Follow Our Live Coverage of COVID-19 Developments


A disability is any limitation that makes it difficult for a person to carry out daily activities. Disabilities can be physical or mental in nature, and they can range greatly in severity. Disabilities are also quite common, with almost one in five Americans having some form of disability. Some disabilities are due to a problem that a person is born with, while others develop later in life as a result of an injury or illness.

Types of Disabilities

Many types of disabilities exist and are grouped into categories. Chronic medical disorders refer to diseases that cause disability, such as arthritis, diabetes, cerebral palsy or multiple sclerosis. Cognitive and intellectual disorders include brain injuries, stroke, Down syndrome and disabilities related to other mental problems. Some people become disabled because of drug or alcohol abuse. There are also sensory disabilities, such as being deaf or blind. And there are disabilities that become more common as a person ages, such as disabilities related to Alzheimer’s disease, for example.

Opportunities for People With Disabilities

The treatment for a disability will differ based on the type and severity of the disability, but it’s important that people with disabilities have the opportunity to be successful in life. The Americans with Disabilities Act protects these rights and ensures that people with disabilities have many of the same opportunities as Americans without disabilities. Some people with physical disabilities can get assistive devices, such as wheelchairs or braces, to help them with movement. And some intellectual disabilities can be treated. For those with sensory disabilities such as blindness or deafness, there are tools ranging from Braille for reading to closed captioning on television programming to help them in daily life.

SOURCES: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

disabilities Topics in the News