Whilst the American Disability Act defines a disability as a person “with a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities”, the Australian Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) defines disability more comprehensively.
‘Disability’, under the Australian DDA in relation to a person, means:
- total or partial loss of the person’s bodily or mental functions; or
- total or partial loss of a part of the body; or
- the presence in the body of organisms causing disease or illness; or
- the presence in the body of organisms capable of causing disease or illness; or
- the malfunction, malformation or disfigurement of a part of the person’s body; or
- a disorder or malfunction that results in the person learning differently from a person without the disorder or malfunction; or
- a disorder, illness or disease that affects a person’s thought processes, perception of reality, emotions or judgment or that results in disturbed behaviour;
It also includes a disability that presently exists; or previously existed but no longer exists; or may exist in the future; or is imputed to a person.
In preparing this Guide the definition of impairment provided by the Australian Emergency Management Institute is considered, which states an impairment is:
An illness, injury or congenital condition that causes, or is likely to cause, a long-term effect on physical appearance and/or limitation of function within the individual that differs from the commonplace. Some people may have more than one impairment.
 Australian Emergency Management Institute 2013, Communicating with People with Disability: National Guidelines for Emergency Managers Handbook 5, http://www.ag.gov.au/EmergencyManagement/Tools-and-resources/Publications/Documents/Handbook-series/handbook-5-communicating-with-people-with-disability.pdf, viewed 27 August 2015