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February 25, 2020

Types of Disabilities

Disabilities in early childhood

Despite all the best efforts at prevention, children may be born with or develop the following disabilities in early childhood, from the causes which are not yet fully understood or could be prevented.
Types of Disabilities:
  1. Visual impairment
  2. Hearing impairment
  3. Loco motor impairment; Cerebral Palsy
  4. Mental retardation and Mental illness
  5. Children with learning disabilities
  • Dyslexia
  • Dysgraphia
  • Dyscalculia
  • Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)


Disability as defined by the Act (Pesons with Disability Act, 1995) covers blindness, low vision, leprosy - cured, hearing impairment, locomotor disability, mental retardation and mental illness as well as multiple disability. The Act does not cover disabilities like Autism, or learning disabilities. However, definitions/concepts of all relevant disabilities are given below


A condition where a person suffers from any of the following conditions namely:
  • Total absence of sight or
  • Visual acuity not exceeding 6/60 or 20/200 (snellen) in the better eye with correcting lenses; or
  • Limitation of the field vision subtending an angle of 20 degree or worse.

Person with low vision

A person with impairment of visual functioning even after treatment or standard refractive correction but who uses or is potentially capable of using vision for the planning or execution of a task with appropriate assistive device.

Cerebral Palsy

A group of non - progressive conditions characterized by abnormal motor control posture resulting from brain insult or injuries occurring in the peri - natal, neo - natal or infant period of development.

Hearing impairment

Loss of sixty decibels or more in the better ear in the conversational range of frequencies.

Leprosy cured person

Any person who has been cured of leprosy but is suffering from - loss of sensation in hands or feet as well as loss of sensation and paresis in the eye - lid but with no manifest deformity; manifest deformity and paresis but having sufficient mobility in their hands and feet to enable them to engage in normal economic activity; extreme e physical deformity as well as advanced age which prevents him from undertaking any gainful occupation.

Locomotor disability

Disability of the bones, joint or muscles leading to substantial restriction of the movement of the limbs or a usual form of cerebral palsy. Some common conditions giving raise to locomotor disability could be poliomyelitis, cerebral palsy, amputation, injuries of spine, head, soft tissues, fractures, muscular dystrophies etc.

Mental illness

Any mental disorder other than mental retardation
  • Mental retardation - A condition of arrested or incomplete development of mind of a person which is specially characterized by sub - normality of intelligence i.e. cognitive, language, motor and social abilities
  • Autism - A condition of uneven skill development primarily affecting the communication and social abilities of a person, marked by repetitive and ritualistic behaviour.
  • Multiple Disability - A combination of two or more disabilities as defined in clause (i) of section 2 of the Person with disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation)Act 1995 namely Blindness/low vision Speech and Hearing Impairement Locomotor disability including leprosy cured Mental retardation and Mental illness

Learning Disabilities (Dyslexia)

Affect person’s ability to acquire, process, and/or use either, spoken, read, written or nonverbal information( organization/planning, functional literacy skills, memory, reasoning, problem solving, perceptual skills) or in other words in short - difficulty with language in its various uses ( not always reading).
  • Dyspraxia - The inability to motor plan, to make an appropriate body response.
  • Dysgraphia - Difficulty with the act of writing both in the technical as well as the expressive sense. There may also be difficulty with spelling.
  • Dyscalculia - Difficulty with calculations.
  • Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder(ADHD) - Hyperactivity, distractibility and impulsivity


Missing or defective body part, an amputated limb, paralysis after polio, restricted pulmonary capacity, diabetes, nearsightedness, mental retardation, limited hearing capacity, facial disfigurement or other abnormal condition.


As a result of impairment may involve difficulties in walking, seeing, speaking, hearing, reading, writing, counting, lifting, or taking interest in and making one’s surrounding.
  • Temporary Total Disability - Period in which the affected person is totally unable to work. During this period, he may receive orthopaedic, opthalmological, auditory or speech any other medical treatment.
  • Temporary partial Disability - Period when recovery has reached the stage of improvement so that person may began some kind of gainful occupation.
  • Permanent Disability - Permanent damage or loss of use of some part/parts of the body after the stage of maximum improvement [from any medical treatment] has been reached and the condition is stationary.


A disability becomes a handicap when it interferes with doing what is expected at a particular time in one’s life.


Refers to a process aimed at enabling persons with disabilities to reach and maintain their optimal physical, sensory, intellectual, psychiatric or social functional levels;

Person with Disability

A person suffering from not less than forty percent of any disability as certified by a medical authority.

Institution for persons – with disabilities.

An institution for the reception, care, protection, with disabilities education, training, rehabilitation or any other service of persons
Note: Various State Governments have also adopted different sets of definitions for example, Government of Tamil Nadu declared one - eyed persons in the same category as blind persons and have extended various concessions
Source: A Handbook for Parents of Children with Disabilities