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What is Disability?

The definition of disability has changed since Easterseals was founded in 1919. In fact, the definition of disability isn’t quite the same as it was a decade, or even five years ago.

As the meaning of disability evolves as society changes, we’re working alongside the disability community to change how the world defines and views disability. We realize disability is not a limitation, but rather a normal part of life; one may be born with disabilities, or they may develop later in life. We see disability as just one part of a person’s identity.

What is the definition of disability?

Disability is defined as any visible, invisible, emotional, social and educational challenges that are a part of normal, everyday life. Disability can refer to a medical diagnosis, a barrier and/or a person’s identity.

What is the definition of disability?

About 1 in 5 adults living in the United States have a disability (according to the CDC). It’s likely that all of us know someone who has a disability – or will develop a disability – at some point in life, including ourselves. Whether it’s a child who is on the autism spectrum or a grandparent that has a hearing impairment, disability touches us all.

What is ableism?

Ableism is discrimination against people with disabilities.

How should I refer to someone who has a disability?

Simply put, it’s up to the individual. Some people prefer person-first language, which puts the person before the disability (e.g., a person who is blind), while others prefer identity-first language (e.g., a disabled person), as they feel their disability is an integral part of who they are. Bottom line: Always be respectful and never use words that are hurtful, offensive, or derogatory. You can find more about respectful language here.

I recently became disabled. What services can Easterseals offer me?

We offer an array of life-changing programs at our locations across the United States designed to help people with disabilities in all stages of life live, learn, work, and play in their communities. The first step to finding the services that best fits your needs is to connect with your local Easterseals. Find an Easterseals in your community here, or contact us if you’d like to know more about how Easterseals can serve you.

Get facts about specific disabilities, like autism, Down syndrome, and more here.

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