What Is A Disability?

Types Of Disabilities

A disability can be defined in terms of a human impairment and the environmental situation. That is, a blind person is disabled if given a printed book, but is not disabled if given a braille book. Likewise, a sighted person given a braille book would be disabled, butn not if they are given a printed book. We can also impair our cognitive abilities if consuming too much alcohol.

Almost everyone will experience a disability at some point in their lives; whether due to aging, a chronic disease, illness, or an injury. With seniors and people with disabilities representing 40% of income over the coming years, a focus on access and inclusion is a smart and sustainable business investment.
The Canadian Survey on Disability estimates that aging baby boomers account for 33% of the population but 55% of the discretionary income, and between 2016 and 2041, the number of seniors aged 65 and over is projected to more than double. Currently about one third of Canadianss over the age of 65 have a disability, and 70% of disabilities are non-apparent.

  • The number of seniors aged 65 and over is projected to almost double from 16.7% of population in 2017, to 24.8% by 2041.
  • One in seven Canadians aged 15 to 64 years or older reported having a disability.
  • About 14% of persons with disabilities have a university diploma compared to 27% of persons without disabilities.
  • Those that have a high school diploma or equivalent with disabilities is about 26.6%, and without disabilities is about 23.7%.
  • Canadian Accessibility statistics

Learn More About Disabilities

Additional Resources

  • Vision Impairment Simulator – The Sight Center of Northwest Ohio
    The Simulator depicts several of the most common vision impairments, including macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma and cataracts. Glimpse the world through different eyes as you view a face, street signs, landscapes and other images. The Simulator will not show exactly what your loved one is experiencing, but it can begin a process of greater understanding, empathy and support. In other words, it can help you open your eyes to the way their eyes work.
  • Hearing Loss Simulator
    Find Out What Hearing Loss is Like.
  • W3C: How People with disabilities access and navigate the Web
    This web page introduces some of the techniques and tools that people with disabilities use to interact with the web; web browser settings, text-to-speech, voice recognition, and many more.
  • W3C: How websites that are designed for people with disabilities benefit everyone.
    This web page explores the wide diversity of people and abilities. It highlights some web accessibility barriers that people commonly experience because of inaccessible websites and web tools.
  • UXDesign: Who decides how disability is represented in stock photography?
    This web page considers the question of collections of disability representation in stock photography. Despite the fact that 15% of the population globally has some type of disability, representation is not equal. The problem with stock photography is that it relies upon contributors to provide images of what they think will sell, leaving the process open to the biases and assumptions of the individual photographer. So, it is clear that we have a representation gap due to a lack of visibility, an over-reliance on stereotypes, and an idea that it is easy to play the part of disability on camera. Even television has this problem, despite an overall increase of disabled characters.
  • Ableist attitudes: Take our quiz to understand disability bias
    Can you recognize when you’re being ableist? Even well-meaning people can exhibit unconscious bias against people with disabilities. Ableism is rooted in the assumption that non-disabled people are the ideal. The Washington Post consulted 25 disabled activists and scholars, including representatives from several national disability organizations, to create a quiz that can help someone learn more about ableist thinking.
  • WBH: Of Keys and Castles – The Social Model of Disability, by Trevor Attenberg, April 2023
    Social model proponents suggest that if societies didn’t decide that it is normal and preferable to exceed a certain threshold of sight, hearing, physical strength, intelligence, preferred behavior, etc., we might not be talking about blindness, or any such disability-related terms. Disability itself is thus thought of here as a social condition, similar to the way we often talk of race, ethnicity, and gender.
    What is your view: Medical model, Charity model, Social model or Economic model of disabilities?