Terminology in the guidelines 1. 4.

Author: Jasna Vešligaj Damiš

Keywords: handicapped, disability, disabled person

For the purpose of these guidelines we used the terms person with disability and athlete with disability. Athletes with disability are people with a disability who engage in sports and are able to compete in sports at elite levels. They can also practice almost any sports and sometimes need adapted equipment (Ferrara & Peterson, 2000). As we realize that the language used is very important in terms of attitudes and beliefs we chose to emphasise the person rather than the disability placing the word person first.

We also present a table differentiating the terms disabled and handicapped person. We did not decide to use the term handicapped for the reasons stated below in the table:




Disability means the inability of a person to perform his/her routine actions.

Handicap means the difficulty experienced by a person in performing his/her tasks.

Core difference

Disability is being completely unable to perform a function.

Handicap is a partial disability.


Disability is mostly associated with the medical condition of not being able to perform a task.

Handicap could also mean a disadvantage imposed in a professional sport.


Disabilities of various kinds such as physical, sensory, intellectual, mental, emotional, etc.

Handicap related to medical conditions such as being physically, mentally handicapped et al., and handicap in terms of sports such as golf handicap, chess handicap, tennis handicap, etc.

Diplomatic accuracy

More acceptable as compared to ‘handicap’.

Regarded as being offensive to people suffering from conditions of impairment or disability.

Table 1: Difference between Disability and Handicap (http://www.differencebetween.info/difference-between-disability-and-handicap, 18.9.2018)

A disability is an impairment that may be cognitive, developmental, intellectual, mental, physical, sensory, or some combination of these. It substantially affects a person's life activities and may be present from birth or occur during a person's lifetime (Tanaka & Seals, 2003).

We refer to disability as normal part of human life and experience that can occur. However there are many definitions and different ways of describing the term. We have chosen the World Health Organization (2018) definition: “Disability is an umbrella term, covering impairments, activity limitations, and participation restrictions. Impairment is a problem in body function or structure; an activity limitation is a difficulty encountered by an individual in executing a task or action; while a participation restriction is a problem experienced by an individual in involvement in life situations. Disability is thus not just a health problem. It is a complex phenomenon, reflecting the interaction between features of a person’s body and features of the society in which he or she lives.” — World Health Organization, Disabilities. Writing these Guidelines we have followed the description of WHO as this is the definition we support and think is the most appropriate and politically correct. It gives a vast and correct perception of the topic and issues explored.


Ferrara M.S. & Peterson C.L. (2000). Injuries to athletes with disabilities: identifying injury patterns. Sports Medicine; 30(2):137-43.

Tanaka, H. & Seals, D. (2003). Invited Review: Dynamic exercise performance in Masters athletes: insight into the effects of primary human aging on physiological functional capacity. J Appl Physiol.; 95(5): 2152–2162. pmid: 14555676

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... “Disabilities”. World Health Organization. Retrieved 6.5.2018

http://www.differencebetween.info/difference-between-disability-and-handicap. Retrieved 18.9.2018