4120.0 - Disability and Handicap, Australia, 1988  
Latest ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 24/10/1990   
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  • Glossary



An activity comprises one or more tasks. In this survey, tasks were associated with a set of nine activities as follows:

  • self care;
  • mobility;
  • verbal communication;
  • health care;
  • home help;
  • home maintenance;
  • meals;
  • personal affairs;
  • transport.


    A device or appliance used by a person with a disability or a person aged 60 years or more, to help with performing tasks. It is not help provided by a person or an organisation.


    In this survey, disability was defined as the presence of one or more of the following impairments, conditions or limitations,

    which restricted ability to perform an action,and had lasted, or were likely to last, for a period of six months or more:
  • loss of sight (even when wearing glasses or contact lenses);
  • loss of hearing;
  • speech difficulties in native language(s);
  • blackouts, fits, or loss of consciousness;
  • slowness at learning or understanding;
  • incomplete use of arms or fingers;
  • incomplete use of feet or legs;
  • long term treatment for nerves or an emotional condition;
  • restriction in physical activities or in doing physical work;
  • disfigurement or deformity;
  • a mental illness requiring help or supervision;
  • long term treatment or medication (but was still restricted in some way by the condition being treated).

    Disabling condition

    Any condition which caused one or more of the disabilities or impairments listed under Disability. Conditions have been grouped into broad types and only published at this level.

    Employment limitation

    This information was collected for disabled people living in households who were: aged 15 to 20 years and not attending school; or aged 21 to 64 years; and who met one or more of the following criteria:
    • permanently unable to work;
    • restricted in type of work could do;
    • often needs time off work;
    • restricted in number of hours could work;
    • would require employer to make special arrangements; or
    • limited in prospects of obtaining, keeping or changing jobs.

    Formal help

    Assistance provided to a person with a disability by:
  • organisations (profit/non-profit, government or private);
  • individuals on a professional basis e.g. landlords or volunteers; or
  • family, friends or neighbours, on a regular, paid basis.


    A person is handicapped if they have a disability which limits their ability to perform certain tasks associated with self care, mobility, verbal communication, schooling and/or employment. In this survey, the measurement of handicap was restricted to people aged 5 years or over. For details of the specific criteria used, see Self care handicap, Mobility handicap, Verbal communication handicap, Schooling limitation and Employment limitation.

    Health care

    This activity includes:
  • foot care;
  • taking medication; and
  • dressing wounds.

    Home help

    This activity includes light and heavy housework such as laundry, vacuuming and cleaning windows.

    Home maintenance

    This activity includes gardening and home maintenance tasks such as changing light bulbs, mowing lawns, and carrying

    out minor repairs.


    A household consists of a person, or group of people who usually live together or who have common eating arrangements. Boarders who receive accommodation and meals with other people in the household are treated as part of that household.

    Lodgers who are provided with accommodation only are treated as separate households.

    Income unit

    Relates to people living in households only. Income units are comprised of:
    • married couples (husband, wife (or de facto couple) and dependant children;
    • one parent and at least one dependant child; or
    • a single person.

    Mobility handicap

    Comprises difficulties in performing one or more of the following tasks;
    • using public transport
    • moving around inside or outside the home/establishment;
    • transferring to or from a bed or chair
    • walking 200 metres; or
    • walking up and down stairs without a handrail.

    Moderate handicap

    See Severity of handicap.

    Personal affairs

    This activity includes financial management and writing letters. Financial management covers day-to-day activities such as keeping track of expenses and paying bills. Writing letters includes drafting and writing correspondence.

    Primary disabling condition

    The condition that causes the most problems, for a person with a disability. Where only one condition is reported, this is assumed to be the primary disabling condition.

    Schooling limitation

    This information was collected for disabled people living in households who were: aged 5 to 14 years; or aged 15 to 20 years and still attending school; and who, because of their disability, met one or more of the following criteria:
    • unable to attend school;
    • attending a special school;
    • attending special classes in an ordinary school;
    • needs time off from school; or
    • has difficulty at school.

    Self care handicap

    Comprises difficulties in performing one or more of the following tasks;
    • showering or bathing;
    • dressing; or
    • eating.

    People were also asked about difficulties with toileting, but this information was not used to determine handicap.

    Severity of handicap

    Three levels of severity (severe, moderate and mild) were determined for self care, mobility and verbal communication. These levels were based on the person's ability to perform tasks relevant to these areas and on the amount and type of help required. The levels of severity were determined as follows:
    • severe handicap - personal help or supervision required or the person is unable to perform one or more of the specified tasks;
    • moderate handicap - no personal help or supervision required, but the person has difficulty in performing one or more of the specified tasks;
    • mild handicap - no personal help or supervision required and no difficulty in performing any of the specified tasks, but the person uses an aid, or has difficulty walking 200 metres or up and down stairs without a handrail.

    The highest level of severity in any one of the areas of self care, mobility or verbal communication determines the overall severity of handicap.

    Severity of handicap was not determined for people who had a schooling and/or employment limitation only; or for children under 5 years of age.


    This activity relates to using public transport, shopping and the need to be driven.

    Verbal communication handicap

    Comprises difficulties in performing one or more of the following tasks, in the person's native language:
  • understanding family or friends;
  • understanding strangers;
  • being understood by family or friends;
  • being understood by strangers.