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Disability

From Academic Kids

The term "disability", as it is applied to humans, refers to any condition that impedes the completion of daily tasks using traditional methods. National governments and global humanitarian agencies have narrowed this definition for their own purposes, only pledging aid to those with specific disabilities of a certain severity.

Contents

Types of disability

"Disability" can be broken down into a number of broad sub-categories, which include the following:

The evolution of a movement

Historically, disabilities have often been cast in a negative light. An individual thus affected was seen as being a “patient” subject either to cure or to ongoing medical care. His condition is seen as disabling; the social reactions to it are justified, and the barriers unavoidable. This position is known as the medical model of disability.

Over the past 20 years, a competing view known as the social model of disability has come to the fore. In this model, disability is seen more as a social construction than a medical reality. An individual may be impaired by a condition that requires daily living adaptations, but the bulk of his problem - his disability - can be found in the attitudinal and physical barriers erected by society.

Both the medical and social models agree, to a point, that facilities and opportunities should be made as accessible as possible to individuals who require adaptations. Dismantling physical barriers, or setting up adaptations such as wheelchair ramps, is known as "fostering accessibility".

The language and terminology of disability

Lately, the term disability has replaced the older designation handicapped. While these two designations can be used interchangeably, proponents of the social model of disability have appropriated the latter term to describe those social and economic consequences of the former. An individual with a physical or intellectual disability, then, is said to be "handicapped" by the lowered expectations of society.

A person may also be "impaired" either by a correctable condition such as myopia, or by an uncorrectable one such as cerebral palsy. For those with mild conditions, related impairments disappear with the application of corrective devices. More serious impairments call for adaptive equipment.

In the United Kingdom, people within the disability rights movement commonly use the term "Disabled" to denote someone who is "disabled by society's inability to accommodate all of its inhabitants."

The Person First Movement has added another layer to this discourse by asking that people with disabilities be identified first as individuals. "Person First Language" -- referring, for example, to a “woman who is blind,” rather than to "a blind woman" - is a form of political correctness designed to further the aims of the social model by removing attitudinal barriers.

Some people with disabilities support the Person First Movement, while others do not. People who are Deaf in particular may see themselves as members of a specific community, properly called the Deaf culture, and so will reject efforts designed to distance them from the central fact of their identity.

The American Psychological Association style guide devotes a large section to the discussion of individuals with disabilities, and states that in professional writing following this style, the person should come first, and nominal forms describing the disability should be used so that the disability is being described, but is not modifying the person. For instance, "people with autism," "man with schizophrenia," "girl with paraplegia." Similarly, a person's adaptive equipment should be described functionally as something that assists a person, not as something that limits a person. "A woman who uses a wheelchair" -- she is not "in" it or "confined" to it, and she leaves it at the very least for sleeping and bathing. "A boy who communicates primarily through the use of a voice-output computer device." "A girl who breathes only with the support of a ventilator." "A man who takes antipsychotic medications to optimize his daily functioning."

Many people with disabilities especially dislike "disabled person" or "the disabled," as this implies that one's overall "personness" is defective, while "person with a disability" acknowledges the disability without implying anything about the overall person.

When discussing a person with a disability and the specific disability has not been stated, it is best to use observations. "A student who was walking with crutches and was communicating to his teacher by pointing to a visual chart" or "a man who was talking to himself consistently and who seemed comfortable navigating the community independently."

A human rights based approach has been adopted by many organizations of and for people with disabilities. In 2000, for example, the United Nations Assembly decided to start working on a comprehensive convention for the rights of people with disabilities. Since 2002 the "UN Ad-Hoc meeting" gathers every six months to discuss the content of this UN convention. These meetings are open for Non-Government-Organisations and Disabled Peoples' Organisations. Unfortunately there has not been a lot of meida attention for this event.

An approach that has lead to tangible improvements in the lives of people with disabilities in many countries has been the Independent Living Movement. The term "Independent Living" was taken from 1959 California legislation that enabled people disabled by polio to leave hospital wards and move back into the community with the help of cash benefits for the purchase of personal assistance with the activities of daily living. With its origins in the US civil rights and consumer movements of the late 1960s the movement and its philosophy have since spread to other continents influencing disabled people's self-perception, their ways of organizing themselves and their countries' social policy.

Well-known people with disabilities

Many people with disabilities have contributed to society. These include:

See also

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External links

nl:Handicap no:Funksjonshemning

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