Workplace Design Principles

A starting point for an evidenced-based design process

Defining Disability: Definitions, value and identity. January 21, 2009

Filed under: Philosophical,Uncategorized — ia2studio @ 8:10 pm

The word “disability” has many models of definition. There are medical, architectural, economical, and sociopolitical models of the word disability. From a sociopolitical standpoint, the definition of disability focuses on “the interactions between individuals and the environment,”(Marinelli, 6), and has thus created a minority-group model for discrimination. A way to segregate those placed below the “standard”, the sociopolitical definition of disability has been challenged by the ADA. More so now, than ever, the word disability has evolved into a word that describes a mental or physical characteristic but is not to be confused with an impairment. Out of respect and consideration, an individual with a disability should always be addressed by their name first and their disability following. This “people first” terminology was enacted by the American Psychological Association style guide so the impairment may be identified but is not modifying the person, (Wikipedia). When designing, I believe the word disability helps define tasks that may need extra consideration. Taking into account ADA regulations helps to bridge the gap between sociopolitical models of disability and architectural stability.

“Disability.” Wikipedia: the free encyclopedia. July 2007. 21 Jan. 2009 <;.

Marinelli, Robert P., and Arthur E. Dell Orto, eds. The Psychological and Social Impact of Disability. Boston: Springer Company, Incorporated, 1999.
Shawn Calvin

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