It seems such an obvious question – but it has far from an obvious answer.
You reading this could even be disabled, and just not think it.
The dictionary definition of the word “disabled” is:
“(of a person) having a physical or mental condition that limits their movements, senses, or activities.”
But there’s no clarification as to what level this “limit” is. Someone who needs prescription glasses to drive will surely class as disabled, but someone who uses reading glasses that they bought from a pound shop to do a crossword probably wouldn’t class themselves as disabled – but should they?
The answer is yes. A disability is a disability, no matter how big or small, but a lot of people do not realise that.
Whether it’s because they feel humiliated to call themselves disabled, they think it’s petty that something so small can be considered disabled, or indeed any other reason, the uncertainty stretches nationwide.
And not only that, it stretches to higher authorities too; I asked three local councils about their expenditure on disabled projects, and this is what they had to say…
Redcar and Cleveland council told us that between January 2015 and January 2019, they had spent £18,000 on disabled adaptations and access works. South Tyneside council told us that in the same time period they had spent £7.154 million on it.
But, as discussed in the video, it’s highly unlikely that one council does that much more for disabled people than another council, despite that being what the figures suggest.
What is more likely is that they have different definitions of the word disabled.
And that brings us back to the title of the article – what is a disability?
Over the coming days, we hope to shine a bit more of a light on what a disability is and what it means to people who suffer from one.
Trainee Sports Journalist at Teesside University.