Severly disabled


There was a question in the local paper last night that got me thinking, they have a small Q & A column with a solicitor.

A lady had bought a mobility scootor and had asked the local council if they would install a ramp because she had a step up to her front door.

They had refused on the grounds of, she was’nt in a wheelchair.

Now she discribed herself as severly disabled, she could get about but had to us a walking stick , hence the mobility scooter.

She didn’t mention any other disabilites other than mobility and having to use a stick.

So my question is when are you classed as severly disabled, I ask because I’m in wheelchair but would not class myself as severly disabled.


Hmmm tricky one that, I have to say it is all relative to a person. If I could see me now back pre MS I would think oh my goodness you are really disabled!

But now I am just a bit dodgy!! I use a wheelchair but not all the time, I use sticks all the time but can usually manage inside without too much hassle.

Severely I would think would be no use in legs and slightly dodgy arms, oh that is nearly me after all but I wouldn’t count myself that bad just yet!!!


This is just another example of the council wriggling out of doing anything which probably prompted the knee jerk reaction from the lady in question.

But no, I wouldn’t describe someone who can walk a bit “severly disbled” otherwise I’d have to apply that description to myself -NO WAY!


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I don’t think any of it’s a legal definition.

What does “disabled” even mean, without the “severely”?

I mention it, because I was filling in a form the other day, and it asked: “Do you consider yourself disabled?”

It only had boxes for YES and NO, and I realised I wanted a third box, for “don’t know”, or “undecided”.

I don’t use a stick, so am I really disabled? On the other hand, I’m not quite as adept and able-bodied as most people, and certainly don’t have as much strength and stamina, so what is that?


I recently had a course of Physio and my Physiotherapist asked me what I have around the house to make my life easier. She was thinking in terms of easy-grip cutlery and stuff like that, but was horrified that my only items are a hand grab in the downstairs loo and us paying to have our shower converted to be a wet room 3 years ago. She then got the Occupational Therapist to do a home visit, and she’s identified several areas where they could help, eg. they’re going to put a handrail on the stairs so that i’lI have both that and the bannister to hold onto. However, she also mentioned that she could provide a portable ramp to allow wheelchair access through the front door when it’s needed. She gave me a couple of catalogues to look through, and although they can’t provide anything under £25, it’s opened my eyes to what’s out there.


That was a really thought provoking question, Ronin.

I would guess that from the point of view of the council clerk dealing with the request it came down to walking.

This seems to be a criteria that a lot of non-medical officials use. In simple terms, if you can walk, you are not disabled. If you can only walk a very short distance, you may qualify for a blue Badge - and the form I had to fill in used distances in terms of bus lengths. Now that is a really scientific approach. They gave the distances in metres and bus lengths, when it could have been metres and yards. Trying to be helpfull, no doubt.

At the heart of the problem is that there are too many officials dealing with us, most of whom have no experience, and all they can do is compare the completed form with the list of criteria that they have been told to use. If all councils had to use the EDSS ( Kurtzke Expanded Disability Status Scale ) there would, at least, be some consistency. The down-side is that they would have to get the data from the health service. That could be a real beauraucratic nightmare.

Personally, I like the idea of a mobile ramp. There was a story going round about a large firm of builders who had a set of portable ramps that were put in so that the new houses met the criteria for disabled access to new houses - and which were then moved after the council had inspected the houses and noted compliance.


Disability: a loss or restriction of functional ability or activity as a result of impairment of the body or mind. (Oxford Concise Medical Dictionary)

I seem to fit into that description so would consider myself disabled (& no I’m not in a wheelchair and don’t always use a stick).

I do have a problem with the term ‘severely disabled’, as this is entirely subjective and what is severe to one person may be preceived by another as relatively minor. I recently had an ATOS medical and got sent the report which described me as ‘severely disabled mentally’ - this was based on an interview lasting 8 minutes… I personally wouldn’t have applied the word severe but as I said it is entirely subjective.