Posted: February 10th, 2022

Review Of The Literature

Accommodation of People Living with Disabilities

Genesis :

The issue of disability has been in existence for a long time and has not emerged due to

the increasing number of people affected. It is a concept that has existed for as long as

people have existed. While disability itself has not changed, the perception and view of

the concept have changed, and it is beautiful that it has changed for the better. Before

1800, disability was perceived as a punishment from God, and people living with

disabilities were considered unhealthy and powerless (De Los Santos, 2018). These

people were often perceived as failures and deformed.

Due to these myths and perceptions, people living with disabilities were isolated,

especially for children who were usually left at home. The disabled were denied

education, employment, and appropriate care that other members of society received.

In some societies, people living with disabilities were forced to beg on the streets

because they could not fend for themselves, and no one was willing to accommodate

them (Scarborough, 2018). Over time, the perception of disability changed, and it has

been seen as an issue that has health and policy implications. The medical model of

disability viewed disability as an issue of the person living with the disability. The

changes in perception and introduction of disability models gave birth to the need to

address barriers to education, healthcare, and other societal needs.

Policies that date back to the early 1900s have promoted the inclusion of people living

with disabilities in society. Most of the early policies and laws addressed the inclusion of

people living with disabilities in income, housing, education, and access to healthcare.

Earlier federal agencies focused on the prevention of disabilities with minimal effort put

on addressing existing disabilities. The Americans Disability Act was the first law that

was designed to prevent discrimination against people living with disabilities (Forbe-

Pratt, 2019). The Act aimed at meeting four goals; equal employment opportunities,

independent living, full participation in the community, and economic self-sufficiency.

The Act was signed into law in 1990 and was amended in 2008. Since then, several

Acts and laws have been implemented across the globe to encourage the inclusion of

people living with disabilities.


Disability-a physical or a mental state that limits one’s senses, movements, and


Deformation- An altered form.

Impairment-Any abnormality, either psychosocial, anatomical, or psychological.

Human rights-Inherent rights that are universal for human beings.

Myth-widely held but false belief.

Connotation :

Today, the issue of disability has become increasingly significant in the political agenda

as well as a public consciousness. Studies have scrutinized the issue of disability as a

political, cultural, and social phenomenon. Recent studies d not focus on disability as a

clinical, medical, or therapeutic issue. Instead, scholars have focused on redefining

disability and advocating for an end to structural and other barriers to inclusivity

(Goodley et al., 2019). Studies also clearly indicate that despite laws that prohibit

disability-based discrimination, people living with disabilities continue to experience

discrimination in employment, education, recreation, and other aspects that are open to

people without any form of disabilities.

Most recent news stories focus on disability at the workplace, with media outlets

highlighting cases of discrimination, court cases, and individuals that have been

compensated for being discriminated against because of their disabilities. For example,

in July 2021, the Independent highlighted a story of a woman who was awarded $

125million for being fired by Walmart because of Down’s Syndrome. Newspapers have

also analyzed pay disparities among employees, citing that people living with disabilities

get less pay compared to those without disabilities (Independent, 2021). In 2022, most

stories on disabilities will be positive, with most news platforms covering efforts to

accommodate people living with disabilities. On January 10, 2022, the Harvard gazette

documented that disability is a stubborn problem and put forth ways of accommodating

them (Harvard gazette, 2022). Other news stories have focused on massive investment

in disability services which gives hope for people living with disabilities.

Disability is a contemporary and current issue because it is a complex phenomenon that

affects people living with disabilities and those around them. Technically, the issue of

disability affects the whole society, and most people will be disabled at some point in

their life. As a contemporary issue, it is prudent to emphasize the need to perceive

disability as an integral part of diversity, not a tragedy or problem. It is an issue that

affects everyone because every individual knows someone who is living with a disability.

Some have close family members living with disabilities, and studies on disability help

society members understand society, relationships, and families to make the world more

accepting and accessible.

Several institutions have prioritized the issue of disability and inclusion. The American

Psychological Association has urged society to put the person first and always refer to

them as people living with disabilities instead of disabled persons. The World Health

Organization had emphasized the need to address the barriers that hinder people living

with disabilities from fully and effectively participating in societal activities (Bull et al.,

2020). Scholars, on their hand, scrutinize disability and offer useful tips and insights that

make the world understand disability better and avoid myths that encourage

discrimination. The media is also highlighting news stories that help champion for

equality and equal treatment of people living with disabilities.

Opposing / Divergent views :

There are several conflicting opinions regarding people living with disabilities. One of

the issues is the value of the lives of disabled people, which attracts controversies in

areas such as abortion of a fetus with likely birth defects, physician-assisted suicide,

and withholding of prolonged treatment (Robinson, 2019). Some individuals would not

want to live with the hardships of disability and would consider ending their lives

prematurely using either of the methods mentioned previously. To some, every human

being has the right to live and would choose to live, despite their physical, emotional, or

mental state.

There are also conflicting views on the role of society in constructing disability.

According to the social model perspective, disability is socially constructed by placing

barriers limiting people born with impairments. The proponents of the theory propose

that since disability is a construct of society, it can be fixed by restructuring society so

that people living with disabilities have the same level of accessibility as those without

disabilities. While people may be born with impairments, the existing barriers are what

make them disabled.

Another conflicting issue related to disability is equality of human rights. Western

philosophers argue that all human beings, including those living with disabilities, have

fundamental human rights. According to Immanuel Kant, human beings have rights

because they have reason and the capacity for rational decision-making (Zivi, 2020).

