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Training Resource: Different Kinds of Disabilities

Right side of image reads "Training Resource: Different Kinds of Disabilities". Left side of image shows three people seated together and laughing each other. All people are from different backgrounds, nationalities and representing different disabilities.

Through the training resource, ImInclusive is answering the most frequently asked question of most employers in Middle East/ North Africa when they are about to begin hiring People of Determination.

Q. What are the different types of disabilities that people may have?

Answer: As individuals, we are all unique and similarly, each person's disability and accessibility requirement can vary. Most disability classification guides provide details of types of disability within 5 categories: vision, hearing, mobility, cognitive or learning disabilities. 

Visual Disabilities include a spectrum of vision loss:

  1. Night blindness: This visual impairment/disability means that people with it struggle to see at night.

  2. Albinism: This is a condition that affects the skin, hair, and eyes. People with albinism have a reduced amount of melanin, which affects their coloring and eyesight. People with this condition often have light hair color and pale skin. Albinism can cause poor eyesight, light sensitivity, nystagmus, and a squint.

  3. Blurred vision: This can affect how people see close up or far away. Glasses can be prescribed to help with blurred vision, but they don't always stop it. Blurred vision can appear in one or both eyes.

  4. Loss of peripheral vision: Peripheral vision is your wider field of vision, peripheral vision isn't straight in front of you but what you can see around you without turning your head. Loss of peripheral vision means you can only see right in front of you. This is sometimes also called ‘tunnel vision.

  5. Loss of central vision: This type of visual impairment/disability causes blurs or blind spots in your vision. It usually starts with a small blind spot that gets bigger over time. Loss of central vision can deteriorate very quickly.

  6. Nystagmus: This is a condition where the eye moves involuntarily up and down or side to side constantly. Typically, the people with this condition can’t see the movement, and others may find it hard to notice too. It can result in poor vision, such as not being able to see things that are far away, and it can get worse when the person is stressed or upset

  7. Colour blindness: This is the inability to see certain colors. People who are color blind can see some colors, but not all of them. Not being able to see any colors at all is very rare. The most common way to notice color blindness in others is their inability to see the difference between some colors. The most common deficiencies in color blindness are red and green, but it can happen with other colors.

  8. Legally Blind: Visual acuity less than 20/200 is considered legally blind, but to actually fit the definition, the person must not be able to attain 20/200 vision even with prescription eyewear. Many people who would be legally blind without eyewear can function well in everyday life with appropriate glasses or contact lenses. The reason that some people use this term is because there are so many different kinds of “blindness.”

    What is considered perfect vision: Visual acuity of 20/20 is considered “perfect vision” because no aids are required to see better, and the average person with good eyesight can see clearly what doctors have determined is 20/20 vision. Some people (especially young people) can see letters smaller than the general “20/20” size.


Hearing Loss

A person who is not able to hear as well as someone with hearing thresholds of 20 dB or better in both ears – is recognized as have hearing loss. Hearing loss may be mild, moderate, severe, or profound. It can affect one ear or both ears and leads to difficulty in hearing conversational speech or loud sounds.

  1. Hard of Hearing or HoH: 'Hard of Hearing' refers to people with hearing loss ranging from mild to severe. People who are hard of hearing, usually communicate through spoken language and can benefit from hearing aids, cochlear implants, and other assistive devices as well as captioning.

  2. Deaf: Deaf people mostly have profound hearing loss, which implies very little or no hearing. They often use sign language for communication. There is a very strong and close Deaf community with its own culture and sense of identity, based on a shared language. Deaf people attended schools and programs for the deaf.

  3. deaf (With a small “d”): Small d deaf, for a person who is deaf but doesn't identify as part of the community. They are on the spectrum of hearing loss but have not learned sign language yet. The “small d” deaf tend to have been mainstreamed and may not have attended a school for the deaf.

  4. Non-Speaking: People who may be non-speaking in addition to being Hard Of Hearing or Deaf.

Physical Disability 

Physical disability indicates any physical limitations or disabilities that inhibit the physical function of one or more limbs of a certain person. It can be temporary or permanent. Any person can acquire it through accident, injury, illness, post-surgery effects, and heredity.

Some common physical disabilities may include:

  1. Cerebral palsy: A group of disorders that impact a person's ability to move and maintain balance. Cerebral palsy is usually caused by unusual brain development or brain damage that affects one's ability to control one's muscles. It is the most common motor disability present at birth. The symptoms and severity of Cerebral palsy vary from person to person.

  2. Spinal cord injuries: Spinal cord injury indicates damage to any part of the spinal cord or nerves at the end of the spinal canal. It can result in permanent loss of strength, sensation, and function (mobility and feeling). Causes of spinal cord injuries can also be trauma.

  3. Amputation: Indicates removal of part of all of a body part that is enclosed by skin. Causes of Amputation may include accidents, animal attacks, warfare, surgery, or meningitis.

