The Definition of Disability Perspective of the Disability Community The questions of the definition of "person with a disability" and how persons with disabilities perceive themselves are knotty and complex.It is no accident that these questions are emerging at the same time that the status of persons with disabilities in society is changing dramatically.One of the central goals of the disability rights movement, which can claim primary political responsibility for the ADA, is to move American society to a new and more positive understanding of what it means to have a disability.Disability policy scholars describe four different historical and social models of disability: A moral model of disability which regards disability as the result of sin; A medical model of disability which regards disability as a defect or sickness which must be cured through medical intervention; A rehabilitation model, an offshoot of the medical model, which regards the disability as a deficiency that must be fixed by a rehabilitation professional or other helping professional; and the disability model, under which "the problem is defined as a dominating attitude by professionals and others, inadequate support services when compared with society generally, as well as attitudinal, architectural, sensory, cognitive, and economic barriers, and the strong tendency for people to generalize about all persons with disabilities overlooking the large variations within the disability community.This is consistent with the role of the person with a disability as sick.It is also the source of enormous problems for persons with disabilities who want to work but who would risk losing all related public benefits, such as health care coverage or access to Personal Assistance Services (for in-home chores and personal functioning), since a person loses one's disability status by going to work.The current Vocational Rehabilitation system is designed according to this model.Persons with disabilities have been very critical of both the medical model and the rehabilitation model.
Historically, it gained acceptance after World War II when many disabled veterans needed to be re-introduced into society.
For the individual with a disability, this model is particularly burdensome.
This model has been associated with shame on the entire family with a member with a disability.
as the most significant problem experienced by persons with disabilities and as the cause of many of the problems that are regarded as intrinsic to the disability under the other models.
The cultural habit of regarding the condition of the person, not the built environment or the social organization of activities, as the source of the problem, runs deep.