Disability Theory

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					                                     Disability Theory
This collection of articles discuss various perspectives on how disability is understood, analysed and
viewed by academics, professionals, policy makers and governments as well as the general

Becker, K. A. (2003). History of the Stanford-Binet Intelligence scales: Content and psychometrics.
     Stanford-Binet Intelligence Scales Assessment Service Bulletin (5)1. Itasca, IL: Riverside
     Publishing. 16 pgs.

This report discusses the historical development of the Stanford-Binet Intelligence Scales from the
original in 1916 to the newest addition in 2003. The Stanford- Binet Intelligence test is one of the
most common intelligence test used today. It uses a range of psychometric tests to determine
intelligence on a number of scales. The evolution of the scale is explored in the report with historical
limitations and subsequent developments documented, although limitations of the most current
scale- the Stanford-Binet 5 are not presented as critique was not available at time of publishing.

Carlson, L. (2001). Cognitive Ableism and Disability studies: Feminist Reflections on the History of
      Mental Retardation. Hypatia (16)4. Pp 124-146.

Carlson (2001) provides a detailed feminist critique of the social construction of ‘feeblemindedness’
as the catalyst of the label of ‘intellectual disability’. The article explores how ‘feeblemindedness ‘is
constructed along gendered lines. The article explores oppression of women in the constructions
‘feeblemindedness’ historically, including women defined as ‘feebleminded’, the female institutional
care staff, mothers, researchers and reformists. The article explores how characteristics of the
female experience, personality and being are constructed as deviant- for example ‘illegitimate child
bearing’ as a sign of feeblemindedness, mother’s responsibility for the creation of ‘feebleminded’
children and the exploitation of non-disabled and disabled women in the care, research and reform
contexts. Current perspectives on disability are presented with the theory of ‘abelism’ used to
critique current practices of a gendered workforce, sterilization of women with intellectual disability,
prenatal testing and genetic counselling. It is argued a feminist critique of history is required for
further use of the feminist perspective in working with people with an intellectual disability.

Chenoweth, L. and Clements, N. (2009). Final Report: Funding and service options for people with
     disabilities. School of Human Services and Social Work Griffith University. 55 pgs.

The report details the outcomes of a collaborative study into the service provision to people with a
disability nationally and internationally with the aim of finding out what could be adapted to suit the
needs of people with a disability living in Queensland. The current trends in funding and service
provision for people with a disability, the features of effective approaches, and standards used to
measure effective provision of services are explored in the study as well how these could be
implemented in Queensland. The report finds that self directed care/ Individual funding and
independent living with community service support are the current service provision trends. Some of
the reported characteristics of effective models includes systematic allocation of individual funding,
local area coordination, universal, mainstream services, de-compartmentalisation, and using a
combination of formal and informal support. The article provides a good orientation to the variety of
models used in Australia and nationally including cost analysis, case studies and diagrammatic
representations of information.

Oliver, M. (1990). The Individual and Social Models of Disability: Paper presented at Joint Workshop
       of the Living Options Group and the Research Unit of the Royal College of Physicians on
       People with Established Locomotors Disabilities in Hospitals. Monday 23rd July 1990.

Oliver (1990) provides a clear and concise explanation of the individual and social models of
disability. Oliver offers contextualisation the critique of the medicalisation of disability as part of the
individual model of disability, not an attack on the medical profession and their knowledge. It is
explained that the individual model locates the ‘problems’ associated with disability with the
individual, where as the social model refutes that the individual is the cause of problems, but
society’s inability to provide adequately for the diversity of needs of people with a disability. It is
with the social model in mind that the critique of the medicalisation of disability occurs, as it is
argued that doctors do not have the skills or knowledge required to address the social conditions
that cause the ‘problem’ they believe requires treatment. Oliver also discusses the ideology of
normality which bears a strong influence on how ‘disability’ is experienced in society today.

Oliver, M. and Barnes, C. (2008). ‘Talking about us without us?’. A response to Neil Crowther.
       Disability & Society(23)4. Pp 397-399.

In this reply to Neil Crowther’s critique of the ‘disability movement’ , Oliver and Barnes (2008) begin
by exposing the issues relating to defining the ‘disability movement’ and the unclear boundaries
between what constitutes a user lead organisation. The historical developments of the ‘disabled
people’s movement’ ( as opposed to the ‘disability movement’, whose intentions are not always
clear) are explored briefly. The overall suggestion is that to become involved in or offer critique of
the ‘disabled people’s movement’ one must engage with the appropriate historical account and
Schelly, D. (2008). Problems associated with choice and quality of life for an individual with an
         intellectual disability: a personal assistant’s reflexive ethnography. Disability and
         Society(23)7. Pp 719-732.

