What is a Disability?

Whenever people think of disability, they often picture it as somebody in a wheelchair. The truth is, only 5% of disabled people actually use wheelchairs. According to the Equality Act 2010, a person is disabled if they have some mental or physical impairment and this condition has left a substantial long term effect on the ability of the person to perform daily activities as a person without a disability would.

Physical impairments

It can be any physical damage or injury such as loss of a limb, sensory impairment, or dexterity. It also includes certain health conditions that have varying effects. Cancer, arthritis, osteoporosis, diabetes, chronic fatigue syndrome etc are some of the medical conditionals included.

Among these physical impairments, there are progressive conditions too. These are the medical conditions that are subject to get worst with time. They include heart diseases, asthma, cardiovascular diseases, muscular dystrophy etc.

Mental impairments

These include various learning disabilities. Development disorders like Autism, Dyspraxia, and Asperger’s are included. Mental health issues are also covered in this section. It can be severe depression, eating disorders, nervous breakdown, schizophrenia, and other personality disorders.

The mental disorder has to be clinically proven to call a person disabled but this requirement has been removed since 2005.

The physical or mental impairment must last for least 12 months. The effect of the impairment must be significant. It must be not trivial or minor.

There are some disorders or health conditions which are excluded from the definition of disability. These include addiction, hay fever, alcoholism, tendency of stealing, abuse etc.

There is no exhaustive checklist that can define disability. The thing that is important is the effect of that condition on the normal day to day activities of a person.

What are the major Adult disabilities?

These disabilities have been defined below:


AIDS or HIV infection is not just a single condition. This medical conditional is capable of spreading throughout the body leaving a person in a state where their immune system can no longer provide protection against illness.


It is a mental disability that continues throughout the lifetime of a person. It influences the way of communication of a person, the way they relate to other people, and the way he senses the world around him. More than half million people in UK are suffering from Autism.


This condition affects the respiratory system of a person. It blocks airways of a person as they become tight and narrow and the person faces difficulty in breathing.

Acquired brain injury

It can be caused because of a fall, road accident, stroke, tumor etc. it is not a brain injury that has been caused through a traumatic birth.


Inflammation in joints is what causes arthritis. 10 million people in UK are suffering from arthritis and this figure involves people of all ages. The person suffering from this problem experiences pain and difficulty in moving.


According to medical science, there are 200 different types of cancers and each one has its own causes, symptoms and treatments.

Blindness and deafness

These disorders are included in visual and hearing impairment and the people suffering from them are counted in the list of disabled.


2.8 million People within UK are suffering from diabetes. It is the condition when the amount of glucose in the blood becomes too high.

Heart conditions

Any health condition related to the heart such as heart attacks, angina or cardiovascular disease are included.

Learning disability

Most of the learning disabilities are developed before the baby is even born. These disabilities tend to continue throughout the life of the person, making it harder for them to learn, communicate and understand. About 1.5 million people in UK are suffering from a learning disability.


It is the fragile bone disease in which the bones of the person lose strength and the person faces difficulty in walking.

Tourette’s syndrome

It is a neurological condition in which a person experiences involuntary movements and sounds.
The person who has had some disability in the past is also covered by the UK disability Act. It is important for the able people to not make any judgments about the impairments they come across whether a person is disabled or not. Statistics show that only 52% of people in UK who are covered by the equality Act consider themselves as disabled. There are acts within UK that protect the rights of the disabled by ensuring they are protected from any kind of discrimination. They have the right to health, education and employment just like any other person.