Training Outline

2.6 Standard Lecture: Defining Disability in Legislation (20 minutes)

  • Explain to participants that the definition of disability determines who will be recognized as a person with a disability, and hence protected by the relevant legislation. This is very much dependent on the goal being pursued by the particular law or policy. Stress that there is no right or single definition of disability that can be universally used across labour or social legislation. Use Transparency 26 to review the two different approaches to defining disability frequently found in national legislation. First, wording aimed at a narrow, identifiable beneficiary group. This should be used if the aim is to craft laws to provide financial or material support to disabled individuals, or employers of disabled people. A limited, impairment-related definition of disability (individual model) thereby ensures that support is targeted at those who are most in need. Second, broadly inclusive wording aimed at protection from discrimination on grounds of disability. This broader definition of the protected group (social model) should be used in anti-discrimination laws because many people, including those with minor disabilities, people associated with people with disabilities and those who are wrongly assumed to have a disability can be affected by disability-based discrimination.
  • Reference page 17 of the Primer to highlight for participants examples from Australia, China, Germany, India, South Africa, and the United Kingdom.
  • Use Transparency 27 to explain to participants about the different terms used to describe disability. Various words are used to describe people with disabilities. Terms such as ‘invalids’, ‘handicapped,’ or ‘retarded’ are considered by many to be offensive and assume that a person’s identity is based primarily on that person’s impairment. Legislation should include terms which are consistent with respect for the dignity of human beings – such as ‘persons with disabilities’, or ‘disabled persons’.
    OPTIONAL EXERCISE (30 minutes): Using Transparency 28 have participants work in pairs to identify person-first ways of expressing terms that have been provided. Have participants write their responses on paper. Afford participants approximately 10 minutes to work and then have them share their responses with one another.