What is Disability?


The World Health Organization (WHO) defines ‘disability’ as more than just physical impairment, to include activity limitations and participation restrictions. Disability is thus set in the context of the interaction between a person’s body, and the people and society in which he or she lives.

Interventions are needed to address the severe physical challenges of health conditions such as cerebral palsy and Down syndrome, as well as environmental and social barriers. People with disabilities may also suffer a narrower ‘margin of health’ due to poverty and social exclusion, and because of increased health risk behaviours such as poor diet and physical inactivity. Learn more about this world through the Perspectives blog below.

Disability and Health


In its fact sheet on Disability (Nov 2012), the WHO puts over a billion people, or about 15% of the world’s population, as having some form of disability. Of this number, between 110 million and 190 million people have significant difficulties in functioning. These rates are increasing worldwide in part due to ageing populations.

Disability is extremely diverse. Some health conditions associated with disability result in poor health and extensive health care needs, others do not. At Christian Outreach to the Handicapped, the forms of physical disability we care for and treat can be quite severe. In most cases, we focus on the training of daily life skills that will be helpful in the home. Learn more about specific disabilities below.

Information and Resources


Convulsive disorders or convulsions (seizures, fits) like epilepsy can be caused by any kind of brain damage. Brain lesions of any type (physical or biochemical), size, or location may result in seizures.
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Hearing Impairment

The term “hearing impaired” encompasses anyone who for any reason has a hearing loss which interferes with the normal reception and understanding of speech and sound. This hearing loss is measured in decibels…
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Autism Spectrum Disorder

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a complex developmental disorder that usually first appears during the first three years of life. It is a disorder in which the person does not respond normally to stimulation…
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Cerebral Palsy

Cerebral Palsy (Little’s disease or congenital spastic paralysis, CP) is a term used to describe a group of long-term conditions that affect body movement. It is caused by brain damage before or during birth or during infancy.
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Down Syndrome

Named after Dr John Langdon-Down (1886), Down syndrome is a genetic condition in which a child is born with an extra chromosome that changes the orderly development of the body and brain causing…
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Intellectual Disability

It is a term used when a person has limitations in general intellectual functioning (understanding & learning) existing with deficits in adaptive behaviour. The disability originates before the age of 18.
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