What is disability? 7
The medical understanding of disability
Many doctors and other health workers see only the disability someone
may have. They do not see a person with a disability as a total person or
woman. They think people with “impairments” have something “wrong”
with them and must be cured, rehabilitated, or protected.
When stairs or bad attitudes make hospitals and other public health
facilities not useable by everyone, then it is the medical system which has
something “wrong” with it and must be cured or rehabilitated. In those cases,
it is not a woman’s disability but the medical understanding of disability that
makes it impossible for her to live a healthy and fulfilling life.
We will deal with our disabilites, but only you can stop
causing the social discrimination we face.
We may be disadvantaged by an
impairment, but we are hurt more by
the the limitations imposed by attitudes
and by social, cultural, economic,
and environmental barriers to our
participation in society.
We make decisions
about our own lives.
We do not want to
accept care or charity
Disability is a natural part of life
There will always be some people born with impairments. And there will always be
accidents and illnesses. But governments and communities can work to change the
social causes of disability—the limitations imposed on people with disabilities by
attitudes, and social, cultural, economic, and physical barriers to their participation
in society. The physical and mental health of women with disabilities will improve
when communities improve access, challenge prejudice, and create employment
A Health Handbook for Women with Disabilities 2007