Disability definitions and etiquette

The term 'disability' covers a variety of situations.

Disability is a term covering personal impairments, activity limitations, and participation restrictions. The most common disability types for adults are physical and sensory disabilities.


  • can result from accident, illness, congenital disorders or genes.
  • can be of many different kinds - physical, intellectual or mental health-related.
  • may be visible or hidden, permanent or temporary and may have a little or major impact on a person’s life.
  • may affect mobility, ability to learn, or ability to communicate easily.

Most disabled people can do most things that people without disability can do. Sometimes a person may need some form of adjustment or support (eg a guide dog or adapted technology) to help them manage the effect of their disability. No two people are the same, and even people with the same disability don’t experience it in the same way.

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