Definitions of Disability The definition of disability is highly contentious for several reasons.
Definitions of Disability The definition of disability is highly contentious for several reasons. Indeed, as late asthe Oxford English Dictionary recognized only these two senses of the term Boorse, Second, many different characteristics are considered disabilities.
Indeed, some have questioned, in part because of this variation, whether the concept of disability can do much philosophical work Beaudry, Two common features stand out in most official definitions of disability, such as those in the World Health Organization ;the U. The classification of a physical or mental variation as an impairment may be statistical, based on the average in some reference groups; biological, based on a theory of human functioning; or normative, based on a view of human flourishing.
However classified, impairments are generally seen as traits of the individual that he or she cannot readily alter. Just what makes a condition a trait or attribute of an individual is obscure and debatable, but there seems to be agreement on clear cases Kahane and Savulescu, Thus, poverty is not seen as an impairment, however disabling it may be, nor is tasteless clothing, even if it is a manifestation Disability models impaired fashion-sense rather than scarce income.
On the other hand, diseases are generally classified as impairments, even though they are rarely permanent or static conditions. Diseases that are not long-lasting, however, such as the flu and the measles, do not count as impairments. The characterization of both features is disputed.
Several scholars have challenged the prevailing view of impairment as objective and biologically grounded Shakespeare, ; Davis, ; Tremain, ; Amundson But the most controversial issue in defining disability is the relationship between the two.
At one extreme are definitions that imply, or are read to imply, that biological impairments are the sole causes of limitation. They have been criticized for ignoring disadvantages that cannot be attributed to social attitudes and practices Terzi,; Shakespeare, But in characterizing disability in terms of exclusion, these definitions need not deny that impairments have undesirable aspects, such as pain or discomfort—merely that those aspects are not within the scope, or part of the meaning, of disability.
In-between are definitions which assert that individual impairment and the social environment are jointly sufficient causes of limitation. The ADA is generally seen as adopting an interactive approach to disability, although it contains an amalgam of definitional features.
Models of Disability These different understandings of the relationship of impairment to limitation inform two contrasting approaches to disability, often described as opposing models: The medical model understands a disability as a physical or mental impairment of the individual and its personal and social consequences.
It regards the limitations faced by people with disabilities as resulting primarily, or solely, from their impairments. In contrast, the social model understands disability as a relation between an individual and her social environment: Their exclusion is manifested not only in deliberate segregation, but in a built environment and organized social activity that preclude or restrict the participation of people seen or labelled as having disabilities.
In their extreme forms, the medical and social models serve to chart the space of possible relationships between impairment and limitation more than to reflect the actual views of individuals or institutions.
A variety of more formal models, described in Altman,graphically represent the causal complexity of disability. The medical model is rarely defended but often adopted unreflectively by health care professionals, bioethicists, and philosophers who ignore or underestimate the contribution of social and other environmental factors to the limitations faced by people with disabilities.
A variety of social models are embraced by disability scholars and activists in and outside of philosophy. More moderate versions of the social model maintain the emphasis on social causes while insisting on the interactive character of disability e.
Taking the poor fit between atypical embodiment and standard environments as their starting point, they treat disability as an interaction between biological and social causes, denying causal priority to either. Implicit in the UPIAS definition of disability are two ways that society imposes limitations on disabled people, corresponding to two distinct strands of the social model.
On this view, the main reason people with disabilities encounter hardship is because they suffer discrimination along the same lines as racial or ethnic minorities. Accordingly, civil rights protections and anti-discrimination laws are the proper responses to disability e. This suggests the human variation model, according to which many of the challenges faced by disabled people do not result from their deliberate exclusion, but from a mismatch between their characteristics and the physical and social environment.
This view of disabilities as human variations is closely related to the view that disability is a universal human condition Zola, or shared human identity Davis,Ch.
The claim that disability is universal can be taken as nothing more than a prediction that we will all acquire familiar disabilities at some time in our lives.
But that claim is better construed as one about the nature of disability; as maintaining that all human beings have physical or mental variations that can become a source of vulnerability or disadvantage in some settings. These two versions of the social model are not incompatible, differing mainly in emphasis.
The discrimination stressed by the minority group model generally leads to, and is expressed in, the societal failure to accommodate people with various differences. In some contexts, it is appropriate to analogize people with disabilities to racial minorities; in others, it is important to reject a dichotomy between disability and normality and treat impairments as continuous variations.Although the social model, in one version or another, is now the dominant legislative, social-science, and humanities paradigm for understanding disability, stronger versions, particularly the British Social Model, have been subject to extensive criticism.
Table 1. Models of Disability Model of Disability Description Comment Medical Model The medical model or illness approach is based on the view that disability is .
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Economic Model of Disability. Under this model, disability is defined by a person’s inability to participate in work. It also assesses the degree to which impairment affects an individual’s productivity and the economic consequences for .
Definitions of the Models of Disability Defining Disability Today Models of Disability: Implications for Practice Disability: Definitions, Models, Experience Disability The four models Towards a Common Language for Functioning, Disability, and Health – ICF ICF Checklist.
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