Disability - Definition & Type

Definition of Disability:
The Disability Act (Government of Ireland, 2005) defines disability as:
“A substantial restriction in the capacity of the person to carry on a profession, business or occupation in the Irish State or to participate in social or cultural life in the Irish State by reason of an enduring physical, sensory, mental health or intellectual impairment.”

Types of Disability:
Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD)/
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
ADD and ADHD are neurological conditions affecting both learning and behaviour. They result from chronic disturbances in the areas of the brain that regulate attention, impulse control, and the executive functions, which control cognitive tasks, motor activity, and social interactions.

Hyperactivity may or may not be present. Treatable, but not curable, ADD and / or ADHD affects three to six percent of the population.

Blindness / Sight impairment
The following terms are used to describe people with visual disabilities:
“Totally blind” persons use Braille or other non-visual media.
“Legally blind” indicates that a person has less than 20/200 vision in the more functional eye or a very limited field of vision (20 degrees at its widest point).
“Low vision” refers to a severe vision loss in distance and near vision. Persons use a combination of vision and other senses to learn, and they may require adaptations in lighting or the print size, and, in some cases, Braille.

Acquired Brain Injury
Brain injury may occur in many ways. Traumatic brain injury typically results from accidents; however, insufficient oxygen, stroke, poisoning, or infection may also cause brain injury. Brain injury is one of the fastest growing types of disability, especially in the age range of 15 to 28 years.

Highly individual; brain injuries can affect persons very differently. Depending on the area(s) of the brain affected by the injury, a person may need support with:
Organizing thoughts, cause-effect relationships, and problem solving
Processing information and word retrieval
Generalizing and integrating skills
Social interactions
Short-term memory
Balance or coordination
Communication and speech

Deaf/Hard of Hearing
Persons who are deaf or hard of hearing require different accommodations depending on several factors, including the degree of hearing loss, the age of onset, and the type of language or communication system they use. They may use a variety of communication methods, including lip reading, cued speech, or Irish Sign Language.

Deaf or hard of hearing persons may:
be skilled lip readers, but many are not; only 30 to 40 percent of spoken English is distinguishable on the mouth and lips under the best of conditions
also need support with speech, reading and writing skills, given the close relationship between language development and hearing
use speech, lip reading, hearing aids and/or amplification systems to enhance oral communication
be members of a distinct linguistic and cultural group; as a cultural group, they may have their own values, social norms and traditions
use Irish Sign Language as their first language, with English as their second language.

Medical Disabilities
Other disabilities include conditions affecting one or more of the body’s systems. These include respiratory, immunological, neurological, and circulatory systems.
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
Epilepsy/Seizure Disorder
Lupus Erythmatosis
Multiple Sclerosis
Chemical Dependency
Epstein Barr virus
Multiple Chemical Sensitivity
Renal Disease

Physical Disabilities
A variety of physical disabilities result from congenital conditions, accidents, or progressive neuromuscular diseases. These disabilities may include conditions such as spinal cord injury (paraplegia or quadriplegia), cerebral palsy, spina bifida, amputation, muscular dystrophy, cardiac conditions, cystic fibrosis, paralysis, polio/post polio, and stroke.

Physical disabilities are highly individualised; the same diagnosis can affect persons very differently.

Psychiatric Disabilities
Psychiatric disabilities refer to a wide range of behavioural and/or psychological problems characterized by anxiety, mood swings, depression, and/or a compromised assessment of reality. These behaviours persist over time; they are not in response to a particular event. Although many individuals with psychiatric disabilities are stabilized using medications and / or psychotherapy, their behaviour may still be affected from time to time.

Speech and Language Disabilities
Speech and language disabilities may result from hearing loss, cerebral palsy, learning disabilities, and/or physical conditions. There may be a range of difficulties from problems with articulation or voice strength to complete absence of voice. Included are difficulties in projection, fluency problems, such as stuttering and stammering, and in articulating particular words or terms.

Learning Disabilities
Learning disabilities are neurologically based and may interfere with the acquisition and use of listening, speaking, reading, writing, reasoning, or mathematical skills. They affect the manner in which individuals process and / or express information. A learning disability may be characterized by a marked discrepancy between intellectual potential and actual achievement resulting from difficulties with processing information. The effects may change depending upon the learning demands and environments and may appear in a single area or impact performance across a variety of contexts.

People with learning disabilities may need support in one or more of the following areas:
oral and/or written expression
reading comprehension and basic reading skills
problem solving
ability to listen selectively
mathematical calculation and reasoning
interpreting social cues
time management
organization of tasks
following directions and concentrating
short-term memory