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Glossary of Disability Terms

Below are the terms often used in the disability community.

Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)

A brain injury from externally inflicted trauma.  The primary causes of TBI include incidents involving motor vehicles, falls, acts of violence and sports injuries. TBI can range from mild (concussions) to severe, with outcomes ranging from a few symptoms to lifelong impairment.

Tuberous Sclerosis

Genetic condition that produces abnormal growths in the body from birth throughout life. Symptoms may include seizure disorder, intellectual impairment, behavior problems, white skin patch, and facial rash.

Universal Design

An approach to accessibility that concentrates on making all aspects of an environment accessible to all people, regardless of their level of ability. Examples of universal design include lever handles rather than round door knobs for doors; lower light switches; water controls located towards the outside of the tub; adjustable closet rods and shelves; dual-height water fountains; playground equipment accessible to all children, including those who use wheelchairs; and household items (e.g., microwave ovens, televisions, radios) with touch-sensitive controls.

Universal Design for Learning (UDL)

a framework for designing curricula that enable all individuals to gain knowledge, skills, and enthusiasm for learning. UDL provides rich supports for learning and reduces barriers to the curriculum while maintaining high achievement standards for all.

Unserved and Underserved

The term "unserved and underserved" includes populations such as individuals from racial and ethnic minority backgrounds, disadvantaged individuals, individuals with limited English proficiency, individuals from underserved geographic areas (rural or urban), and specific groups of individuals within the population of individuals with developmental disabilities, including individuals who require assistive technology in order to participate in and contribute to community life. (114 STAT. 1682 PUBLIC LAW 106–402—OCT. 30, 2000)

Video Relay Service (VRS)

A videoconferencing application for computers with a video system. The American Sign Language (ASL) user can dial Relay North Carolina and have a certified interpreter appear on his or her computer. The ASL user communicates to the interpreter through the video while the interpreter dials out to the hearing party and relays the call.


Programs that allow people to receive Medicaid long-term care services in the community.

Workplace Accommodations

Modifications or adjustments to the work environment or the manner of circumstances under which the position held or desired is customarily performed, that enable a qualified individual with a disability to perform the essential functions of that position.

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North Carolina Council on Developmental Disabilities

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