Disability, Condition and Context

Disabilities and Conditions in Context

Disabilities and conditions impact individuals in various ways depending on the context in which that individual finds themself.  Individual accommodations may be applied in a classroom setting, the workplace, activities, or in social settings.  Similar accommodations may benefit an individual in each context while selective accommodations may apply only in one area, such as the classroom or workplace. 

What is a Disability or Condition?

A Disability or Condition is:

  • Any physiological disease, disorder, or condition, cosmetic disfigurement, or anatomical loss affecting one or more of the following body systems: neurological, musculoskeletal, special sense organs, respiratory (including speech organs), cardiovascular, reproductive, immunological, digestive, genitourinary, hemic and lymphatic, skin and endocrine; and/or,
  • Any mental or psychological disorder, such as mental retardation, organic brain syndrome, emotional or mental illness, or specific learning disabilities; or any such disorder that requires special education or related services.

A Disability Is Not:

  • A physical characteristic such as eye or hair color, left-handedness, or height/weight within normal range;
  • A personality or character trait such as irritability, chronic lateness, or poor judgment; and,
  • An environmental, cultural or economic disadvantage such as a lack of education or a prison record.

When Does a Disability or Condition Qualify under the Americans with Disabilities Act as amended?

When it:

  • Limits a major life activity; and/or,
  • Limits a major bodily function.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (1990) and its subsequent ADA Amendments Act (2008) define disability as substantially limiting a major life activity or a major bodily function.

Major Life ActivitiesMajor Bodily Functions
Caring for SelfBrain
Interacting with OthersEndocrine
Performing Manual TasksImmune
SittingNormal Cell Growth
SleepingOperating of an Organ
ThinkingSpecial Sense Organs & Skin