Sample Lesson – Understanding Disabilities and Inclusion

Types of Disabilities

Disabilities can be thought of in terms of how they affect one’s ability to interact with the world around them. A physical disability is usually the easiest to identify because we can see someone using a wheelchair or other mobility aid. It is harder to recognize people with cognitive, sensory or mental health conditions.

It is important to remember that many disabilities fall under multiple categories. For example, someone with a traumatic head injury might suffer from headaches and difficulty with speaking or writing, as well as emotional changes. Mental health illnesses like anxiety and depression affect employees in different ways, these are still considered disabilities and impact over 2 million Canadians. Here are some types of disabilities:

Physical Disability

May temporarily or permanently affect a person’s mobility. The individual could potentially benefit from support aids.

Cerebral palsy
Loss of limb

Cognitive Disability

May mean a person faces unique challenges communicating, learning and retaining information. They may need assistance with social skills.

Autism spectrum disorder
Down syndrome

Sensory Disability

Affects one or more of a person’s senses: sight, hearing, smell, touch, taste or spatial awareness.

Sensory processing disorder

Mental Health

Mental illness affects our emotional, psychological and social well-being. It can determine how we handle stress, relate to others and make choices in our daily life.

Anxiety disorders
Post-traumatic stress disorder
Bipolar disorder

Over 1.1 million Canadian adults reported a learning disability. Learning disabilities are non-apparent and you may have coworkers or staff who have not disclosed them.

Read the following scenario and answer the questions below.


Rod has early onset Parkinson’s disease, and he is working as an accountant in Nanaimo. His disability affects his mobility. He has tremors, stiffness in limbs and slowed movement. He found it difficult to get to and from work.

He also found his work environment uncomfortable and difficult to maneuver around. He spoke to his employer and they agreed to let Rod work from home.