A disability is typically defined as a health condition or problem that has a degree of permanence and impairs one’s ability to carry out day-to-day activities. A disability is created when this impairment comes up against a disabling environment. A disability is also shaped by physical, institutional and social barriers, including attitudes and assumptions about differences and impairments. 

Disabilities can be temporary, permanent or chronic. 

Every disability is unique to the individual experiencing it. Roughly 4.4 million Canadians have some sort of disability. 

People with disabilities who are also marginalized by class, racism, gender homophobia or transphobia face additional barriers. 

Some are born with a disabling condition, like spina bifida. Others acquire a disability, like diabetes, over the course of their lifetime. Still others become disabled as a result of an accident. Many Canadians experience disabling conditions like hearing impairment or cardio-vascular issues as they age. There is a long list of conditions affecting a worker’s ability to work that can be considered a disability.

What is a disability?