The terms disability and disabled people are the most commonly used by disability rights activists, and recently policy makers and health care professionals have begun to use these terms more consistently.
Ongoing attention by the medical profession to the health and well-being of people with disabilities and to prevention of disease and impairments is critical.
Yet, along with these benefits, there are enormous negative consequences that will take a large part of this book to list and explain.
People may not be driven as much by economic imperatives as by a personal investment in their own beliefs and practices, in metaphors they hold dear, or in their own professional roles.
Further, underlying this tangled web of needs and beliefs, and central to the arguments presented in this book is an epistemological structure that both generates and reflects current interpretations. A glance through a few dictionaries will reveal definitions of disability that include incapacity, a disadvantage, deficiency, especially a physical or mental impairment that restricts normal achievement; something that hinders or incapacitates, something that incapacitates or disqualifies.
Legal definitions include legal incapacity or disqualification.
Stedman's Medical Dictionary (1976) identifies disability as a "medicolegal term signifying loss of function and earning power," whereas disablement is a "medicolegal term signifying loss of function without loss of earning power" (400).by Simi Linton(From Simi Linton, Claiming Disability: Knowledge and Identity. 8-17.) The present examination of disability has no need for the medical language of symptoms and diagnostic categories.Disability studies looks to different kinds of signifiers and the identification of different kinds of syndromes for its material.NAMING THE GROUP Across the world and throughout history various terminologies and meanings are ascribed to the types of human variations known in contemporary Westernized countries as disabilities.Over the past century the term disabled and others, such as handicapped and the less inclusive term crippled, have emerged as collective nouns that convey the idea that there is something that links this disparate group of people.The terms have been used to arrange people in ways that are socially and economically convenient to the society.There are various consequences of the chosen terminology and variation in the degree of control that the named group has over the labeling process.As typically used, the term disability is a linchpin in a complex web of social ideals, institutional structures, and government policies.As a result, many people have a vested interest in keeping a tenacious hold on the current meaning because it is consistent with the practices and policies that are central to their livelihood or their ideologies.NAMING OPPRESSION It has been particularly important to bring to light language that reinforces the dominant culture's views of disability.A useful step in that process has been the construction of the terms ableist and ableism, which can be used to organize ideas about the centering and domination of the nondisabled experience and point of view.