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What is a visible disability?

Updated July 19, 2017

A disability is a condition or function judged to be significantly impaired in comparison to the accepted standard of the average healthy individual, according to the website Disabled World. A visual disability is an impaired condition or function that is noticeable to others.

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Different types of visible disabilities include mobility impairment, physical disability, vision impairment and varieties of cognitive impairment. Each of these host a list of more specific conditions displaying similar characteristics.


People with visible disabilities may face obstacles including limited access to employment, lack of social networks, overprotection by family and friends, social ignorance, inaccessible facilities, transportation accessibility problems, underestimated ability by society, plus many more difficulties that make it challenging to live with a visible disability.


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, approximately one in five Americans reported having a disability in 2005. From this 19 per cent, 12 per cent reported having a severe, often visible, disability.

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About the Author

Samantha Martin has been writing since 1999, specializing in outdoor recreation, home-and-garden and photography, among other topics. Her work appears in a variety of publications, including "OUR HOMES Magazine" and various daily and community newspapers throughout Canada. Martin holds a Bachelor of Journalism from Ryerson University.

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