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Disability remains to be a subjective term and is usually determined on a case to case basis. According to Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), § 35.108 categorizes and defines disability with respect to an individual as:

  1. Actual disability - An individual having physical or mental impairment that substantially limits his one or more major life activities;
  2. Record of disability - An individual having a history or record of such impairments;
  3. Regarded as disabled - An Individual who is regarded to have these impairments. 

Physical impairments may include but not be limited to cerebral palsy, visual impairments, hearing impairments, muscular dystrophy. Similarly, mental impairments include but are not limited to mental illness, difficulties with learning, and developmental impairments. For the purpose of this definition, major life activities may include performing daily tasks such as eating, hearing, walking, seeing, bending, learning, speaking, etc.

The law remains very strict towards discrimination against people with disabilities. ADA ensures equal treatment for disabled people whether it is employment, transportation, access to state & federal programs and services, etc.

Disability in a legal sense is often used in contracts which means a lack of legal capacity to enter a contract due to either being a minor, or experiencing a serious physical or mental impairment. 

[Last updated in July of 2021 by the Wex Definitions Team]