Thursday, September 20, 2007

Differently abled
A disability is a condition or function judged to be significantly impaired relative to the usual standard of an individual or their group. The term is often used to refer to individual functioning, including physical impairment, sensory impairment, cognitive impairment, intellectual impairment or mental health issue. This usage is associated with a medical model of disability. By contrast, a human rights or social model focuses on functioning as an interaction between a person and their environment, highlighting the role of a society in labelling, causing or maintaining disability within that society, including through attitudes or accessibility favoring the majority. Disabilities may come to people during their life or people may be born disabled.
Common usage refers to 'a person with a disability' or a person who is 'disabled' or, more controversially, who is 'handicapped', 'differently abled', 'retarded', 'lame', 'handi-capable' or a 'cripple'. Some prefer to only refer to specific 'disabilities' rather than to a generalized sense of 'disability'.
On December 13, 2006, the United Nations formally agreed on the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, the first human rights treaty of the 21st century, to protect and enhance the rights and opportunities of the world's estimated 650 million disabled people. Countries that sign up to the convention will be required to adopt national laws, and remove old ones, so that persons with disabilities would, for example, have equal rights to education, employment, and cultural life; the right to own and inherit property; not be discriminated against in marriage, children, etc; not be unwilling subjects in medical experiments.
In 1976, the United Nations launched its International Year for Disabled Persons (1981), later re-named the International Year of Disabled Persons. The UN Decade of Disabled Persons (1983-1993) featured a World Programme of Action Concerning Disabled Persons. In 1979, Frank Bowe was the only person with a disability representing any country in the planning of IYDP-1981. Today, many countries have named representatives who are themselves individuals with disabilities. The decade was closed in an address before the General Assembly by Robert Davila. Both Bowe and Davila are deaf. In 1984, UNESCO accepted sign language for use in education of deaf children and youth.

The Disability rights movement

Main article: Disabled sports Adapted sports
Current issues and debates surrounding 'disability' include social and political rights, social inclusion and citizenship. In developed countries the debate has moved beyond a concern about the perceived cost of maintaining dependent people with a disability to the struggle to find effective ways of ensuring people with a disability can participate in and contribute to society in all spheres of life. Many are concerned, however, that the greatest need is in developing nations -- where the vast bulk of the estimated 650 million persons with disabilities reside. A great deal of work -- from basic physical accessibility through education to self-empowerment and self-supporting employment -- is needed. In the past few years, disability rights activists have also focused on obtaining full sexual citizenship for the disabled.

Current issues
The International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF), produced by the World Health Organization, distinguishes between body functions (physiological or psychological, e.g. vision) and body structures (anatomical parts, e.g. the eye and related structures). Impairment in bodily structure or function is defined as involving an anomaly, defect, loss or other significant deviation from certain generally accepted population standards, which may fluctuate over time. Activity is defined as the execution of a task or action. The ICF lists 9 broad domains of functioning which can be affected:
(see also List of disabilities)
The introduction to the ICF states that a variety of conceptual models has been proposed to understand and explain disability and functioning, which it seeks to integrate:

Learning and applying knowledge
General tasks and demands
Domestic life
Interpersonal interactions and relationships
Major life areas
Community, social and civic life. Definitions and Models

Main article: Medical model of disability The medical model

Main article: Social model of disability The social model

The moral model (Bowe, 1978) refers to the attitude that people are morally responsible for their own disability, including, at one extreme, as a result of bad actions of parents if congenital, or as a result of practicing witchcraft if not. This attitude can be seen as a religious fundamentalist offshoot of the original animal roots of human beings, back when humans killed any baby that could not survive on its own in the wild (see Darwinism).
The Expert/Professional Model has provided a traditional response to disability issues and can be seen as an offshoot of the Medical Model. Within its framework, professionals follow a process of identifying the impairment and its limitations (using the Medical Model), and taking the necessary action to improve the position of the disabled person. This has tended to produce a system in which an authoritarian, over-active service provider prescribes and acts for a passive client.
The Tragedy/Charity Model depicts disabled people as victims of circumstance, deserving of pity. This and Medical Model are probably the ones most used by non-disabled people to define and explain disability. To counter this trend, disabled activists are fond of the slogan "PISS ON PITY".
Social Adapted Model ; Other models

Government policies and support
Under the Disability Discrimination Act (1995, extended in 2005), it is unlawful for organisations to discriminate (treat a disabled person less favourably, for reasons related to the person's disability, without justification) in employment; access to goods, facilities, services; managing, buying or renting land or property; education. Businesses must make "reasonable adjustments" to their policies or practices, or physical aspects of their premises, to avoid indirect discrimination.[1]
A number of financial and care support services are available, including Incapacity Benefit and Disability Living Allowance[2].

