Person—disability group, code N

Identifying and definitional attributes

Metadata item type:Data Element
Short name:Disability group
METeOR identifier:337532
Registration status:Community Services (retired), Standard 01/03/2005

The disability group that most clearly expresses the experience of disability by a person as represented by a code.


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.

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', 'Activity and Participation' and 'Environmental factors'.

Data Element Concept:Person—disability group

Value domain attributes

Representational attributes

Representation class:Code
Data type:Number
Maximum character length:1
Permissible values:
Supplementary values:
9Not stated/inadequately described

Collection and usage attributes

Guide for use:

Code 1     Intellectual/learning

Intellectual/learning disability is associated with impairment of intellectual functions with limitations in a range of daily activities and restrictions 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:

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

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. Includes Down syndrome, tuberous sclerosis, cri-du-chat syndrome etc.

Specific learning/Attention Deficit Disorder (other than intellectual). 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.

Autism (including Asperger syndrome and Pervasive Developmental Delay) 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

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 the 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

This grouping includes:

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

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.

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

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

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 limitations and participation restrictions will vary with the extent of impairment and the environment. Environmental factors and support needs are related to areas of activity limitation and participation restrictions, and may be required for long periods. Level of supports may vary with both life changes and extent of impairment.

This grouping includes:

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.

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

Neurological disability applies to impairments of the nervous system occurring after birth, and includes epilepsy and organic dementias (e.g. Alzheimer disease) as well as such conditions as multiple sclerosis and Parkinson disease.

Source and reference attributes

Submitting organisation:Australian Institute of Health and Welfare

Commonwealth State/Territory Disability Agreement National Minimum Data Set 2002-2003 Data Guide.

Reference documents:

Commonwealth State/Territory Disability Agreement National Minimum Data Set 2005-06 Data Guide.

Data element attributes

Collection and usage attributes

Guide for use:

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 6th edn) ANN{.N[N]} and Episode of care—additional diagnosis, code (ICD-10-AM 6th 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 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.

Collection methods:

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

Code 1     Intellectual /learning

Specific learning
Developmental delay

Code 2     Psychiatric


Code 3     Sensory/speech


Code 4     Physical/diverse

Acquired brain impairment


Specific collections may require information on all disabilities of person, on only one primary disability or on both.

Relational attributes

Related metadata references:

Supersedes Disability grouping, version 2, DE, NCSDD, NCSIMG, Superseded 01/03/2005.pdf (28.2 KB)

Implementation in Data Set Specifications:

Child protection and support services (CPSS) client cluster Community Services (retired), Standard 30/04/2008

DSS specific attributes +