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.
  • Website Accessibility, Disability Statistics: Mark Rogers, May 2019
    This post is a compilation of disability statistics from government agencies and researchers in the US, UK and Canada. The statistics shown have most impact on website use, and help assess the impact of accessibility problems, in terms of numbers of people affected, and likely commercial impact.
  • 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.
  • Mount Royal University Education – HPED 3320: Adapted Physical Activity
    This course was created in 2001 and is now a required course in three of the four programs within the Department of Health and Physical Education and is offered in 4 sections throughout the year. This course provides an examination of specific problems within the psychomotor domain and the related delivery systems for their identification and amelioration. It is designed as an applied course that focuses on the issues and challenges and tremendous opportunities for providing physical activity experiences for persons with a disability. For more information contact David Legg at dlegg@mtroyal.ca