chapter  2
13 Pages

The Politics of Disability and the Struggle for Change

There is little doubt that during the last two decades or so our understanding of disability has been transformed. Although the traditional individualistic medical approach remains prevalent, many people across the world, including politicians and policy makers, now recognise that 'disability' is an equal opportunities/human rights issue on a par with sexism, heterosexism, racism and other forms of social exclusion. Since 1981, the United Nations (UN) International Year of Disabled People, the UN has promoted various initiatives on the equalisation of opportunities for disabled persons for member states. Nations as diverse as America and China now have anti-discrimination laws designed to combat discrimination against this increasingly large section of the world's population (Stone 1999). There is general agreement too that these remarkable and unprecedented achievements are due, almost exclusively, to the politicisation of disability by disabled people and their organisations in various nations throughout the world (Driedger 1989; Campbell and Oliver 1996).