IATE Term of the Week: Disability


According to the DDA (Disability Discrimination Act, 1995), disability refers to “a physical or mental impairment which has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on a person’s ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities”.

In the past, disability has been treated differently from now. In fact, people with physical, sensory or mental disabilities were previously restricted from conducting a normal routine or being involved in social activities because of that particular dysfunction.

According to Lawson (2005), traditionally, policies concerning mobility tools (for instance, wheelchairs, walking sticks or guide dogs), assistive technologies and rehabilitative programmes were managed and provided by people without disabilities with the assumption that people with disabilities would be passive receivers with little decisional power.

Furthermore, disability could lead to the segregation of people affected through special policies where they are cut off from the rest of society: for instance, depending on the degree of disability, in the employment sector. In fact, these policies tried to introduce specific employment arrangements with the belief presuming that people with disabilities were not able to work in certain environments.

However, in the second half of the ‘70s, disability activists started to protest to remove any kind of barriers claiming their rights, as we can see in the following speech held by the Union of Physically Impaired Against Segregation (UPIAS 1976, p.3):

“In our view, it is society which disables… Disability is something imposed on top of our impairments, by the way we are unnecessarily isolated and excluded from full participation in society. Disabled people are therefore an oppressed group in society.”

This issue began to be perceived by the EU institutions, through the creation of the first European Disabled People’s Parliament in 1993, which encouraged more inclusive policies and which fought to recognize the same value of people without and with disabilities.

Nowadays, the EU still continues to support and to improve conditions for an active inclusion, an equal access to resources and a full participation of people with disabilities, accordingly with EU human rights.

For instance, the European Commission outlined the European Disability Strategy 2010-2020, a programme which attempts to achieve satisfactory results in eight fields: accessibility, participation, equality, employment, education and training, social protection, health and external action.

Worth mentioning is the pilot project carried out by the EU in some member countries concerning travelling for people with disabilities through the creation of the EU Disability Card. This card allows them to travel around Europe taking advantage of special offers regarding culture, sport, leisure and transport.

To conclude, both the multilingual term base IATE and the upcoming IATE 2 (which will be available from autumn 2018) include terms regarding disability as we can see in this example below:

We hope you enjoyed our article – discover another IATE term with us next Friday!


Written by Charline Kanza– Terminology Study Visitor at the Terminology Coordination Unit of the European Parliament (Luxembourg) and a student of the Master´s Programme in Learning and Communication in Multilingual and Multicultural Contexts at the University of Luxembourg. She was born in Italy and she has origins from the Democratic Republic of Congo. She holds a BA in Foreign Languages and Cultures in Tourism and International Trade from the University of Verona. Besides Italian, she also speaks English, French, German and a little bit of  Swahili and Lingala.