Although they work side-by-side, rehabilitation and habilitation mean two different things:

Habilitation refers to a process aimed at helping disabled people attain, keep or improve skills and functioning for daily living; its services include physical, occupational, and speech-language therapy, various treatments related to pain management, and audiology and other services that are offered in both hospital and outpatient locations.

Rehabilitation refers to regaining skills, abilities, or knowledge that may have been lost or compromised as a result of acquiring a disability or due to a change in one’s disability or circumstances.

As defined in the CRPD, Habilitation and Rehabilitation “enable persons with disabilities to attain and maintain maximum independence, full physical, mental, social, and vocational ability, and full inclusion and participation in all aspects of life.”

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Without adequate habilitation and rehabilitation services, persons with disabilities may not be able to work, go to school, or participate in cultural, sports, or leisure activities. At the same time, barriers to other human rights can prevent persons with disabilities from claiming the right to habilitation and rehabilitation. Services may exist, but if there is not accessible transportation, many persons with disabilities will not receive the benefit of these services. If information about habilitation and rehabilitation services is not available in accessible formats, persons with certain disabilities may never know that they exist.

 

RI Fact Sheet:Health, Rehabilitation, Habilitation