What is a disability?

Disability is a not an easy concept to define. It is far more than an individual health or medical problem. Much depends on how people understand the term and how they define themselves.

The 2010 Equality Act says that disability has a broad meaning. It is defined as a physical or mental impairment that has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on the ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities.’ Substantial’ means more than minor or trivial. ‘Impairment’ covers, for example, long-term medical conditions such as asthma and diabetes, and fluctuating or progressive conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis or motor neurone disease. A mental impairment includes mental health conditions (such as bipolar disorder or depression), learning difficulties (such as dyslexia) and learning disabilities (such as autism and Down’s syndrome). Some people, including those with cancer, multiple sclerosis and HIV/AIDS, are automatically protected as disabled people by the Act. People with severe disfigurement will be protected as disabled without needing to show that it has a substantial adverse effect on day to day activities.

Social Model of Disability

Many people think that a person is actually disabled by society.  The social model re-defines disability as a social construct. That means that it is the social, economic, attitudinal and political barriers to disabled people's independence and inclusion which disables them. This view empowers disabled people because it recognises that their exclusion is caused by society not their individual impairments

DG Voice welcomes all disabled members whatever their definition of disability is.

Assessing Capacity for Work