Types of Disabilities

In simple words Disability means incapacity or lack of some asset, attribute or quality which prevents one from performing any task.
But what is a Disability as per our Indian Law?

Legal Definition According to
“Person with Disability” means a person with long term physical, mental, intellectual or sensory impairment which, in interaction with barriers, hinders his full and effective participation in society equally with others.  

As per THE RIGHTS OF PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES ACT, 2016, the types of disabilities recognised have been increased from previous Seven (7)
as per 1995 Act for People with Disabilities to presently Twenty-one (21).
And the Central Government willhave the power to add more types of disabilities if they find appropriate.

As per THE RIGHTS OF PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES ACT, 2016 The 21 conditions considered as Disabilities are as follows

  • 1. Blindness
  • 2. Low-vision
  • 3. Leprosy Cured persons
  • 4. Hearing Impairment (deaf and hard of hearing)
  • 5. Locomotors Disability
  • 6. Dwarfism
  • 7. Intellectual Disability
  • 8. Mental Illness
  • 9. Autism Spectrum Disorder
  • 10. Cerebral Palsy
  • 11. Muscular Dystrophy
  • 12. Chronic Neurological Conditions
  • 13. Specific Learning Disabilities
  • 14. Multiple Sclerosis
  • 15. Speech and Language Disability
  • 16. Thalassemia
  • 17. Hemophilia
  • 18. Sickle Cell Disease
  • 19. Multiple Disabilities including Deaf Blindness
  • 20. Acid Attack Victim
  • 21. Parkinson's Disease


Following hospitals are the Certifying Medical Authority in Mumbai & Pune.

  • J.J. Hospital for Mental Retardation, Autism, Visual impairment, Hearing Impairment & Physical disabilities (if accompanied by other disabilities)
  • Hospitals- a) Sion b) Nair c) KEM for Learning Disability
  • All India Institute of Physical medicine & Rehabilitation for Orthopaedic Impairments Only
  • Ali Yavar Jung Hospital for Hearing Impairment Assessment
  • Byramjee Jeejeebhoy Govt. Medical College &Sassoon General Hospital, Pune

    J.J. Hospital (For Mental Retardation,
    Physical Disability with intellectual impairments,
    Autism, Visual and Hearing Impairment)

    Phone: 22-23735555, 23754995, 23739400,
    23750102, 23739034, 23739035, 23739040

    Website: www.gmcjjh.org


    J JMarg, Nagpada-Mumbai Central,
    Off Jijabhoy Road, Mumbai - 400008.


    B.Y. L. Nair Hospital (For Learning Disability)
    Tel: 022-23027000, Direct-022-23027659
    Website: www.tnmcnair.com
      Topiwala National Medical College & B. Y. L.
    Nair Charitable Hospital, Dr. A. L. Nair Road,
    Mumbai - 400008
    Sion Hospital (For Learning Disability)
    Tel: 022-2407 6381,2406 3000
    2409 2020, 2408 2504
    Website: www.ltmgh.com
      Dr.Babasaheb Ambedkar Road,
    Sion (West),Mumbai – 400022.
    King Edward Memorial (KEM) Hospital
    (For Learning Disability)

    Tel: 022-2410 7000
    Website: www.kem.edu
      Acharya Donde Marg, Parel,
    Mumbai 400 012.
    Ali Yavar Jung
    National institute of Speech and Hearing
    (Only for Assessment of Hearing Impairment)

    Tel: 022-2640 0215, 26455937
      K.C. Marg, Bandra Reclamation,
    Bandra (W), Mumbai - 400050
    All India Institute of Physical
    Medicine & Rehabilitation
    (Only Locomotor Impairments)

    Tel: 022-2354 4332,23544341,23515765
    Website: www.aiipmr.gov.in

      K. Khadye Marg,Haji Ali,Mahalaxmi,
    Mumbai, Maharashtra 400034
    Byramjee Jeejeebhoy Govt. Medical
    College & Sassoon General Hospital, Pune

    Phone: 020- 26128000
      Jai Prakash Narayan Road,
    Near Pune Railway Station,
    Pune - 411001


    While describing disabling conditions the terms Impairment, Disability and Handicap are often used, sometimes too loosely, sometimes interchanged wrongly.

    The definitions provided by the World Health Organisation (WHO) are given below.

