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  • Writer's pictureSruti Mohapatra

Types of Disabilities

Although “people with disabilities” sometimes refers to a single population, this is actually a diverse group of people with a wide range of needs. Two people with the same type of disability can be affected in very different ways, and are as likely as anyone else to have different abilities. Some disabilities may be hidden or invisible.  A disability may be permanent or temporary. It may exist from birth or be acquired later in life. 

According to the World Health Organization, disability has three dimensions: 

  1. Impairment in a person’s body structure or function, or mental functioning; examples of impairments include loss of a limb, loss of vision or memory loss.

  2. Activity limitation, such as difficulty seeing, hearing, walking, or problem-solving.

  3. Participation restrictions in normal daily activities, such as working, engaging in social and recreational activities, and obtaining health care and preventive services.

For me, a disability is a restriction of an individual's ability to perform an activity because of either physical, attitudinal or social barriers. But that does not mean that a person with a disability cannot participate equally. I am paralysed from my neck below at C7-C8 level. I need a wheelchair for mobility, a catheter for emptying my bladder and an attendant to support me while doing most of my daily activities. Thus, I work over 17 hours and participate in all activities in my family, my office and social circles. Appropriate accommodations and supports can ensure inclusion of all people with disabilities everywhere. It is important to remember that the word "disabled" is an adjective, not a noun. People are not conditions. It is therefore preferable not to use the term "the disabled"; but rather “person with disabilities," and best to call me “Sruti.” A beautiful name, isn’t it?

According to the RPwD Act 2016, the types of disabilities have been increased from existing 7 to 21 and the Central Government has the power to add more types of disabilities. 

I have made categorisations simple, in an Indian context,  by grouping the disabilities as per their impact on various bodily functions. The 21 disabilities are available below to download.


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