Types of disabilities
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According to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), a disability is "a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more of the major life activities". Disabilities highlight barriers to access when they are introduced into places and events.
A wide variety of disabilities affect individuals, and each requires its own assistance; the ability to recognize different types of disabilities helps with making proper accommodations. See below for information about different categories of disabilities.
Visual disabilities can cause an inability to see objects, perceive light or color, correctly judge distances, or access information in visual media like print, images, or video. Typical symptoms include total blindness, low vision, and color blindness. Vision impairments can be caused by genetic disorders such as retinitis pigmentosa, degenerative diseases like macular degeneration, or physical damage to the eye or brain.
Mobile disabilities can cause difficulty with, or inability to use, the hands, feet, arms, or legs. Typical symptoms include tremors, muscle slowness, loss of fine motor control, or paralysis. Mobility impairments can be caused by conditions such as Parkinson's Disease, muscular dystrophy, cerebral palsy, or stroke.
Auditory disabilities can cause partial or total inability to perceive sounds and access audio-based information presented in media. Symptoms include total deafness or varying degrees of hearing loss. Auditory impairments can be caused by inner ear nerve malformation or damage, neurological disorders, or physical trauma to the brain.
Neurological disabilities can cause restricted sensory perceptions, mental processes, or motor functions. Typical symptoms include paralysis, tremors, memory loss, and cognitive malfunctions. Neurological impairments can be caused by genetic disorders affecting the brain or nervous system such as muscular dystrophy, degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's disease, or seizure disorders such as epilepsy.
Cognitive disabilities can cause loss of memory, reduced attention span, restricted intellectual development, underdeveloped maturity and judgment, or limited problem-solving and logic skills. Typical symptoms include forgetfulness, extreme emotional changes, intellectual underdevelopment, and inappropriate decisions. Cognitive impairments can be caused by developmental disabilities or learning disabilities.
Medical disabilities can cause restricted endurance, attention, or mobility, various levels of pain, and fatigue. Typical symptoms include shortness of breath, low endurance in activity or sitting, or sudden weakness or pain. Medical impairments can be caused by musculoskeletal injuries, cardiovascular conditions, respiratory illnesses, immune system disorders, or digestive tract problems.
Psychological disabilities can cause impaired intellectual processes, decision rationale, emotional maturity, or perception of reality. Typical symptoms include extreme emotional states or sudden outbursts, inability to comprehend information, mental disconnection from immediate circumstances, or violent acts toward self or others. Psychological impairments can be caused by poor mental health, emotional disorders, addiction disorders, or bipolar disorders.