The word disability now covers a plethora of different people’s needs including people’s mental health needs.

There is also a term called invisible disability which focus’s more specifically on a disability that you cannot always see.

This means that there are no visible supports to indicate a disability like a cane, wheelchair etc.

Deaf people are included in this definition and it can often mean that serving deaf people can be a challenge as you are not always aware of their needs from the outset.

One of the challenges is that with like every definition – it is quite a wide ranging group of people:

Psychiatric disabilities

Traumatic brain injury




Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Cystic fibrosis

Attention deficit disorder

Learning disabilities

Medical conditions associated that include short or long term, stable or progress, constant or predictable and fluctuating, controlled by medication or untreatable.

As you can see by this description, it can cover all sorts of needs. I have arthritis, so does that mean that my medical condition is long term, constant and controlled by medication and I am therefore included in this term?

We can both see that the way in which you serve a deaf person is not at all consistent in how we would provide services to someone with arthritis.

Yes they are both hidden, but the access needs are worlds apart.

This shows that despite the theory of grouping people together – the labelling individuals in wide ranging groups actually counteracts focusing on individuals needs.

Sometimes these definitions don’t actually help.  We are much better looking an individual’s needs but simply asking people how they wish to be served/communicated with.

I am sure that we would all argue that we are different, an individual in our own right and would not want to be groups with others that are loosely similar.