What is Cognitive Disability?

The concept of Cognitive Disability is very broad, with a variety of medical conditions affecting the cognitive ability of a person, including: various intellectual or cognitive deficits (e.g. intellectual disability), various specific conditions (e.g. specific learning disability), and problems acquired later in life through acquired brain injuries or neurodegenerative diseases like dementia. In loose terms, a person with a cognitive disability has greater difficulty with completing one or more types of mental tasks than the average person. This reduced cognitive capacity may impact on the adaptive behaviour, the intellectual functional performance and/or on the learning abilities of the person. Adaptive behaviour refers to an individual\s ability to apply social and practical skills in everyday life. Intellectual functioning refers to a person’s ability to plan, comprehend, and reason. Intellectual disability usually appears before the age of 18 and it is assessed by an intelligence test. Learning abilities are considered reduced when a person has difficulty learning in a typical manner, without excluding the ability to learn in a different manner.


Video explanations of cognitive disabilities, with accent on the intellectual disability:

(1) Bethesha Institute – What is Intellectual Disability?

(2) Taylor Study Method – Intellectual Disability.

(3) Collen McBrien – Intellectual Disabilities.


Examples of what people with cognitive disabilities experience in everyday life:

(1) Interviews with people who experience cognitive disabilities about ways to make voting information and directions more accessible to voters with disabilities.

(2) Angelique Speight – A day in the life of an individual with intellectual disability.



  1. Web Accessibility in Mind (WebAIM), Cognitive Disabilities. Url:
  2. Allen CK, Austin SL, David SK, Earhart CA, McCraith DB, Riska-Williams L. A screening assessment of global cognitive capacities that impact functional performance and learning abilities. ACLS and LACLS Committee, Camarillo, CA, USA, 2007. Url:
  3. Johansson M. Cognitive impairment and its consequences in everyday life. Linköping University, 2015. Url: