Disability Defined

Disability is defined as a physical or mental function of a person which is significantly impaired in comparison to the normal standard. A disability can be permanent or temporary. An impairment that prohibits or limits an individual’s ability to work is an employment disability.

The World Health Organization has differentiated between body functions (psychological and physiological) and body structure in the International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF). There are nine general areas of functioning which can be affected listed in the ICF:

1. Learning and applying knowledge

2. General tasks and demands

3. Communication

4. Mobility

5. Self-care

6. Domestic life

7. Interpersonal interactions and relationships

8. Major life areas

9. Community, social and civic life.

There are various laws surrounding employment and disability. According to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), employers cannot discriminate against and must make reasonable accommodations for qualified individuals who are disabled. The ADA pertains to anyone with a disability or the history of one. Also, if a worker becomes disabled, he or she may be entitled to time-off and benefits.