This narrative account of the application of common theories of disability practice and popular
rhetoric depicts the challenges in application and the ethical dilemmas of those working with people
with an intellectual disability. The article presents a reflexive, journal style recount of an
undergraduate sociologist working as a personal care assistant for a person with an intellectual
disability for a year. The undergraduate discusses the application of theory to practice involving
choice, decision making and quality of life. Perspectives discussed include normalisation, ‘best
interests’ and the role of the parent, infantilization, the social model, quality of life, choice and goals,
decision making, interviewing, abstract thinking and service delivery. The article concludes with how
the individual model and social model, represented as individual difference and social experience
can be considered to achieve quality service provision.

Schroeder, S., Gerry, M., Gertz, G., Velazquez, F., Kansas University Centre on Developmental
      Disabilties. and the Centre for the Study of Family, Neighbourhood and Community Policy.
      (2002). Final Project Report: Usage of the Term “Mental retardation”: Language, Image and
      Public Education. University of Kansas. 255 pgs.

This report explores the use of the term ‘mental retardation’ in the U.S, but also includes
international data. The report has four main focus areas. Firstly the trends in definitions used, which
showed that those of the American Association on Mental Retardation and that used in the DSM- IV
are most commonly used. Secondly the usage of the term ‘mental retardation’ was surveyed
internationally which found that ‘mental retardation was still most community used in the U.S, and
‘intellectual disability’ most common in the commonwealth countries such as Australia. Thirdly, the
label of ‘mentally retarded’ was explored in terms of how pejorative, that is- denotes negative
image, connotation and stereotyping is viewed generally, by parents, professional and families.
Lastly, the effect of diagnosis, definition and label are discussed in the context of government policy
and eligibility criteria for social services such as Medicaid which provides an example of how
Australian policy could be analysed with the same focus.

Taylor, S. J. (2000). “You’re not a retard, you’re just wise”- Disability, Social Identity and Family
      Networks. Journal of Contemporary Ethnography(29) 1. Pp 58-92.

From a sociological perspective this article explores ‘disability’ in constructed as an identity and how
it’s given meaning. Disability and stigma as discussed throughout. An alternative case is provided to
demonstrate the ability of one family to avoid and reject taking on a stigmatized indentify within
themselves, their families and wider social networks. The factors that lead to this ability to reject the
stigma as the ability to reinterpret the language used by agencies to define them, the reinforcement
of positive identities by wider kin and social networks, their values roles as family members and
avoiding being full-time clients of human service organisations and finally their interpretation of
competence as relative. The stigmatizing labels sourced from, and allocated by government policy,
statutory organisations and human service agencies are contrasted to the identities formed by the
family, kin and networks.

Blatt, B and Kaplan, F. (1974). Christmas in Purgatory: A Photographic Essay on Mental
       Retardation. Human Policy Press: New York. 128 pgs.

Christmas is Purgatory is a photographic essay complied in 1965 after US Senator Robert Kennedy
visited became aware of the horrific conditions inside initiations for the ‘mentally retarded’. Senator
Kennedy’s reactions were the catalyst of the author’s project to document and expose the
experiences of people living in institutions in the U.S. The photographic essay is in black and white
still shots and not always the clearest of photographs due to the conditions under which the
photographs were taken. The authors point that although the essay shows, the majority of
institutions where inhumane, cruel and neglectful places that there are a few institutions and
dedicated workers that represented a minority.

Atherton, H. (2005). Unit 2- A brief history of learning disability, in Getting it right together.
      University of Leeds. England.

This article is an extract from unit of study on learning disability. It provides an historical account of
learning disability from the 1400’s to 2003, including legislative and policy changes in Scotland over
this time. The historical context is used to discuss the past and present beliefs about and attitudes
toward people with a learning disability, as well as the influence these historical events have had on
social provision for this group of people. From this perspective the role of policy and legisltation is
shown to have an impactful influence on the perceptions about and experiences of people with a
learning disability.

Campbell, F. A. K. (2003). The Great Divide- Abelism and technologies of disability production.
    Centre for Social Change Research, School of Humanities and Human services, Queensland
    Uiversity of Technology. Brisbane. 440 pgs.

Campbell (2003) in her thesis on ableism and technology, provides a lengthy discussion of how
technological improvements are seen as the new answer to the ‘problem’ of disability. Case points
include genetics or early detection technology which aim to eradicate the ‘problem’ or at least
alleviate it. The theory of ableism is discussed as the real reason the people with a disability
experience marginalisation and oppression- it is the ideology that tells us what we should be.
Ableism does not allow for ‘difference’, which is what this thesis advocates for. The path of inquiry in
this thesis is to find out what disability tells us about what it means to able, instead of the usual
which entails the able determining what it means to have a disability. This article is lengthy, but does
provide case examples of discussion points.

Commonwealth of Australia (2009). Shut Out: The Experience of People with Disabilities and their
    Families in Australia. National Disability Strategy Consultation Report. National People with
    Disabilities and Carer Council. Commonwealth of Australia: Canberra. 90 pgs.

