Disability interaction with various barriers may hinderDisability interaction with various barriers may hinder

Disability is a condition which almost every one of us goes through once in our lives, eithertemporarily or permanently (Nations). Article 1 of Convention on the Rights of People with Disability(CRPD) have stated disability as “long-term physical, mental, intellectual or sensory impairmentswhich in interaction with various barriers may hinder full and effective participation in society on anequal basis with others” (Kaplan 2000). Hence, instead of merely attributing disability to impairment,the definition puts emphasis on interaction within the context. Contextual factors refer to a wider set ofmatters, such as policies and approaches that are implemented. This includes service delivery systems,physical and information access, and environmental factors affecting overall social life (UN 2006).The understanding of disability as the result of an interaction between the individual and theenvironment has gradually gained ground and has developed hand-in-hand with the movement ofunderstanding of disability as a rights based issue (Kaplan 2000, UN 2006). Current definitions ofdisability have incorporated these developments. The understanding of disability has thus come a longway from being associated with sin and punishment, characterizing what is often termed a moralmodel of disability (Kaplan 2000) . In this model, people with disabilities were assumed to be a cursedand were treated by the bigger majority as charitable cases. The medical model that followedaddressed disability as medical deviance, concentrating on the body and its impairments. Hence, thismodel aimed at treating and rehabilitating disabled individuals in order for them to fit into the ”nondisabled”society. This approach disregarded environmental factors that inhibit individual’sparticipation (WHO 2011). In the social model that followed, disability is seen from an oppositeapproach, and regards the society (environment and context) as the main cause of disability, hencefocusing on enabling participation (Kaplan 2000). They argue that discrimination at institutional andsocietal levels disable individuals from attaining their fullest potential.With the adoption of the International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF),WHO adopted an approach that combines the medical and social model, formed into a biopsychosocialand interactional model of disability (WHO 2011). The ICF attempts to assess disability from threepoints: body function, activity and participation. According to this model, disability is neither a fullymedical nor a fully social issue, rather it is a condition that arises from the interaction between healthimpairments and contextual factors. Moreover, the ICF model gave ground to understanding disabilityas a continuum rather than as a dichotomy (disabled versus not disabled). Unlike the previous modelthat focused on health impairments, this model advocates for broader and targeted approaches towardsboth health impairments and the contextual factors that stand in the way of creating inclusive societies.