Tuesday, March 13, 2007

A Random thought on the ADA and disability

I was reading an article that compared social and medical models of disability, advocating for a social model. I have some uninformed instinctive thoughts on the matter.

If we accept things as disabilities that are not medically debilitating (such as being a woman who had an abortion, or being gay, or being black) then in other contexts we risk reinforcing stigmas that we, as progressives and humans, would like to eliminate. I’d personally prefer an approach that required more precise definitions of medical disabilities and a focusing of the scrutiny on the medical establishment.

Perhaps it would be very utilitarian: an addressable disability for the purpose of employment and access is something that prevents you from doing a job, exercising a right, or taking advantage of a service that you are otherwise capable of doing without a change to the fundamental nature of the job, right, or service. The nature of reasonable accommodation would change as technology changes (think of the jobs that a severely dyslexic person could do now, 20 years ago, and 10 years from now) and the assessment of someone as ADA-disabled would not be a stigma-bearing one: it’s an assessment that in a particular context the individual could be fully burden-bearing and benefit-laden but for the nefarious action or lack of action by the denier.

Anyway, I’ve never thought about this before. Which made it perfect for my blog :-)

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