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Contemporary concepts of disability are rooted in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century developments.Foremost among these was the development of clinical medical discourse, which made the human body visible as a thing to be manipulated, studied, and transformed.In the early 1970s, disability activists began to challenge how society treated disabled people and the medical approach to disability.Due to this work, physical barriers to access were identified.In the early modern period there was a shift to seeking biological causes for physical and mental differences, as well as heightened interest in demarcating categories: for example, Ambroise Pare, in the sixteenth century, wrote of "monsters", "prodigies", and "the maimed".The European Enlightenment's emphases on knowledge derived from reason and on the value of natural science to human progress helped spawn the birth of institutions and associated knowledge systems that observed and categorized human beings; among these, the ones significant to the development of today's concepts of disability were asylums, clinics, and, prisons.The concept of a neutral person evening up the odds was extended to handicap racing in the mid-18th century.
They were also thought to be part of the natural order, especially during and in the fallout of the Plague, which wrought impairments throughout the general population.
Disability is an impairment that may be cognitive, developmental, intellectual, mental, physical, sensory, or some combination of these.
It substantially affects a person's life activities and may be present from birth or occur during a person's lifetime.
Disabilities is an umbrella term, covering impairments, activity limitations, and participation restrictions.
An impairment is a problem in body function or structure; an activity limitation is a difficulty encountered by an individual in executing a task or action; while a participation restriction is a problem experienced by an individual in involvement in life situations. It is a complex phenomenon, reflecting the interaction between features of a person’s body and features of the society in which he or she lives.