chapter
4 Pages

Introduction

BySALLY FRENCH, JOHN SWAIN

Policies from multinational agencies, central governments, local governments and institutions have shaped the lives of disabled people throughout the world. Disabled people have consistently been marginalized and regarded as inferior and burdensome to mainstream society. This, together with their lack of power and political influence, has led, fundamentally, to harmful and degrading policy and practice. Under various Government Acts disabled people have been sterilized, incarcerated, segregated in ‘special’ schools and subjected to degrading medical treatment and rehabilitation in the name of ‘independence’ and ‘normality’. In order to put such policy into practice, disabled people have been excessively scrutinized, assessed and appraised by non-disabled ‘experts’. Charities have focused on needs rather than rights and have regarded disabled people as objects of their ‘care’ and patronage. Policy, however, is rationalized in terms of the ostensible benefits for disabled people, predominantly defining needs and providing the bases for practice and provision in meeting their predefined needs.