Online Program

Contradictions between disability theory and disability policy and programs

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Rene Jahiel, MD, PhD, Executive Office, Ecole Libre des Hautes Etudes, New York, Bronx, NY
Introduction: The intensive development of disability theories and disability policies during the past 50 years prompts an assessment of their current relationships. Method: Major disability theories/frameworks and disability policies in USA and abroad were analyzed to assess their relationships and identify contradictions. Results: The following contradictions were noted. 1) Disability is part of a continuous range of functioning in frameworks such as ICF, yet it is a binary concept (disabled or not disabled) in policies such as the ADA ; 2) In current disability theory disability is produced by an interaction between person and environment, yet disability policy is still predominantly oriented to interventions addressing the person; 3) Current disability theory highlights autonomy and self-determination of persons with disabilities, while disability policy and programs tend to maintain professional domination; 4) disability policies provide several benefits to persons with disabilities while disability theories seldom deals with advantages of having a disability; 5) disability policies tend to rely upon judgment of professional experts while disability theories emphasize the unique perspective of persons with disabilities; 6) disability policy addresses in general the disability status, while disability theory points to the inseparability of disability, socio-economic condition and culture. Discussion/conclusions: Three pathways to resolution of the contradictions are explored. They are 1) translation of the “real world” approach of disability policy into disability theory; 2) translation of new disability concepts into disability policy to replace or modify traditional modes of thinking; and 3) formulation of new concepts that resolve current contradictions.

Learning Areas:

Advocacy for health and health education
Public health or related public policy
Systems thinking models (conceptual and theoretical models), applications related to public health

Learning Objectives:
Identify the main contemporary disability theories and USA and European disability policies; Explain the current trends of disability theories Compare the conceptual basis of contemporary disability theories and policies, Formulate one or more approach to the resolution of contradictions between disability theory and policy in the Western World.

Keyword(s): Disability Policy, Theory

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: My formal education includes an MD and a PhD; my qualifications in the field of disability include research and publications in peer-reviewed journals in the past 10 years, together with experiences of services to persons with disabilities and of living with disabilities in my family. I have researched theories and policies of disability for the past several years.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.