  4. Spina bifida: A condition at birth that occurs when the spine and spinal cord form unusually affecting the neural tube. People with Spina bifida may have a curved spine or a different spine structure.

  5. Musculoskeletal injuries: Refer to the damage to muscular or skeletal systems, which is usually due to strenuous activities. They are the most common work-related injuries. Workers often engage in frequent and repetitive work that requires them to hold awkward postures while working and eventually cause the injuries to progress with time. There could be genetic causes for this as well.

  6. Paralysis is the loss of movement in the body due to unusual developments or injury to the nervous system. There are two types:

  • Paraplegia is the full or partial paralysis of the lower half of the body

  • Quadriplegia is sometimes called tetraplegia and is the paralysis of both legs and both arms

Sensory Disabilities:

Caused by Hyposensitivity or Hypersensitivity of our 8 senses

  1. Hyposensitivity refers to a condition where a person has low sensitivity and therefore might be under-responsive to situations such as having a high pain tolerance, this person might not be aware if they’ve hurt themselves
  2. Hypersensitivity refers to a condition where a person might be over sensitive to certain environments and might be easily overwhelmed by certain sounds, smells, and tastes
  3. Epilepsy: Epilepsy is a central nervous system (neurological) disorder in which brain activity becomes abnormal, causing seizures or periods of unusual behavior, sensations, and sometimes loss of awareness. Anyone can develop epilepsy. Epilepsy affects both males and females of all races, ethnic backgrounds, and ages.

Intellectual Disabilities:

Some mental health, neurodevelopment, medical, and physical conditions frequently co-occur in individuals with intellectual disabilities, including 

  1. Autism: Autism is a complex developmental condition involving an individual with different social communication behaviors, specific/unique interests, and a liking towards patterns and repetitive behavior. While autism is considered a lifelong disorder, the degree of impairment in functioning because of these challenges varies between individuals with autism.

  2. Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder: Symptoms of ADHD include inattention (not being able to keep focus), hyperactivity (excess movement that is not fitting to the setting), and impulsivity (movement that occur in the moment without thought such as stemming behaviors).

  3. Impulse control disorder: Impulse-control disorder (ICD) is a class of behaviors characterized by impulsivity – failure to resist a temptation, an urge, or an impulse; or having the inability to not speak on a thought.

  4. Depression: Depression (major depressive disorder) is a common and serious medical illness that negatively affects how you feel, the way you think, and how you act. Fortunately, it is also treatable. Depression causes feelings of sadness and/or a loss of interest in activities once enjoyed. It can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems and can decrease a person’s ability to function at work and home. 

  5. Anxiety disorders: Anxiety disorders differ from normal feelings of nervousness or anxiousness and involve excessive fear or anxiety. Anxiety disorders are the most common of mental disorders and affect nearly 30 percent of adults at some point in their lives. Anxiety disorders can cause people to try to avoid situations that trigger or worsen their symptoms. Job performance, school work, and personal relationships can be affected.

Learning Disability:

Underneath the learning disability umbrella, many disabilities are categorized as one of three types: dyslexia, dysgraphia, and dyscalculia.

  1. Dyslexia: Dyslexia is a language processing disorder that impacts reading, writing, and comprehension. Dyslexics may exhibit difficulty decoding words or with phonemic awareness, identifying individual sounds within words. Dyslexia often goes diagnosed for many years and often results in trouble with reading, grammar, reading comprehension, and other language skills.

  2. Dysgraphia: Those with dysgraphia have trouble converting their thoughts into writing or drawing.One may struggle to translate their thoughts into writing, whether in spelling, grammar, vocabulary, critical thinking, or memory. The individual living with dysgraphia may exhibit difficulty with letter spacing, poor motor planning, spatial awareness, and trouble thinking and writing simultaneously. Sometimes referred to as having “math dyslexia,” individuals might have difficulty reading clocks to tell time, counting money, identifying patterns, remembering math facts, and solving mental math

  3. In auditory processing disorder (APD):  the individual will have difficulty processing sounds. Individuals with APD may confuse the order of sounds or be unable to filter different sounds, like a teacher’s voice versus background noise. In APD, the brain misinterprets the information received and processed from the ear.

  4. Language processing disorder: A subset of auditory processing disorder, language processing disorder arises when an individual has specific challenges in processing spoken language, impacting both receptive and expressive language. According to the Learning Disabilities Association of America, in language processing disorder, “there is difficulty attaching meaning to sound groups that form words, sentences, and stories.”

  5. Nonverbal learning disabilities: While it may sound like nonverbal learning disabilities (NVLD) relate to an individual’s inability to speak, it actually refers to difficulties in decoding nonverbal behaviors or social cues. NVLD sufferers struggle with understanding body language, facial expressions and tone of voice, or the nonverbal aspects of communication.

    Our team has worked hard to research and bring these resources for you. If you find it informative, do leave a comment on this post! And thank you for your curiosity that drives us to share useful information, publicly and openly.

    Team at ImInclusive

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