n. A disability, especially one that causes or encourages the person to develop different or special abilities.
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Ryals likes to focus on the positive. "As my experiences grow, I keep wanting to rephrase and change the word disability to a new word, 'diff-ability.' Throughout my life, most people noticed my deformities and looked at my disability, while my friends and family focused on my different abilities," he said.
—Frank Stanfield, “Artist keeps focus on his abilities,” The Orlando Sentinel, June 28, 2002
1997 (earliest)
I sometimes use the word 'diffability' because it says different abilities and people do have different abilities. We all do. But some are especially different and — and deserve some special attention.
—Tim Shriver, “Willowbrook: The last Disgrace,” The Geraldo Rivera Show, January 06, 1997
This word — a blend of different and disability — is a natural outgrowth of longstanding phrases such as differently abled, differently challenged, and handicapable that aim to describe the disabled using positive language.
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