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Different Types of Handicaps

author image Janelle Vaesa
Janelle Vaesa received her Master of Public Health degree in 2008 and Bachelor of Science in health and human performance in 2006, both from the University of Louisville. Vaesa has worked in a variety of settings, focusing on improving the health of clients. Vaesa began running in 2000 and in 2005 began racing in triathlons.
Different Types of Handicaps
A handicapped woman with her wheelchair. Photo Credit: John Rowley/Photodisc/Getty Images

There were 23.3 million males and 27.3 females living in the U.S. with some type of disability in 2008, reports the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A disability or handicap can affect a person's cognitive ability or physical ability. There are many services and laws in place to support those with disabilities so they are able to participate in the same activities as those of able-bodied people.

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Vision Impairment

When eye glasses, contacts, medications and surgery do not improve vision, a person is considered to have a vision impairment, according to MedlinePlus. Vision impairments can range from having some ability to see and to complete blindness. According to MedlinePlus, the most common reasons for vision impairment in the U.S. are age-related eye diseases such as glaucoma, macular degenerative disease and cataracts. Some eye diseases can be prevented with regular eye exams and medical treatment. In some cases, people can preserve their eye sight or slow the progression of the disease. The severity of vision loss determines what types of services a person needs to perform daily activities.

Hearing Loss

Hearing loss can occur in babies as a result of genetic factors or during birth if the baby does not receive enough oxygen or has bleeding in the brain. Meningitis, measles or chronic ear infections can cause hearing loss in children and adults, reports the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Injuries and loud noises can also damage a person's hearing. When a child has hearing loss, it can affect speech and social development. Babies who receive interventions before 6 months of age have a better chance at developing speech and social skills. Children should have their hearing tested before entering school. Adults 18 to 50 should be tested every 10 years. Adults older than 50 should be tested more often.


Paralysis is the loss of muscle function that occurs when messages from the brain to the muscles do not relay correctly. This can be caused by a stroke, spinal cord injury, a broken neck, autoimmune diseases, nervous system diseases and Bell's palsy. Those with paralysis will require medical care, physical and occupational therapy, social and emotional support and assisted technology devices to be able to function. The severity of the paralysis and the muscles involved will dictate the amount of care the person will need.

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