United Kingdom

United States
The US Rehabilitation Act of 1973 requires all organizations that receive government funding to provide accessiblity programs and services. A more recent law, the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which came in to effect in 1992, prohibits private employers, state and local governments and employment agencies and labor unions from discriminating against qualified individuals with disabilities in job application procedures, hiring, firing, advancement, compensation, job training, or in the terms, conditions and privileges of employment. This includes organizations like retail businesses, movie theaters, and restaurants. They must make "reasonable accommodation" to people with different needs. Protection is extended to anyone with (A) a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more of the major life activities of an individual (B) a record of such an impairment or (C) being regarded as having such an impairment. The second and third critiera are seen as ensuring protection from unjust discrimination based on a perception of risk, just because someone has a record of impairment or appears to have a disability or illness (e.g. features which may be erroneously taken as signs of an illness).

Discrimination in employment
According to the 2000 U.S. Census, the African American community has the highest rate of disability at 24.3 percent. Although people have come to better understand and accept different types of disability, there still remains a stigma attached to the disabled community. African Americans with a disability are subject to not only this stigma but also to the additional forces of race discrimination. African American women who have a disibility face tremendous discrimination due to their condition, race, and gender. Doctor Eddie Glenn of Howard University describes this situation as the "triple jeopardy" syndrome.

African Americans and Disability
The US Social Security Administration defines disability in terms of inability to perform substantial gainful activity (SGA), by which it means "work paying minimum wage or better". The agency pairs SGA with a "listing" of medical conditions that qualify individuals for benefits.

Social administration
Under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, special educational support is limited to children and youth falling in to one of a dozen disability categories (e.g., specific learning disability) and adds that, to be eligible, students must require both special education (modified instruction) and related services (supports such as speech and language pathology).


The demography of disability is difficult. Counting persons with disabilities is far more challenging than is counting males. That is because disability is not just a status condition, entirely contained within the individual. Rather, it is an interaction between medical status (say, having low vision or being blind) and the environment.

Estimates worldwide
Disability benefit, or disability pension, is a kind of support provided by government agencies to people who are unable to work due to a disability, temporarily or permanently. In the U.S., disability benefit is provided within the category of Supplemental Security Income, and in Canada, within the Canada Pension Plan. In other countries, disability benefit may be provided under Social Security system.
Costs of disability pensions are steadily growing in Western countries, mainly European and the United States. It was reported that in the UK, expenditure on disability pensions accounted for 0.9% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 1980, but two decades later had reached 2.6% of GDP. A study by Denmark researchers suggests that information on self-reported days of sickness absence can be used to effectively identify future potential groups for disability pension. [3] These studies may provide useful information for policy makers, case managing authorities, employers, and physicians responsible for interventions aiming at reducing the cost and work disability.

Differently abled Disability Benefits and Cost
Assistive Technology (AT) is a generic term for devices and modifications (for a person or within a society) that help overcome or remove a disability. The first recorded example of the use of a prosthesis dates to at least 1800 BC. A more recent notable example is the wheelchair, dating from the 17th Century. The curb cut is a related structural innovation. Other modern examples are standing frames, text telephones, accessible keyboards, large print, Braille, & speech recognition Computer software. Individuals with disabilities often develop personal or community adaptations, such as strategies to suppress tics in public (for example in Tourette's syndrome), or sign language in deaf communities. Assistive technology or interventions are sometimes controversial or rejected, for example in the controversy over cochlear implants for children. A number of symbols are in use to indicate whether certain accessibility adaptations have been made[4].

As the personal computer has become more ubiquitous, various organisations have been founded which develop software and hardware which make a computer more accessible for people with disabilities. Some software and hardware, such as SmartboxAT's The Grid, and Freedom Scientific's JAWS has been specifically designed for people with disabilities; other pieces of software and hardware, such as Nuance's Dragon NaturallySpeaking, was not developed specifically for people with disabilities, but can be used to increase accessibility.
Further organisations, such as AbilityNet and U Can Do IT, have been established to provide assessment services which determine which assistive technologies would best assist an individual client, and also to train people with disabilities in how to use computer-based assistive technology.

See also