    • Impairment is any loss or abnormality of psychological, physiological or anatomical structure or function. Impairment refers to a problem with a structure or organ of the body.
    • Disability is any restriction or lack (resulting from an impairment) of ability to perform an activity in the manner or within the range considered normal for a human being. Disability is a functional limitation with regard to a particular activity.
    • Handicap is a disadvantage for a given individual, resulting from impairment or a disability,that limits or prevents the fulfillment of a role that is normal (depending on the age, sex, and local and cultural factors) for that individual. Handicap refers to an environmental factor preventing fulfillment of a normal life role.

    These Terms can be further explained as

    • Impairment is a dysfunction resulting from pathological changes in a system e.g. losing a limb in an accident, which may or may not interfere with the performance of a child.
    • Disability is a consequence of impairment in terms of functional performance and it indicates what the person can not do rather than what he can do.
    • Handicap is a sum total of the disability, the person's own reactions towards it and attitude of the family and the society.


    This resource guide focuses on Educational aspect and Rehabilitation. It aims at creating awareness and building positive attitude towards disability. Even though conditions like Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, Epilepsy etc. are not regarded as Disability (legally), they are discussed here because they hamper the child's growth and often require special education and management.

    Classification of Disability

    Related to the Brain

  • Intellectual Disability (Mentally challenged / Mental Sub normality / Mental Retardation / Mental Deficiency)
  • Autism
  • Learning Disability
  • Cerebral Palsy*

  • Related to Body and Sensory Functions

  • Cerebral Palsy*
  • Orthopedically Handicapped/Loco motor Disabilities
  • Visual Impairment
  • Hearing Impairment

  •   * Cerebral Palsy is included in both the categories because sometimes in this condition, both body & intellect is affected.

    Above mentioned conditions fall in to broad types and are discussed at length covering medical, educational and social aspects. (Conditions like Juvenile Diabetes, Muscular Dystrophy,
    Thalassemia, Cancer etc. primarily require medical treatment / management and are not discussed in this guide).

    Disability can also be classified as

  • Congenital (Present from birth) or Acquired (Due to disease, accident.)
  • Visible (E.g. Physical Disability) or Hidden (E.g. Learning Disability)
  • Static (Is same throughout) or Progressive (The disability deteriorates over the period of time)
  • According to the Degree- Mild, Moderate or Severe

  • Many times, parents fail to identify their child’s disability, especially when it is not visible,
    e.g. - hearing impairment. Thus, it is not treated in time. This hampers the speech development of the child, which is primarily dependent on hearing.
    Therefore, it becomes imperative that the parents are observant in the early stages of child development so that early intervention can take place.

    How can a parent know that their child is ‘at risk’?


    • Delayed Milestones
      Milestones are the stages of expected physical and mental development of a child at a particular age. e. g. a child learns to sit when he is seven months old.

    • Inappropriate Responses
      Reactions, which are not right in a particular situation e.g. a hearing impaired child, will not be affected by loud noise of crackers.

    • Maladaptive behaviour
      Behaviour which is detrimental to the well being of a child e.g. a child engages in physically harmful, dangerous activities not for the sake of fun or thrill of it, but he does not understand or consider the possible consequences.

      Remember these above characteristics are just the pointers. Not necessary that they are sure indicators of a child being special. Once you have any reason for doubt about your child's development depending upon the problem or condition, you should consult a doctor as soon as possible.


    Prevention -
    Many times disability can be prevented in the prenatal and early childhood period by following precautionary measures like taking good care of health through proper nutrition, sanitation and immunisation. 'Prevention is better than Cure' holds true.

    Intervention -
    “At Risk” babies can be monitored since there is a possibility of disability developing at later stage. It is always advisable to take early action for better results.
    'A stitch in time saves nine'.

    Remediation -
    The corrective measures to compensate the disability are to be implemented consistently for the results to be seen.

    Rehabilitation -
    Aims at enabling the person to cope and realise his/her potential to the maximum. Medical treatment, rehabilitation and support services are of utmost importance to improve the Quality Of Life (QOL) of the person with disability.


    Caution: Caution: - There are no short cuts involved in the process. The only route is through consistent medical, educational and emotional management and hard work. By-passing them and turning to other avenues for miracle cure etc. eventually results in disappointment.

    Developmental Milestones Chart