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Disability Definitions

Definitions of disability are mediated by individual and collective human perception and interpretation, and vary historically and culturally. Disability definitions, then, are socially constructed rather than inherent in nature. Definitions of disability are found widely in discourses including personal, sociopolitical, medical-therapeutic, legal, educational, and academic. Predominantly, disability has been defined in contrast to what is considered to be “normal,” “healthy,” and “fit.” Most commonly, disability is understood as deficiency, defect, deviance, or injury, and the person with the disability as lacking substantial ability for full participation in society. Typically, disability is seen as an individual's problem requiring a solution and necessitating eradication, control, repair, or therapy.

Because of variation in definition and identification, it is difficult to determine how many women, worldwide, are considered or consider ...

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