The term “disability” broadly describes an impairment in a person’s ability to function, caused by changes in various subsystems of the body, or to mental health. The degree of disability may range from mild to moderate, severe, or profound.

Disabilities can be categorised as

  • Physical disabilities;
  • Sensory disabilities;
  • Learning disabilities;
  • Mental health disabilities; and,
  • Other hidden disabilities.

The Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) defines a person with disabilities as someone who has a physical or mental impairment that has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on the ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities.

For the purposes of the Act, substantial means that the effect on the disability is neither minor nor trivial – it does not have to be a severe effect long-term means that the effect of the impairment has lasted or is likely to last for at least 12 months and the effect must be a detrimental one – a person with a life expectancy of less than twelve months is covered if the effect is likely to last for the whole of that time normal day-to-day activities include everyday things like eating, washing, walking and going shopping.

The person must be affected in at least one of the respects listed in the DDA:

  • mobility
  • manual dexterity
  • physical coordination
  • continence
  • ability to lift, carry or otherwise move everyday objects
  • speech, hearing, or eyesight
  • memory or ability to concentrate, learn or understand
  • perception of risk of physical danger

The Disability Discrimination Act / Equality Commission

For further information on the codes of practice of the DDA go to the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland website:

www.equalityni.org (contacts section)

The Equality Commission can provide free and confidential advice to people who believe they have been discriminated against for a reason related to their disability. It also provides free general advice to employers and service providers on recommended good practice under the Disability Discrimination Act.

Phone: 028 90 500 600

Text phone: 028 9050 0589

Email: information@equalityni.org

www.equalityni.org (contacts section)