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Ability status tends to be divided along lines of gender, ethnicity, class, and sexual orientation. Early research on ability status and gender focused almost exclusively on the experiences of White men with spinal cord injuries, excluding the experiences of women and persons with other disabilities. The focus of research has changed, and research is now inclusive of a wider variety of disability experiences.

Scholars in multiple disciplines differentiate between impairment and disability, and between sex and gender. Impairment refers to a medical condition or diagnosis. Disability refers to the social consequences and constraints imposed by society as a result of that condition. Like impairment, sex is biological. Like disability, gender is cultural and imposed by society. Disability may encompass a variety of developmental, invisible, physical, and ...

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