A suffix used to form nouns that describe social, political or religious beliefs, studies or ways of behaving, e.g., sexism, feminism, ableism.

See also: ableism, ism

Favoring individuals without disabilities and viewing them as the norm/ standard.

See also: -isms

Ability to safely approach, enter, pass through, and exit an environment, such as a medical office building; to effectively communicate with someone, such as a medical doctor; or to effectively participate in something, such as a health education workshop.

See also: barriers, reasonable or readily achievable accommodations Synonyms: access

A modification or adjustment to an environment or process to allow disabled individuals to have access or use facilities or resources or information.

See also: reasonable or readily achievable accommodations, undue hardship/burden
Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

U.S. civil rights law protecting the rights of people with disabilities, passed in 1990, which addresses employment, state and city government, telecommunications, and public accommodations.

See also: reasonable or readily achievable accommodations, undue hardship/burden Synonyms: ADA, Americans with Disabilities Act

The right to act and make decisions on one’s behalf, e.g., decisions about medical care.

See also: barriers to autonomy

Anything that prevents an individual with a disability from gaining access to broader society and community resources that are available to non-disabled people.

See also: accessibility
barriers to autonomy

Anything that prevents an individual to make decisions on her/his behalf, e.g., fear or overprotective parents.

See also: autonomy
cultural competence

Adequate awareness and information that enable individuals or organizations to equally and fairly provide services to marginalized populations.

See also: disability awareness, marginalization

The act of denying an individual a gender identity because the individual has a disability.


General term for impairment, as well as lack of ability imposed by environmental or social barriers, that exclude people with impairments from participating in society in the same way as people without disabilities.

disability awareness

Training and information which improves knowledge of disability issues and increases acceptance of disabled people.

See also: cultural competence
disability positive view

Favorable or inclusive practices and attitudes towards people with disabilities.

disability stereotyping

Myths and assumptions that discriminate against people with disabilities.

disability-related equipment

Assistive devices, such as wheelchairs, crutches, canes, print-magnification machines, respirators, portable ramps, automatic doors, or accessible vehicles, that allow disabled people to function.


To deprive an individual of a right or access to something; e.g., access to equal health care.


To give power to somebody or to oneself or to enable somebody or oneself to do something.

Synonyms: empowered, empowerment, empowers
expressive and receptive communication

An exchange between at least two people that allows all participants to equally receive and express information. Information can be expressed and received in verbal, signed, or written language or through signs or behaviors.

functional needs

Needs related to the ability to perform necessary actions for daily living.

health care resources

The full range of medical services in the community.


Group insurance that entitles members to services of participating hospitals and clinics and physicians.

Synonyms: Health Maintenance Organization, HMOs

A noun that functions as a label for a belief or theory or doctrine or system. A noun used as a stand-in, so a particular belief or theory does not need to be explicitly mentioned.

See also: -isms Synonyms: isms

Handling details of an operation, e.g., organizing and implementing a group meeting.


The act of relegating individual(s) to a lower social status and excluding them from services and participation in society.

See also: cultural competence Synonyms: marginalize
medical expenditure

The amount (in money, energy, time, etc) that is spent on health care.


Specialized language (terms & words) used by medical professionals.

multiple functional limitations

An individual having more than one primary impairment, potentially resulting in many different disabilities, such as in mobility, vision, hearing, or cognitive impairment.


Personal Assistance Services.


Attitude or behavior that shows others are seen as inferiors.

places of public accommodations

All businesses, private and public, that offer or provide services to the public, including sales or retail stores, restaurants, hotels, schools, all community resources, and health care providers.

See also: Title III
positive regard

The assumption that everyone is doing the best s/he can.


Being fit to be seen by conforming to or meeting society’s standards and expectations of appearance, dress, and behavior, for example.

reasonable or readily achievable accommodations

Any modification or adjustment that can readily and safely be done and does not create a great difficulty or financial burden for the providers.

See also: accessibility, accommodation, Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), undue hardship/burden Synonyms: readily achievable accommodations, reasonable accommodations

The process by which individuals, individually and/or collectively, may work toward achieving their rights and entitlements provided by law.

somatic difference

Bodily differences.

Title III

Section of the Americans with Disabilities Act that addresses places of public accommodations.

See also: places of public accommodations
undue hardship/burden

A significant difficulty or financial expense to provide something, such as a reasonable accommodation.

See also: accommodation, Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), reasonable or readily achievable accommodations Synonyms: undue burden, undue hardship