‘Shut Out’ (2009) reports on the national consultation aimed at forming a National Disability Strategy
to improve the experiences of people with disability their families and carers. The report provides an
account of the consultations which show that people with a disability are not currently offered the
same access to a meaningful but ordinary life. Shut Out (2009) offers accounts of the barriers people
with a disability experience in relation discrimination, support services, employment, access to
transport and the physical environment, education and social isolation. Issues of social, cultural and
political isolation are the main themes of the report, with possible solutions presented. The report
details possible directions of the National Disability Strategy to address some of these issues
including the national, coordinated approach, adherence to the UN Convention of the Right of
Persons with Disabilities, creation of an ‘Office of Disability’, and an implementation and monitoring

Radcliffe, J.J.L. and Turk, V. (2007). Distress in children with learning disabilities at a respite unit:
      perspective on their experience. British Journal of Learning Disabilities(36). Pp 91-101.

This study aims to investigate the experiences of children it with a learning disability in respite units.
The study used the accounts of the respite care staff, parents, teachers and children to gather
information about distress levels. It is reported that up to 54% of the children experienced medium
to strong negative reactions. Complexities such as the inconsistency between reports of distress for
the same child by different people and the possible conflict of interest between the parental and
child needs were discussed. Suggestion further areas of research include further exploration of the
experiences of children with learning disabilities in respite centres, locating best practice and finding
strategies to manage the distress of children in respite as well as the needs of parents.

Kudlick, C. (2003). Disability History: Why We Need Another “Other”. The American Historical Review
Kudlick’s article encourages the study of disability in its own right. She suggests that the study of
disability move beyond the individual to how, as a social category, disability contributes to the
understanding of hierarchies of society using a socio-political analysis. Kudlick argues that disability
should be seen as a social category similar to that of gender and race, especially considering the
extend of the lived experience in society. The article suggests that those interested in fields of study
such as politics, history, labour, economics, religion, medicine and many other fields should consider
conducting analysis using a disability focus. The author then provides a discussion of the current
literature available that uses an analysis of disability as well as a detailed breakdown of deafness in a
historical context.

And many others...

Baker, B. (2002). The Hunt for Disability: The New Eugenics and the Normalization of School
      Children. Teachers College Record (104)4. Pp 663-703.

Cosgrove, L. and McHugh, M. (2000). Speaking for Ourselves: Femist Methods of Community
      Psychology. American Journal of Community Psychology(28) 6. Pp 815-838.

Davis, A. (n.d). Ian Hacking, learning disabilities and human taxonomies. Durham School of
      Education. Durham University. United Kingdom. 19 pgs.

Dowse, L. (2009). Some people are never going to be able to do that: Challenges for people with
      intellectual disability in the 21st century. Disability & Society (24)5. Pp 571-584.

Hacking, I. (n.d). Making Up People. Internet publication URL: http://www.generation-

Harnois, C. (2008). Re-presenting Feminisms: Past, Present and Future. NWAS Journal(20)1. 120-145.

Klotz, J. (2001). Denying Intimacy: The Role of Reason and Institutional Order in the Lives of People
      with an Intellectual Disability. Department of Anthropology, Faculty of Arts. University of
      Sydeny. Sydney. 19 pgs.

Mackey, P. J. (n.d). Crip Utopia and the future of disability. Internet publication URL:

Oliver, M. J. (1999). Capitalism, disability and ideology: A materialist critique of the Normalization
      principle. First published in Flynn, R J. and Lemay, A. [eds] A Quarter-Century of
      Normalization and Social Role Valorization: Evolution and Impact. Internet publication URL:
Osburn, J. (2006). An Overview of Social Role Valorization Theory. First published in SRV/VRS: The
      International Social Role Valorization Journal(3) 1. Pp 7-12.

Quibell, R. (2004). Unmaking the other? Discourses of Intellectual Disability in Contemporary Society.
      Department of Sociology, Faculty of Life and Social Sciences. Swineburne University of
      Technology. Hawthorn Australia. 345 pgs.

Schalock, R., Luckasson, R. and Shorgren, K. (2007). The Renaming of Mental Retardation:
      Understanding the Change to the Term Intellectual Disability. Intellectual and Developmental
      Disabilities(45)2. Pp 116-124.

Shakespeare, T. (2000). Helpless, in Help. Venture Press: Brisbane. Pp 1-20.

Snell, M. and Lukasson, R. (2009). Characterisitcs and Needs of People with Intellectual Disability
      Who Have Higher IQs. . Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities(47)3. Pp 220-233.

Shaddock, A. J., Spinks, A. T. and Esbensen, A. (2000). Improving Communication with People with an
      Intellectual Disability: the context of validation of the Biala-II profile. International Journal of
      Disability, Development and Education(47)4. Pp 383-395.

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