On the notions of disability and handicap

Journal article citation:
Scandinavian Journal of Social Welfare, 2(1), January 1993, pp.17-24.
Munksgaard/ Blackwell

In 1980, the World Health Organisation (WHO) published the International Classification of Impairments, Disabilities and Handicaps. In addition to a nomenclature and classification, this publication contains a set of elaborate definitions of the central concepts in the area. The conceptual structure has been the focus of intensive critical discussion during the last decade. In 1989, a special society, the Canadian Society for the ICIDH, presented an alternative characterization of the concepts. This article attempts to continue this discussion by deepening the analysis concerning, in particular, two aspects of disability and handicap: first, the idea of normality contained in the WHO classification; second, the idea of context dependence, which is a special focus of the Canadian group. As a result of this discussion, the author presents an alternative set of definitions of the notions of disability and handicap.

Subject terms:
physical disabilities;
Journal home page
ISSN print:

Key to icons

  • Free resource Free resource
  • Journal article Journal article
  • Book Book
  • Digital media Digital media
  • Journal Journal

Give us your feedback

Social Care Online continues to be developed in response to user feedback.

Contact us with your comments and for any problems using the website.

Sign up/login for more

Register/login to use standard search filters, access resource links, advanced search and email alerts