How do you frame disability?

How you frame the concept of disability has a big impact on your response to disability. For some people, disability means a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities. Others believe disability is a result of environments not being designed with the needs of everyone in mind. Still others feel disability is a deficit of any kind that involves a physical or mental problem.

What definition most closely reflects your own understanding of disability, and why?

Posted in: Discussion


  1. An excellent question to consider.

  2. Disability is multi-faceted. I like these two ways of framing disability.

    “Disability is a social/political category that includes people with a variety of conditions who are bound together by common experiences.” Sue Kroeger, 2009

    Disability is a social construct resulting from “…the systemic mismatch between physical and mental attributes of individuals and the present (but not the potential) ability of social institutions to accommodate these attributes.“ Schriner & Scotch, 2001

  3. Disability is the common factor that defines the largest minority in the United States (affecting 1 in every 5 persons over the age of 16 at some time in their lives). Disability is then just another of life’s possibilities. However, it also defines the largest group of people who are unemployed and live at or below the poverty level. Beatrice Wright (in 1983) spoke to the “bias” of the temporarily able and stated a simple concept; “Every individual needs respect and encouragement; the presence of a disability, no matter how severe, does not alter these fundamental rights.” Another thought that also resonates with me is that a society is defined by how it meets the needs of its weakest members. This in not an original thought but one I keep hoping will catch on.

  4. This is a vary interesting concept, however, I would define disability as life’s hardships and alteration of carrying out activities from the way that everyone else caries it out. By this I mean that people with disabilities are capable of carrying out everyday activites, but in a different way from everyone else. Disability does present hardships in life. This is the fact that one can not avoid. However, it is a challenge that one can certainly overcome. Therefore, disability should be defined in a possative way and not in a negative way.

  5. Disability is the largest population with greatest amount of power when unified. By this I mean that since there 54,000,000 people with disability, when we come together we have the ability to really make a difference. There is potential to make a difference.