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Disability grouping code N[N]

Identifying and definitional attributes

Metadata item type:Help on this termValue Domain
Synonymous names:Help on this termDisability grouping
METeOR identifier:Help on this term288384
Registration status:Help on this termCommunity Services (retired), Superseded 08/05/2006
Definition:Help on this term

A code set representing disability groupings.

Context:Help on this termHuman functioning and disability.

Representational attributes

Representation class:Help on this termCode
Data type:Help on this termNumber
Format:Help on this termN[N]
Maximum character length:Help on this term2
Permissible values:Help on this term
11Developmental delay
13Specific learning/ADD
31Deafblind (dual sensory)
32Vision (sensory)
33Hearing (sensory)
42Acquired brain injury
Supplementary values:Help on this term
99Disability group not yet classified

Collection and usage attributes

Guide for use:Help on this term

Disability groupings constitute a broad categorisation of disabilities in terms of the underlying health condition, impairment, activity limitations, participation restrictions, environmental factors and support needs. The grouping that most clearly expresses the experience of disability of a person.

Disability is the umbrella term for any or all of: an impairment of body structure or function, a limitation in activities, or a restriction in participation. Disability is defined in terms of three components: 'Body functions and structures', 'Activities and Participation' and 'Environmental factors'.

This metadata item may be used as a basis for the broad description of similar experiences of disability and patterns of impairments, activity limitations, participation restrictions, support needs and related health conditions. 'Disability group' is not a diagnostic grouping, and there is not a one-to-one correspondence between a health condition and a disability group. Where a precise diagnosis is to be recorded, Episode of care—principal diagnosis, code (ICD-10-AM 3rd edn) ANN{.N[N]} and Episode of care—additional diagnosis, code (ICD-10-AM 3rd edn) ANN{.N[N]} may be used. The collection of data on disability-related metadata items and diagnosis, together, allows the relationship of the components of disability and related health conditions to be more thoroughly explored.

Consumer groups, service providers and governments may use these groupings to make national and international comparisons.

The higher level grouping below, represented by the four terms: 'intellectual', 'psychiatric' 'sensory' and 'physical', is used in many of the international categorisations of disability, for instance the Standard Rules on the Equalization of Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities endorsed by the United Nations in 1994. The more detailed grouping below reflects terms used nationally in Australia by peak bodies, people with disabilities and by disability administrations. It is used in the main administrative data collection in the Australian disability services sector (i.e. the Commonwealth State/Territory Disability Agreement National Minimum Data Set (CSTDA NMDS)). The two levels of grouping are included in this metadata item to facilitate national and international comparisons.

The experience of disability is complex and multi-dimensional. It can be described using impairments of structure and/or function, patterns of activity limitation, participation restrictions, environmental factors and support needs.

Each of these dimensions can inform the decision on which group to use.

CODE 1     Intellectual/learning disability

Is associated with impairment of intellectual functions with limitations in a range of daily activities and restriction in participation in a range of life areas. Supports may be needed throughout life, the level of support tends to be consistent over a period of time but may change in association with changes in life circumstances.
This grouping includes:

CODE 11    Developmental delay

Is applicable to children aged 0-5 only. Conditions appearing in the early developmental period, with no specific diagnosis.

CODE 12    Intellectual disability

Applies to conditions appearing in the developmental period (age 0-18) associated with impairment of mental functions, difficulties in learning and performing certain daily life skills and limitation of adaptive skills in the context of community environments compared to others of the same age. Intellectual disability may be associated with Down Syndrome, tuberous sclerosis, cri-du-chat syndrome etc.

CODE 13    Specific learning

Is a general term referring to a group of disorders, presumed due to central nervous system dysfunction rather than an intellectual disability, covering significant difficulties in the acquisition and use of listening, speaking, reading, writing, reasoning or mathematical skills. Specific learning may be associated with Attention Deficit Disorder.

CODE 14    Autism

Is used to describe pervasive developmental disorder involving disturbances in cognition, interpersonal communication, social interactions and behaviour (in particular obsessional, ritualistic, stereotyped and rigid behaviours).

