Disability as a medical condition is subject to local legislation. Each country's medical laws have various regulations that distinguish between what is a disability and what is not.
Many groups of disabled people have formed in time, in order to facilitate their integration in the society. In some countries, the traditional term of 'handicapped' earned a pejorative meaning, rendering it rarely used as a medical term and replaced with the usual 'disabled person'. Some groups use the humorous term of TAB: temporarily able-bodied, in order to show that many people are not born with disabilities but they become disabled as they age.
Disability often has physical causes, but psychological traumas can also lead to certain disabilities.
While the exact definition and list of disabilities varies from one legislation to another, certain ranges of disabilities can be isolated.
- Physical disabilities that affect movement, like muscular dystrophy or spina bifidia.
- Amputation or lack of one or more limbs.
- Sensory disabilities, like deafness or blindness
- Neurological disabilities like epilepsy
- Cognitive disabilities like autism
- Psychiatric affections that cause disabilities, like schizophrenia.
Some of these disabilities can be treated and ameliorated or healed. Myopia, for example, can be corrected, but other conditions like the cerebral palsy are impossible to correct.
Disabilities often affect one's ability to integrate in the society. Many fundamentalist societies purposely exclude disabled people, considering them to be punished by a divine force. In non-fundamentalist societies, the trend has been following the integration of disabled people in the society for a long while.
Modern views tend to give alternative perspectives towards disabilities. The social model of disability, considering disabilities to be a social condition rather than a medical one. Largely responsible for the spreading of these views is the disability rights movement that began in the 1970s.