Disability has numerous definitions, and different definitions conjure up varying assumptions about the lives and expectations of persons with disabilities. This chapter explores the historical roots of these definitions and the rationale for different perspectives, providing broad overviews of the medical and social models of disability. It then reviews several major definitions of disability in the United States, including those of the Social Security Administration and the Americans with Disabilities Act. It concludes by describing the definition used by the World Health Organization, which guides perspectives throughout the book.
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