputations. This classification was set up by International Sports Organization for the Disabled (ISOD), and is currently managed by IWAS who ISOD merged with in 2005. Several sports have sport specific governing bodies managing classification for amputee sportspeople. The classes for ISOD's amputee sports classification system are A1, A2, A3, A4, A5, A6, A7, A8 and A9. The first four are for people with lower limb amputations. A5 through A8 are for people with upper limb amputations.

Cerebral palsy sport classification is a classification system used by sports that include people with cerebral palsy (CP) with different degrees of severity to compete fairly against each other and against others with different types of disabilities. In general, Cerebral Palsy-International Sports and Recreation Association (CP-ISRA) serves as the body in charge of classification for cerebral palsy sport, though some sports have their own classification systems which apply to CP sportspeople. The classification system developed by the CP-ISRA includes eight classes: CP1, CP2, CP3, CP4, CP5, CP6, CP7 and CP8. These classes can be generally grouped into upper wheelchair, wheelchair and ambulatory classes. CP1 is the class for upper wheelchair, while CP2, CP3 and CP4 are general wheelchair classes. CP5, CP6, CP7 and CP8 are ambulatory classes.

The Les Autres class of disabilities generally covers two classes. These are people with short stature and people with impaired passive range of movement. The latter is sometimes referred to as PROM. There are a number of sports open to people who fit into Les Autres classes, though their eligibility often depends on if they have short stature or PROM. Historically, disability sports classification has not been open specifically to people with transplants, diabetics and epileptics. This is because disabilities need to be permanent in nature.

Classification for disability sports generally has three or four steps. The first step is generally a medical assessment. The second is generally a functional assessment. This may involve two parts: first observing a sportspeople in training and then involving observing sportspeople in competition. There are a number of people involved in this process beyond the sportsperson including individual classifiers, medical classifiers, technical classifiers, a chief classifer, a head of classification, a classification panel and a classification committee.

Disabled sports

Disabled sports, also adaptive sports or parasports, are sports played by people with a disability, including physical and intellectual disabilities. As many disabled sports are based on existing able bodied sports, modified to meet the needs of persons with a disability, they are sometimes referred to as adapted sports. However, not all disabled sports are adapted; several sports that have been specifically created for persons with a disability have no equivalent in non-disabled sports. Disability exists in four categories: physical, mental, permanent and temporary.

Down syndrome

Down syndrome (DS or DNS), also known as trisomy 21, is a genetic disorder caused by the presence of all or part of a third copy of chromosome 21. It is typically associated with physical growth delays, mild to moderate intellectual disability, and characteristic facial features. The average IQ of a young adult with Down syndrome is 50, equivalent to the mental ability of an 8- or 9-year-old child, but this can vary widely.The parents of the affected individual are typically genetically normal. The probability increases from less than 0.1% in 20-year-old mothers to 3% in those of age 45. The extra chromosome is believed to occur by chance, with no known behavioral activity or environmental factor that changes the probability. Down syndrome can be identified during pregnancy by prenatal screening followed by diagnostic testing or after birth by direct observation and genetic testing. Since the introduction of screening, pregnancies with the diagnosis are often terminated. Regular screening for health problems common in Down syndrome is recommended throughout the person's life.There is no cure for Down syndrome. Education and proper care have been shown to improve quality of life. Some children with Down syndrome are educated in typical school classes, while others require more specialized education. Some individuals with Down syndrome graduate from high school, and a few attend post-secondary education. In adulthood, about 20% in the United States do paid work in some capacity, with many requiring a sheltered work environment. Support in financial and legal matters is often needed. Life expectancy is around 50 to 60 years in the developed world with proper health care.Down syndrome is one of the most common chromosome abnormalities in humans. It occurs in about one per 1,000 babies born each year. In 2015, Down syndrome was present in 5.4 million individuals globally and resulted in 27,000 deaths, down from 43,000 deaths in 1990. It is named after John Langdon Down, a British doctor who fully described the syndrome in 1866. Some aspects of the condition were described earlier by Jean-Étienne Dominique Esquirol in 1838 and Édouard Séguin in 1844. In 1959, the genetic cause of Down syndrome, an extra copy of chromosome 21, was discovered.

Intellectual disability

Intellectual disability (ID), also known as general learning disability and mental retardation (MR), is a generalized neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by significantly impaired intellectual and adaptive functioning. It is defined by an IQ under 70 in addition to deficits in two or more adaptive behaviors that affect everyday, general living.

