The term 'disability'

Q. What is meant by the term ‘disability' and what terms are used to describe the people affected?

The legislative understanding of the term ‘person with disability' in Sri Lanka means "any person who as a result of any deficiency in his physical or mental capacities, whether congenital or not, is unable by him/herself to ensure for him/herself, wholly or partly, the necessities of life".

The Ministry of Social Welfare classifications of disability include visual, speech, hearing, mobility, intellectual, and psychiatric disability and disability arising as a result of epilepsy and other causes. It also encompasses multiple disabilities (two or more of these various disabilities in a single individual). Census data in Sri Lanka is collected on a range of disabilities using terms which may differ from other (western) countries' terms, but which are internationally understandable.

In Sri Lanka the term Person with Disability or Child with Disability is most commonly accepted and used amongst government services and NGOs. This is sometimes abbreviated to PWD in documents – an abbreviation which we prefer not to use.

Disability FAQs for Sri Lanka