Understanding the nature of disability varies in each culture and has varied throughout history. The dominant understanding of disability has been that it is an individual's deficiency. More contemporary approaches view disability as a social construct dependent on the interaction of impairment, the degree to which the impairment impacts on what individuals can do, personal attributes and social/environmental responses to disability. These approaches have been accompanied by a shift in focus from specialist and largely segregated services to community based, inclusive responses.
A major underpinning of moves to community based services in Australia and across the western world has been the Principle of Normalisation and Social Role Valorisation. Another major influence has been the rise of the human rights movement during the 1960s and the Social Model.
This unit will provide an introduction to understanding the cultural and historical concepts related to how disability is understood, and theoretical frameworks for understanding issues related to disability.