There is no single legal definition of “disability.” The legal definition of a disability varies from country to country, and even within different United States laws.
ADA & Social Security
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) defines a person with a disability as someone who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activity. A condition does not have to be severe or permanent to be a disability. On the other hand, Social Security disability defines a disabled individual as someone with an impairment, either medical, psychological, or psychiatric in nature, that keeps them from being able to do a substantial amount of work for at least 12 months.
One thing that all definitions agree upon is that “disability” is different from “inability.” For example, if you are able to run but not able to run a marathon, you have an inability to run marathons, not a disability. You can still perform major life activities without running a marathon and can hold a job, though maybe not in the field of long-distance running.
Accommodations by Employer
If one of the requirements for a job is that someone flies internationally, and you are terrified of airplanes, you should probably look for a position that does not require international travel. Although fear of flying could rise to a psychiatric condition and companies are required by the ADA to make reasonable accommodations, there is no reasonable way to travel across oceans without flying: ships are just too slow and infrequent.
On the other hand, if you have a temporary or permanent disability that prevents you from walking up and down stairs, a company might easily make reasonable accommodations. For example, if the building does not have elevators, they could ensure that your office is on the ground floor; or they could allow you to telecommute from home or another accessible location.
That is where I come in. When you are applying for a position with a company, honesty in your resumes and your job search—about your skills, education, accomplishments, and abilities—is very important.
At Robin’s Resumes®, we monitor the current regulations related to employment so that we can craft a resume that makes the most of all your abilities.