There are many types of disability which may impact on a person’s life according to the broad definition of disability within the Commonwealth Disability Discrimination Act 1992. Below are some common disability types with links to more information and organisations who can provide additional support to people with these disabilities as well as family, peers, colleagues or supporters.
Acquired Brain Injury
An Acquired Brain Injury (ABI) is a term used to describe all types of brain injury which occur after birth. The brain can be injured as a result of a traumatic brain injury, stroke, tumour, substance abuse, a lack of oxygen, disease or infection.
Although there may be some similarities between ABI and intellectual disability, it is not the same. People with ABI usually retain their intellectual abilities but have difficulty controlling, coordinating and communicating their thoughts and actions.
Blindness and Low Vision
A person is considered legally blind when they cannot see at six metres what someone with standard vision can see at 60 metres or have visual fields of less than 20 degrees. A person who is totally blind has no measurable or useable vision, and no light perception.
Those with low vision are those whose vision loss cannot be corrected with visual aids, such as glasses or contact lenses. Blindness and vision loss can occur from birth or at any other time in a person’s life and result from a range of different causes.
Deaf or Hard of Hearing
Deaf or Hard of Hearing describes functional hearing loss can range from mild to profound and can be caused by a multitude of factors including illness, injury, hereditary or age.
People who identify as Deaf (with a capitalised D) often have little or no functional hearing and use sign language to communicate. The term hearing impairment is often used to describe people who have mild to moderate hearing loss.
Health Conditions is used as an umbrella term to describe the variety of conditions or illnesses which may result in impaired function. These include temporary and/or episodic illnesses and degenerative conditions such as cancer, arthritis, fibromyalgia, asthma and more. The episodic nature of many health conditions can mean that there are fluctuating periods of good health and ill health.
Intellectual disability is a broad term used to define a group of conditions, with various causes, which are characterised by an IQ below 70 (the median IQ is 100) and limitations in both intellectual functioning and adaptive behaviour. Intellectual disability is generally identified during childhood and often results in difficulties with communication, socialisation and daily living skills. With the right support, people with intellectual disability can learn and keep learning and can make a valuable contribution to the community.
Mental Health Conditions
Mental health conditions is an umbrella term used to describe a range of mental health diagnoses that affect a person’s emotions, thinking or behaviour. Mental health conditions can range in severity and duration. Any person can be impacted by a mental health condition, or experience symptoms of a mental health condition at any time during their lifetime.
Neurodiversity is a term coined around the late 1990s as an umbrella term for people with neurological differences relating to the way people think, learn and behave. It includes conditions such as:
- Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder which can impact a person’s ability to control their behaviour and cognition - ADHD Australia
- Autism Spectrum Condition which can affect a person’s ability to interact with the world around them - Australian Autism Alliance
- Specific Learning Disability such as dyslexia or dyspraxia which can affect a person’s ability to acquire reading, writing and mathematical skills - Australian Federation of Specific Learning Difficulties Associations
Neurological conditions affect the central and peripheral nervous system and can be acute, chronic, remissive or degenerative in nature. There are over 600 different neurological conditions including epilepsy, motor neurone disease, multiple sclerosis, dementia and more.
A physical disability is any condition, temporary or permanent, which results in impaired mobility, physical capacity, stamina or dexterity. Physical disability can be caused by a variety of factors such as injury, disease, illness or genetic conditions.
1 Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (Cwth) (Aust.). http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/legis/cth/consol_act/dda1992264/index.html#s