Once focused almost entirely on cognition, the definition now includes both a component relating to mental functioning and one relating to individuals' functional skills in their environments. As a result of this focus on the person's abilities in practice, a person with an unusually low IQ may not be considered to have intellectual disability.

Intellectual disability is subdivided into syndromic intellectual disability, in which intellectual deficits associated with other medical and behavioral signs and symptoms are present, and non-syndromic intellectual disability, in which intellectual deficits appear without other abnormalities. Down syndrome and fragile X syndrome are examples of syndromic intellectual disabilities.

Intellectual disability affects about 2–3% of the general population. Seventy-five to ninety percent of the affected people have mild intellectual disability. Non-syndromic or idiopathic cases account for 30–50% of cases. About a quarter of cases are caused by a genetic disorder, and about 5% of cases are inherited from a person's parents. Cases of unknown cause affect about 95 million people as of 2013.

Learning disability

Learning disability, learning disorder or learning difficulty (British English) is a condition in the brain that causes difficulties comprehending or processing information and can be caused by several different factors. Given the "difficulty learning in a typical manner", this does not exclude the ability to learn in a different manner. Therefore, some people can be more accurately described as having a "learning difference", thus avoiding any misconception of being disabled with a lack of ability to learn and possible negative stereotyping. In the United Kingdom, the term "learning disability" generally refers to an intellectual disability, while difficulties such as dyslexia and dyspraxia are usually referred to as "learning difficulties".

While learning disability, learning disorder and learning difficulty are often used interchangeably, they differ in many ways. Disorder refers to significant learning problems in an academic area. These problems, however, are not enough to warrant an official diagnosis. Learning disability, on the other hand, is an official clinical diagnosis, whereby the individual meets certain criteria, as determined by a professional (psychologist, pediatrician, etc.). The difference is in degree, frequency, and intensity of reported symptoms and problems, and thus the two should not be confused. When the term "learning disorder" is used, it describes a group of disorders characterized by inadequate development of specific academic, language, and speech skills. Types of learning disorders include reading (dyslexia), mathematics (dyscalculia) and writing (dysgraphia).The unknown factor is the disorder that affects the brain's ability to receive and process information. This disorder can make it problematic for a person to learn as quickly or in the same way as someone who is not affected by a learning disability. People with a learning disability have trouble performing specific types of skills or completing tasks if left to figure things out by themselves or if taught in conventional ways.

Individuals with learning disabilities can face unique challenges that are often pervasive throughout the lifespan. Depending on the type and severity of the disability, interventions, and current technologies may be used to help the individual learn strategies that will foster future success. Some interventions can be quite simplistic, while others are intricate and complex. Current technologies may require student training to be effective classroom supports. Teachers, parents, and schools can create plans together that tailor intervention and accommodations to aid the individuals in successfully becoming independent learners. School psychologists and other qualified professionals quite often help design the intervention and coordinate the execution of the intervention with teachers and parents.

Paralympic athletics

Paralympic athletics is a disabled sport practiced by athletes with a physical disability who have competed at separate international events since 1952. It is governed by the International Paralympic Committee through its World Para Athletics subcommittee, and has been one of the sports at the Summer Paralympic Games since 1960.Rules for the sport are adapted from those set forth by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF). The majority of rules for Paralympic athletics are the same as those for able-bodied competitions.

Physical disability

A physical disability is a limitation on a person's physical functioning, mobility, dexterity or stamina. Other physical disabilities include impairments which limit other facets of daily living, such as respiratory disorders, blindness, epilepsy and sleep disorders.

Social Security Administration

The United States Social Security Administration (SSA) is an independent agency of the U.S. federal government that administers Social Security, a social insurance program consisting of retirement, disability, and survivors' benefits. To qualify for most of these benefits, most workers pay Social Security taxes on their earnings; the claimant's benefits are based on the wage earner's contributions. Otherwise benefits such as Supplemental Security Income (SSI) are given based on need.

