Concept of ‘Disability’: Legal Understanding

The concept of ‘Disability’ is a complex and multilayered. The terminology in case of disability keeps changing with the shift of language. Scholars have attempted to define the concept of disability; however that has not reached to any common definition. World Health Organisation (WHO) defines Disability[1] as an umbrella term which covers impairments, activity limitations, and participation restrictions, the definition further explains these three terminology: An Impairment is a problem in Body function or structure; an activity limitation is a difficulty encountered by an individual in executing a task or action; while a participation restriction is a problem experienced by an individual in involvement in life situations.

[1] WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION, Disabilities, Available at

The Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Full Participation and Protection of Rights) Act 1995defines ‘Person with disability’ to be meant as a person with disability means a person suffering from not less than forty per cent of any disability as certified by a medical authority. The definition classifies disability into seven forms which are Blindness, Low vision, Leprosy-cured, Hearing impairment, Locomotor disability, Mental retardation, Mental illness. This definition has faced lot of criticism, the reason being its limited scope and narrow in focus, further it also leaves various conditions from the purview of disability.

Shrut Brahmbhatt, Assistant Professor, Unitedworld School of Law (UWSL)

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