Publication Date

January 2003


This paper argues that the relationship between disability and rehabilitation is best explained in terms of three distinct but related definitions of disability. The first is the orthodox ‘individualistic’ medical definition; the second, is the more liberal ‘inter-relational’ account and; the third, is the ‘radical‘ socio/political interpretation commonly referred to as the ‘social model of disability’. By adopting the latter it is suggested that ‘rehabilitation’ for people with ascribed impairments and labelled ‘disabled’ is extremely limited in what it can achieve, due to the ongoing cultural bias against this increasingly large section of the population, and the effective de-politicisation of disability and related issues by politicians, policy makers and academics. It concludes with a brief focus on alternative strategies generated by disabled people and their organisations.