Disability is a condition of the mind or body that limits a person's activity and interaction with the world around them. Due to a lack of true knowledge about disability, society often develops stigma, stereotypes and misconceptions about those living with them.

On this International Day of Persons with Disabilities (Dec.3), learn some facts about disabilities, to understand the lives of people with impairments and acknowledge their daily challenges.

According to WHO, a person's disability can be due to three factors; impairment, activity limitation or participation restrictions. Impairment could be physical such as loss of limb, vision or mental (memory loss). A person's activity gets limited when they face difficulties in seeing, hearing, walking or issues with problem-solving. Participation restrictions affect a person's normal daily activities including work and recreation.

Some people may have disabilities from birth, and in some cases, they become apparent during childhood. Injuries, chronic health conditions and progressive disorders can also cause disabilities.

Here are some facts about disabilities:

  • Around 1.3 billion people in the world suffer from significant disability.
  • People with a disability face an additional risk of developing conditions such as depression, asthma, diabetes, stroke, obesity or poor oral health.
  • People who have the same type of disability can be affected in different ways.
  • Not all disabilities can be seen. There is a wide range of non-visible disabilities such as depression and anxiety, hearing loss, cognitive impairment and chronic pain.

Misconceptions about disabilities:

1. People with disabilities are always confined to wheelchairs - While people using wheelchairs due to mobility issues represent a visibly apparent form of disability, one should know that there is a diverse spectrum of disabilities. Even if a person uses a wheelchair, it does not mean they are paralyzed or chronically ill. Wheelchairs are a mode of transportation that makes the lives of people with reduced strength and mobility easier.

2. People with disabilities are always sick and in pain - Not all people with disability suffer from pain or often get sick. Most people with disabilities report good health, although certain disabilities such as spinal cord injury or multiple sclerosis raise the risk of secondary conditions, including fatigue, pain, injury and bowel issues.

3. People with disabilities are always dependent - Disability does not always make a person dependent. However, some people with disability might need assistance.

4. People with disabilities cannot have a full and productive life - It is a misconception that people with disabilities live sad lives. They can lead a full and productive life, which includes all facets enjoyed by other people such as education, relationships, household chores, vacations and community responsibilities.