What is a Disability?
A disability is defined as a physical, mental, or emotional condition which affects one or more major life activities (such as processing information, writing, hearing, or seeing). The College is mandated by law, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and the American with Disabilities Act (as amended, 2009) to ensure that: “No otherwise qualified individual with a disability in the United States…shall, solely by reason of…disability, be denied the benefits of, be excluded from the participation in, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving federal financial assistance.”
- Person First Language – the person is emphasized before the disability
- Disability – general term used for a functional limitation that interferes with a person’s ability, for example, to walk, lift, hear, or learn. It may refer to a physical, sensory, or mental condition. Use as descriptive noun or adjective, such as persons who are mentally and physically disabled or man with a disability.
- Handicap – (not a synonym for disability) describes a condition or barrier imposed by society, the environment, or by one’s own self. Handicap is derived from “cap in hand,” a phrase associated with beggars and begging. Handicap can be used when citing laws and situations but should not be used to describe a disability.
- Nondisabled – appropriate term for people without disabilities. Normal, able-bodied, healthy, or whole are inappropriate.