The Social Security Administration was established by a law codified at 42 U.S.C. § 901. It was created in 1935 as the Social Security Board, then assumed its present name in 1946. Its current leader, Deputy Commissioner of Operations Nancy Berryhill, was acting commissioner from January 19, 2017 through November 17, 2017.SSA is headquartered in Woodlawn, Maryland, just to the west of Baltimore, at what is known as Central Office. The agency includes 10 regional offices, 8 processing centers, approximately 1300 field offices, and 37 Teleservice Centers. As of 2018, about 60,000 people were employed by SSA. Headquarters non-supervisory employees of SSA are represented by American Federation of Government Employees Local 1923. Social Security is the largest social welfare program in the United States. For 2014, the net cost of Social Security was $906.4 billion, an amount corresponding to 21% of US Federal Government expenditures.It has been named the 12th best place to work in the U.S. federal government (out of 55 large agencies).

Social Security Disability Insurance

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSD or SSDI) is a payroll tax-funded, federal insurance program of the United States government. It is managed by the Social Security Administration and is designed to provide income supplements to people who are physically restricted in their ability to be employed because of a notable disability, usually a physical disability. SSD can be supplied on either a temporary or permanent basis, usually directly correlated to whether the person's disability is temporary or permanent.

People frequently confuse Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Unlike SSI, SSDI does not depend on the income of the disabled individual receiving it. A legitimately disabled person (a finding based on legal and medical justification) of any income level can theoretically receive SSD. ("Disability" under SSDI is measured by a different standard than under the Americans with Disabilities Act.) Most SSI recipients are below an administratively-mandated income threshold, and indeed these individuals must in fact stay below that threshold to continue receiving SSI; but this is not the case with SSD.

Informal names for SSDI include Disability Insurance Benefits (DIB) and Title II benefits. These names come from the chapter title of the governing section of the Social Security Act, which came into law in August 1935. As of July 1956, after spending twenty years bouncing around Congress, the Social Security Disability Insurance program was put into effect.


#SSDI (#7734) is a special marketing tool used by law firms. Many Claimants applying for Social Security Disability in the United States, who hire a law firm to represent their interests call the abbreviated dialing code, #SSDI (#7734) toll free from their cell phones. #SSDI is shared by a group of vetted law firms across the United States.

Special education

Special education (also known as special-needs education, aided education, exceptional education, special ed. or SPED) is the practice of educating students in a way that addresses their individual differences and needs. Ideally, this process involves the individually planned and systematically monitored arrangement of teaching procedures, adapted equipment and materials, and accessible settings. These interventions are designed to help individuals with special needs achieve a higher level of personal self-sufficiency and success in school and in their community which may not be available if the student were only given access to a typical classroom education.

Special education includes learning disabilities (such as dyslexia), communication disorders, emotional and behavioral disorders (such as ADHD), physical disabilities (such as osteogenesis imperfecta, cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, spina bifida, and Friedreich's ataxia), and developmental disabilities (such as autism spectrum disorders and intellectual disability) and many other disabilities. Students with these kinds of disabilities are likely to benefit from additional educational services such as different approaches to teaching, the use of technology, a specifically adapted teaching area, or a resource room.

Intellectual giftedness is a difference in learning and can also benefit from specialized teaching techniques or different educational programs, but the term "special education" is generally used to specifically indicate instruction of students with disabilities. Gifted education is handled separately.

Whereas special education is designed specifically for students with learning disabilities, remedial education can be designed for any students, with or without special needs; the defining trait is simply that they have reached a point of unpreparedness, regardless of why. For example, even people of high intelligence can be under-prepared if their education was disrupted, for example, by internal displacement during civil disorder or a war.

In most developed countries, educators modify teaching methods and environments so that the maximum number of students are served in general education environments. Therefore, special education in developed countries is often regarded as a service rather than a place. Integration can reduce social stigmas and improve academic achievement for many students.The opposite of special education is general education. General education is the standard curriculum presented without special teaching methods or supports. Students receiving special education services can sometimes enroll in a General education setting to learn along with students without disabilities.

World Para Athletics Championships

The World Para Athletics Championships, known as the IPC Athletics World Championships prior to 2017, are a biennial Paralympic athletics event organized by World Para Athletics, a subcommittee of the International Paralympic Committee (IPC). It features athletics events contested by athletes with physical and intellectual disabilities. The first IPC Athletics World Championships were held in Berlin, Germany in 1994.They are a Paralympic parallel to the IAAF World Championships in Athletics for able-bodied athletes. Since 2011, when they switched from a quadrennial scheduling to biennial, the IPC championships have been held in the same years as the IAAF championships, although they are separate events and were not necessarily held in the same host city. In 2017, London, which previously hosted the 2012 Summer Paralympics, became the first city to host both the IAAF World Championships and World Para Athletics Championships in the same year.

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