This chapter adds complexity to descriptions of disability by introducing distinctions between “impairment,” “disability,” and “handicap.” It also describes the diversity of experiences located within the category “disabled” and observes the ways in which other identity characteristics intersect with disability, as in the case of sexism. A brief overview of disability activism and the academic discipline of disability studies is included. Particular attention is given to description of three models of disability: the medical or functional-limitation model, where attention is focused around what one can or cannot physically or functionally do; the social or minority group model, in which shared experiences of discrimination and oppression are emphasized; and the limits model, which encourages engagement in critical reflection on embodied experience, and offers a way to think about the limits of each person and situation and of what such limits may enable or make difficult.
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