NOTES ON DISABILITIES REPRESENTED IN THE ROADMAPS STUDENTS
The international symbol of disability - a gender-free wheelchair rider
- is a valuable symbol used to indicate quickly and clearly that entrances
and exits, restrooms, parking spaces, public accommodations, and transportation
are accessible. However, it has led most people to associate the term
"disability" with severe conditions that are readily apparent. This is
a common misconception, and it misrepresents the very wide range of disabilities,
visible and invisible, experienced by 52 million Americans. The Roadmaps
students, with their spectrum of disabilities, illustrate and reinforce
that point. In addition to the brief definitions provided here, individual
profiles include more detailed descriptions of less well known disabilities.
It is important to remember that disabilities vary greatly from individual
to individual, so two individuals with the same disability label may have
different levels of function and require different accommodations.
- Asthma. A chronic lung disease that involves periods of breathlessness,
labored breathing, wheezing, and other symptoms that can occur in children
and adults. Symptoms can vary spontaneously but can be well controlled
with medical treatment.
- Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). A condition
that usually involves inattention, impulsivity, or hyperactivity that
adversely affects an individual's ability to function in school and
other settings. ADHD can occur in children and adults.
- Blindness. A visual acuity not greater than 20/200 in the better
eye with corrective lenses, or a visual field not subtending an angle
greater than 20 degrees.
- Retinoblastoma. The most common form of eye cancer in children
and one cause of blindness, it occurs in about 1 out of every 15,000
- Cancer. A general term for more than 100 different diseases
that involve abnormal growth of cells that invade and destroy nearby
normal tissue and often spread to other parts of the body.
- Celiac Sprue. A metabolic disorder caused by sensitivity to
gluten, a protein found in wheat and certain other grains. It impairs
absorption of food in the digestive track resulting in abdominal bloating,
weight loss, and other symptoms. Individuals with celiac disease must
avoid all foods that contain gluten.
- Cerebral Palsy. A general term for brain damage that occurs
before, during, or soon after birth that involves loss of voluntary
muscle control, often speech, and other symptoms. A person with cerebral
palsy may have a mild or significant involvement.
- Deaf and Hard of Hearing, Hearing Impairment. Terms that encompass
a range of communication disabilities, coping strategies, and lifestyles.
Hard-of-hearing individuals are those who require amplification of sounds
but can still hear conversations with their backs turned to a speaker.
Individuals who are deaf cannot hear conversation, but they may use
lipreading supplemented by auditory input from technically advanced
hearing aids or cochlear implants.
- Double-Leg Amputee. An individual whose legs are partially
or totally amputated. Generally the person wears prostheses.
- Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. The most common and severe type
of muscular dystrophy, it involves a rapidly progressive loss of muscle
function. Other types of muscular dystrophy progress more slowly.
- Dyslexia. One of the most common learning disabilities, it
usually involves difficulties with language processing that impact reading,
writing, and spelling.
- Fibrodysplasia Ossificans Progressiva (FOP). A rare genetic
disorder, also known as myositis ossificans progressiva, in which bone
forms in muscles, tendons, ligaments, and other connective tissues.
- Fibromyalgia. A condition that involves generalized aching
and pain in the neck, shoulders, arms, back, legs, and other parts of
the body, often producing additional symptoms that include fatigue.
- Friedreich's Ataxia. A hereditary nerve disease that may eventually
result in body-wide loss of muscle coordination and other problems.
- Learning Disability. Neurological disorders that interfere
with a person's ability to store, process, or produce information, creating
a gap between an individual's ability and performance. Learning disabilities
can affect reading, writing, speech, or math skills and also can impede
development of social skills. Individuals with learning disabilities
generally have normal or above-normal intelligence. They can have marked
difficulties with certain types of tasks while excelling at others.
- Low Vision. A partial loss of eyesight that cannot be corrected
fully with eyeglasses, contact lenses, surgery, or other methods. It
can range in severity from blind spots in an otherwise clear field of
vision to near-total blindness.
- Retinitis Pigmentosa. A progressive eye disease that affects
night vision and peripheral vision.
- Congenital Achromatopsia. A rare hereditary disorder that affects
color vision and usually causes extreme sensitivity to light.
- Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). A psychological disorder
that involves unwanted, recurrent thoughts, images, or impulses that
cause the individual great anxiety yet cannot be controlled. Individuals
with OCD may have obsessions such as fear of contamination and engage
in compulsions such as constant washing of the hands.
- Osteogenesis Imperfecta (OI). A hereditary disorder, sometimes
called "brittle bone disease," involving bones that break easily. It
results in many bone fractures during infancy, childhood, and adolescence,
often leaving the individual with short stature. The disability varies
- Paraplegia. Paralysis below the chest or waist that involves
the trunk and legs and usually results from spinal cord injuries in
- Quadriplegia. Paralysis from the neck down that involves both
legs, arms, and sometimes hands and usually results from accident-related
spinal cord injury.
- Single-Leg Amputee. An individual who has one leg that is either
partially or totally amputated.
- Tourette Syndrome. A hereditary neurological disorder that
involves repeated involuntary movements and uncontrollable vocal sounds
or "tics" such as barks or yelps.
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