Chapter

Defining Disability

Lisa I. Iezzoni and Bonnie L. O'Day

in More than Ramps

Published in print January 2006 | ISBN: 9780195172768
Published online September 2009 | e-ISBN: 9780199865710 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195172768.003.0002
 Defining Disability

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Disability has numerous definitions, and different definitions conjure up varying assumptions about the lives and expectations of persons with disabilities. This chapter explores the historical roots of these definitions and the rationale for different perspectives, providing broad overviews of the medical and social models of disability. It then reviews several major definitions of disability in the United States, including those of the Social Security Administration and the Americans with Disabilities Act. It concludes by describing the definition used by the World Health Organization, which guides perspectives throughout the book.

Keywords: disability definition; social model; medical model; Social Security; disability insurance; Americans with Disabilities Act; World Health Organization

Chapter.  7750 words. 

Subjects: Public Health and Epidemiology

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