What is disability

In this article let's try to understand what is a disability in a comprehensive manner. This will help you to do better in your social work profession.

What is Disability 

The term ‘disability is considered to be a part of the human condition. Every individual at some point experiences some form of either temporary or permanent impairment in life situations. Those who experience permanent impairment and surviving till old age tend to experience increasing difficulties in day-to-day functioning and in the process of socialization. In the primordial society, the joint family system existed and it was a great source of support, care, and warmth to the individuals living with disabilities because the persons having no form of disabilities in them shouldered the responsibilities of providing mutual support and concern.

The United Nations estimated that 600 million people live with some form of physical, sensory or mental disabilities in the world today and that these numbers are expanding rapidly (World Health Assembly 2005). The contemporary disability prevalence estimates acknowledge that the social and societal contexts that influence people with atypical characteristics, being considered disabled. As life expectancy increase with technological advancements, the numbers and proportions of people living with disabilities also continue to expand. An increase in the rate of disability leads to deprivation of social and economic development. 

Meaning and Definition of Disability 

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the U.S.Department of Justice, 1991 defines

 the term ‘disability’ as a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more of the major life activities of such individual.

The World Health Organization (WHO, 1976) draws on a three-fold distinction between the concepts impairment, disabilities and handicap

Types of Disability 

  1.  Blindness 
  2. Low vision 
  3. Leprosy cured 
  4. earing Impairment
  5. Locomotor Disabilities
  6. Mental Retardation and
  7. Mental Illness
  8. Learning Disabilities 
  9. Multiple Disabilities 
  10. Cerebral Palsy and 
  11. Multisensory Impairments 
  12. Autism 
  13. Dwarfism 
  14. Deaf-blindness 
  15. Muscular Dystrophy 
  16. Physical Disabilities
Magnitudes of Disability.

Disability is a global phenomenon manifested in huge proportions of individuals in human society. It is estimated that the world population is growing rapidly. However, the growth is uneven. In the more developed regions there will be no increase whereas in the less developed regions it is forecast at above fifty percent. This increase is most pronounced in the older age groups. As disability is seen more common among the elderly, this rapid increase of the population aged 65 and above will have clear implications for the future prevalence of disability. Incidences of disability among children are sometimes difficult to identify before the child reaches a few months older.

 Many disabled infants and children die young even without been recognized as disabled by the formally or medically competent person. In a developing country like India, the incident infant mortality rate is seen higher.


Thank You