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Encyclopedia > Impairment

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.


A human rights based approach has been adopted by many organizations of and for disabled people. In 2000, for example, the United Nations Assembly decided to start working on a comprehensive convention for the rights of disabled people.


Well-known people with disabilities

Many people with disabilities have contributed to society. These include American president Franklin Roosevelt (impaired movement as the result of polio), classical composer Ludwig von Beethoven (deaf in later years), musician Stevie Wonder (blind), Def Leppard drummer Rick Allen (lost left arm in a car accident), civil rights activist Helen Keller (deaf and blind), Stephen Hawking (who has Motor Neurone Disease and uses a wheelchair and speech synthesizer), and many others.


See also

Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to:
Disability

External links


  Results from FactBites:
 
Hearing impairment - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (4026 words)
Most cases of human deafness (severe to profound hearing impairment) are due to insensitivity of the cochlea at the level of the hair-cell, which is the sound receptor cell that actually transduces sound vibration into the nerve impulses that stimulate the auditory portion of the VIIIth Cranial Nerve.
Prelingual hearing impairment exists when the impairment is congenital or otherwise acquired before the individual has acquired speech and language, thus rendering the disadvantages more difficult to treat because the child is unable to access audible /spoken communication from the outset.
Finally, a child who has a severe impairment and uses some sign language may be rejected by his or her deaf peers, because of an understandable hesitation in abandoning the use of existent verbal and speech-reading skills.
Hearing impairment - Medical Encyclopedia (1812 words)
Those with severe impairments are likeliest to be noted first, particularly by their parents or caretakers, since these children do not begin speaking at a normal age.
This is unfortunate, as the prognosis for the acquisition of intelligible speech increases the earlier a child's impairment is detected, and where indicated, fitted for hearing aids.
Finally, a child who has a severe impairment and uses some sign language may be rejected by her deaf peers, because of her understandable hesitation in abandoning the use of her verbal and speech-reading skills.
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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