Overview of Disability
A person is considered to have a disability such as a limitation of performance or function in everyday activities, if he or she has difficulty talking, hearing, seeing,
walking, climbing stairs, lifting or carrying objects, perform activities of daily living or effecting working with the use of all extremities and senses.
A severe disability is said to be present when a person is completely unable to perform one or more activities normally easily done by an average person without much difficulty, uses an assistive device for mobility, or needs help from another person to accomplish a certain basic activities of daily living. Individuals are also considered severely disabled if they receive special benefits from their respective government due to their inability to work.
Prevalence of disability
The World Health Organization (WHO) once defined a disability as a limitation in a person’s abilities (e.g., mobility, personal care, communication, behavior), an impairment as a body system or function affected (eg, neurologic, respiratory, urologic), and a handicap as a disadvantage experienced by a person in his or her environment (e.g., workplace, economic sufficiency, independence). In an effort to change the focus from a classification based on disease to one based on health, these definitions were later revised.
According to the WHO, disability is an umbrella term for impairments, activity limitations, participation restrictions, and environmental factors, and impairment is a loss or abnormality in body structure or physiologic function which includes mental functioning. It is said that a person’s functioning or disability is viewed as a dynamic interaction between various health conditions (disease, disorders, trauma and injuries) and contextual factors (i.e., personal and environmental factors.
Handicap: An extinct terminology
The term handicap as a form of disability is no longer included in the revised World Health Organization classification system: International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF). The term was previously used to identify those circumstances in which the environment played a role in limiting the participation of people with disabilities in activities. The term societal participation is used in the revised WHO classification system in place of handicap, to acknowledge the fact that the environment is always interacting with people to either assist of hinder participation in life activities. The revision of the classification system acknowledges that the environment may have a greater impact on the ability of an individual to participate in life activities than does the physical, mental or emotional condition.
Characteristics of disability
Types of disabilities include sensory disabilities that affect hearing, vision, learning; disabilities that affect the ability to learn, remember and concentrate; disabilities that affect the ability to speak, communicate; and disabilities that affect the ability to work, study and perform activities of daily living.
Although different impairments may result from different types of disabilities, there are some similarities across disabilities in general. People with disabilities are often considered by society as
dependent and needing to be cared for by others.; however, many people with disabilities are highly functional and in fact very capable of looking out and caring for themselves (having full time jobs, rearing families of their own and making significant contributions to society) which basically does not hinder them from living their lives to the full extent despite a disability.