Introduction to disability
Disability is commonly understood as ‘the functional consequence of impairment in the body or human functioning’. It may or may not be visible. It may be sensory (e.g. deafness), neurological (e.g. epilepsy), physical (e.g. paraplegia), mental, psychiatric, emotional, an intellectual impairment, or the result of an acquired brain injury.
Disability may be:
- inherited: through genetic transmission or resulting from a genetic defect or mutation;
- congenital: resulting from infections, injury or abnormal development during pregnancy or injury during delivery or soon after birth;
- acquired: as in motor vehicle accident, disease or substance abuse;
- of unknown origin; or
- caused: by ageing, poor health and/or nutrition, environmental and social conditions and individual choices, often extending over many decades.