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Re: Issues: Part 2 - #16 through #43

From: Ian Jacobs <ij@w3.org>
Date: Mon, 29 Nov 1999 22:20:41 -0500
Message-ID: <38434289.C3663A78@w3.org>
To: Denis Anson <danson@miseri.edu>
CC: Bryan Campbell <bryany@pathcom.com>, w3c-wai-ua@w3.org
Denis Anson wrote:
> Under the WHO/NIDRR model of disability, impairments and disabilities are
> two different things.  An impairment is caused by pathophysiology, and
> describes the inability to contract the muscles of the lens of the eye, to
> contract a muscle, and similar types of difficulties.  A "functional
> limitation" is the inability to perform an action because of an impairment.
> A person who is unable to discriminate text below 14 pt. has a functional
> limitation.  A disability is the inability to perform a task in the
> environment under consideration.  The inability to read a web page that is
> displayed in a small font is a disability.
> Note that these are medical terminology, and have specific meanings.  Hence,
> the term "visual impairment" is exactly the right term for us to use when
> talking about accommodating to a persons abilities so that they have access.
> If we do not accommodate, then the person has a disability.

This suggests to me that it is incorrect to say that someone
"has a disability period". You may say that a person "has a visual
impairment period" or that the person "has a disability in this
context", but you would not be able to discuss a disability out of

Does this mean we should adopt very careful language to respect
this distinction? Or does this mean that we can more casually exchange
the terms and not offend nor cause misunderstanding?

 - Ian
Received on Monday, 29 November 1999 22:21:47 UTC

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