CODE 2     Psychiatric disability

Is associated with clinically recognisable symptoms and behaviour patterns frequently associated with distress that may impair personal functioning in normal social activity. Impairments of global or specific mental functions may be experienced, with associated activity limitations and participation restrictions in a range of areas. Supports needed may vary in range, and may be required with intermittent intensity during the course of the condition. Change in level of supports tends to be related to changes in the extent of impairment and the environment. Psychiatric disability may be associated with schizophrenias, affective disorders, anxiety disorders, addictive behaviours personality disorders, stress, psychosis, depression and adjustment disorders.

CODE 3     Sensory/speech disability includes

Is associated with impairment of the eye, ear and related structures and of speech, structures and functions. Extent of impairment, and activity limitation may remain consistent for long periods.Activity limitations may occur in a range of areas, for instance communication and mobility.

Availability of a specific range of environmental factors will affect the level of disability experienced by people in this grouping. Once in place, the level of support tends to be relatively consistent. This grouping includes:

CODE 31    Deafblind

Is used to describe dual sensory impairments causing severe restrictions in communication, and in the ability to participate in community life.

CODE 32    Vision disability

Encompasses blindness and vision impairment (not corrected by glasses or contact lenses), which can cause severe restrictions in communication, and in the ability to participate in community life.

CODE 33    Hearing disability

Encompasses deafness, hearing impairment, and hearing loss, which can cause severe restrictions in communication, and in the ability to participate in community life.

CODE 34    Speech disability

Encompasses speech loss, impairment and/or difficulty in communication which can cause severe restrictions in communication, and in the ability to participate in community life.

CODE 4     Physical/diverse disability

Is associated with the presence of an impairment, which may have diverse effects within and among individuals, including effects on physical activities such as mobility. The range and extent of activity limitation and participation restriction will vary with the extent of impairment and the environment. Environmental factors and support needs are related to areas of activity limitation and participation restriction, and may be required for long periods. Level of supports may vary with both life changes and extent of impairment. This frouping includes: 

CODE 41    Physical disability

Is used to describe conditions that are attributable to a physical cause or impact on the ability to perform physical activities, such as mobility. Physical disability includes paraplegia, quadriplegia, muscular dystrophy, motor neurone disease, neuromuscular disorders, cerebral palsy, absence or deformities of limbs, spina bifida, arthritis, back disorders, ataxia, bone formation or degeneration, scoliosis etc.
Impairments may affect internal organs such as lung or liver.

CODE 42    Acquired brain injury

Is used to describe multiple disabilities arising from damage to the brain acquired after birth. It can occur as a result of accidents, stroke, brain tumours, infection, poisoning, lack of oxygen, degenerative neurological disease etc. Effects include deterioration in cognitive, physical, emotional or independent functioning.

CODE 43    Neurological disability

Applies to impairments of the nervous system occurring after birth, and may be associated with such conditions as epilepsy, organic dementias (e.g. Alzheimer's disease), multiple sclerosis and Parkinson's disease.

Collection methods:Help on this term

Data collections may collect at the higher level of detail or the lower level of detail. However, it is important that the two levels of classification can be mapped to each other.

Specific collections may require information on all disabilities of a person, on only one primary disability or on both. The definition of 'primary disability group' used in the Commonwealth State/Territory Disability Agreement National Minimum Data Set is 'the disability group causing the most overall difficulty to the person in their daily life'.

Source and reference attributes

Submitting organisation:Help on this termAustralian Institute of Health and Welfare
Origin:Help on this term

Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) 2002. Commonwealth State/Territory Disability Agreement National Minimum Data Set (CSTDA NMDS). Data guide: data items and definitions 2003-04 Canberra: AIHW. Reference through:

AIHW 2002. CSTDA NMDS Dictionary Version 1.0. Canberra: AIHW. Reference through:

Relational attributes

Related metadata references:Help on this term

Has been superseded by Disability group code N Community Services (retired), Standard 08/05/2006

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