You’re disabled under the Equality Act 2010 if you have a physical or mental impairment that has a ‘substantial’ and ‘long-term’ negative effect on your ability to do normal daily activities.
A progressive condition is a condition that gets worse over time. People with progressive conditions can be classed as disabled. However, you automatically meet the disability definition under the Equality Act 2010 from the day you’re diagnosed with HIV infection, cancer or multiple sclerosis.
Some conditions aren’t covered by the disability definition. These include addiction to non–prescribed drugs or alcohol.
The way we (and others) regard disability can have a fundamental effect on what we are prepared to do, and why, in overcoming the difficulties that disabled people face on a day-to-day basis.
It can also have a determining influence on our language when we talk about disability, impairment etc.
There are several 'definitions' of disability that we can use. The DDA definition is the perhaps the most obvious which defines disability as:- 'a physical or mental impairment that has a long-term, substantial, adverse effect on the ability to perform day-to-day activities.' But this is by no means the only definition.
The two most common ways of looking at disability are usually referred to as the 'medical' and 'social' models.
Under the medical model, disability is defined with reference to what is 'wrong' with the person: how they are thought to differ from the 'norm' that is accepted by society as a whole. 'Disability' and 'impairment' become interchangeable and are used to describe the 'medical' condition that someone is said to have.
The social model of disability is different - it does distinguish between impairment and disability.
Impairment in this context is described as a characteristic or long term attribute of someone.
This may or may not result from an injury or disease and which may affect that person's appearance or the functioning of their mind or body and which may cause pain or fatigue and may affect communication and/or reduce consciousness.
The social model locates the blame for the barriers facing people with impairments clearly with those who erect the barriers.