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What is a disability?

The definition of disability under the Disability Discrimination Act (1992) is very broad. It includes:

  1. total or partial loss of the person's bodily or mental functions; or
  2. total or partial loss of a part of the body; or
  3. the presence in the body of organisms causing disease or illness; or
  4. or the presence in the body of organisms capable of causing disease or illness; or
  5. the malfunction, malformation or disfigurement of a part of the person's body; or
  6. a disorder or malfunction that results in the person learning differently from a person without the disorder or malfunction; or
  7. a disorder, illness or disease that affects a persons' thought processes, perception of reality, emotions or judgement or that results in disturbed behavior;

and includes a disability that;

  • presently exists; or
  • previously existed but no longer exists; or
  • may exist in the future (including because of a genetic predisposition to that disability); or
  • is imputed to a person.
  • Under this broad definition, disability includes all physical, intellectual, psychiatric, sensory, neurological, and learning disabilities, as well as physical disfigurement, and disease or disease-causing organisms.

Check out our downloadable Information Sheet 'What is Disability?' (PDF, 192.89 KB)

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