What is a Disability?

Disability: Defined

Federal nondiscrimination laws define disability as a condition that can substantially impact a major life activity, such as your ability to:

  • breathe
  • hear
  • learn
  • perform manual tasks
  • see
  • speak 
  • take care of yourself
  • walk
  • work

It could include conditions like:

  • attention deficit disorders (e.g., ADHD)
  • autism spectrum disorder 
  • chronic medical conditions
  • learning disabilities
  • mental health disorders
  • neurological disorders
  • orthopedic conditions
  • sensory conditions (hearing/vision)
  • traumatic brain injury
  • long COVID

Disability rights are also afforded to people with record of such condition(s), or who are presumed to have such a condition. 

New York State Human Rights Law defines disability in a similar, but more broad manner than the ADA. Unlike federal law, there is no requirement that the condition "substantially limit a major life activity."

Next Steps

If you have concerns about accessing Cornell classes, programs, services, etc., due to a disability or possible disability, please consider contacting our office to meet with someone to discuss options.

If you would like to request disability services or accommodations, please follow the steps to register with our office.

Applicable Laws