The issue of equality of human rights becomes an issue, especially for people whose

disability compromises their conceptual capacities and ability to control behavior (Puras

& Gooding, 2019). Since the mentally-disabled people may not make rational decisions,

they have the right to basic shelter, food, and freedom from abuse.

Stakeholders acknowledge that people living with disabilities have been acceptable in

society over time, and they are treated equally as those without disabilities. The

stakeholders pose that there are fewer physical and structural barriers that prevent

people living with disabilities from living their best lives. On their part, other stakeholders

believe that people living with disabilities still face discrimination resulting from non-

adapted means of communication, discriminatory prejudice, stigma, and unavailability of

assisted technologies. Acknowledging existing discrimination is significant, as it

challenges scholars to come up with new and more approaches to accommodating

people living with disabilities.

Stakeholders also perceive disability as a natural phenomenon that exposes the

disabled to societal benefits such as tax benefits, winning the trust and goodwill, added

benefits in legal matters, discrimination and prejudices, and a lack of supportive

infrastructure. People living with disabilities are as productive as those who do not have

disabilities (Leber et al., 2018). However, it requires additional efforts for organizations

to support the disabled ad make additional adjustments to accommodate people living

with disabilities.

Systems / Models / Theories :

There are different medical, human rights, social, and political models of disability. The

critical disability theory is one of them, posing that ableism and racism operate jointly

and borrow concepts from each other. The theory criticizes traditional courses that are

believed to oppress the people living with disabilities. Proponents of this theory argue

that disability is not a medical or health issue; rather, it is an issue of power and politics

(Saxton, 2018). The perspective looks at disability as a justification for restricted access

to social and economic benefits because people living with disability are considered


The social model of disability differentiates impairment (mental or physical deformation)

from disability, which the theories perceive as an experience of social oppression. The

theory, which was developed by people living with disabilities, says that societal barriers

create disability and not the existing impairments (Barnes, 2019). For example,

buildings that lack toilets that are accessible to people with impairments create

disability-they are unable to access the toilets. The social model recognizes helps

society to recognize the barriers for the people living with disabilities and promote

equality and independence.

The medical model of disability poses that people are disabled by their physical, mental,

and other impairments that make them different from people without disabilities.

According to the model, the focus is what is wrong with the person and not what the

person needs to be comfortable and integrate with society. The model further poses that

the disabilities can be fixed through medical approaches, even if the impairment is not

painful. The model seeks to set low expectations regarding control and independence

among people living with disabilities.

Lastly, the human rights model focuses on according fundamental human rights to

people living with disabilities. The model recognizes disability as a natural part of human

diversity that should be supported and respected as much as possible (Watson et al.,

2020). According to this model, impairment should not be a basis to deny people living

with disabilities opportunities and comfort. The model places disability at the center

stage when deciding on a person living with disabilities. For example, when designing a

toilet at the workplace, people with physical disabilities must be put into consideration

so that they do not have to struggle to access the toilets. The social adjustments put

people living with disabilities in a better place to enjoy natural and artificial privileges of

life that people without disabilities enjoy.


Barnes, C. (2019). Understanding the social model of disability: Past, present, and

future. In Routledge handbook of disability studies (pp. 14-31). Routledge.

Bull, F. C., Al-Ansari, S. S., Biddle, S., Borodulin, K., Buman, M. P., Cardon, G., … &

Willumsen, J. F. (2020). World Health Organization 2020 guidelines on physical

activity and sedentary behavior. British journal of sports medicine, 54(24),


De Los Santos, S. B. (2018). Determining academic success in students with disabilities

in higher education (Doctoral dissertation, Texas A&M University-Kingsville).

Goodley, D., Lawthom, R., Liddiard, K., & Runswick-Cole, K. (2019). Provocations for

critical disability studies. Disability & Society, 34(6), 972-997.

Forber-Pratt, A. J. (2019). (Re) defining Disability culture: Perspectives from the

Americans with Disabilities Act generation. Culture & Psychology, 25(2),


Independent (2021) Woman with Down’s Syndrome was awarded $ 125m by a court

after being fired by Walmart.

Leber, M., Bastič, M., Moody, L., & Krajnc, M. S. (2018). A study of the impact of

ergonomically designed workplaces on employee productivity. Advances in

Production Engineering & Management, 13(1), 107-117.

Puras, D., & Gooding, P. (2019). Mental health and human rights in the 21st

century. World Psychiatry, 18(1), 42.

Robinson, H. (2019). Abortion on the Basis of a Risk of Disability. Philosophical

Foundations of Medical Law, 214.

Saxton, M. (2018). Hardbodies: exploring historical and cultural factors in disabled

people’s participation in exercise; applying critical disability theory. Sport in

Society, 21(1), 22-39.

Scarborough, C. (2018). Viewing Disability in Medieval Spanish Texts. Amsterdam

University Press.

The Harvard Gazette(2022) Why disability is a particularly stubborn Problem

Watson, J., Anderson, K., Frawley, P., & Balandin, S. (2020). Human rights for people

with a disability. In Health Equity, Social Justice, and Human Rights (pp.

116-124). Routledge.

Zivi, K. (2020). Hiding in public or going with the flow: Human rights, human dignity, and

the movement for menstrual equity. Human Rights Quarterly, 42(1), 119-144.

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