is unlikely to apply across all situations. This will, for the short run, make the tasks facing researchers much harder.

This conception of disability also carries with it implications for professional training. If the goal of professional training in rehabilitation is to impart the skills needed to reduce disability, training programs will need to teach many forms of environmental modification. Training may need to be broader than it has been, and it will need to include more professional fields and skills (see Chapter 9 for further discussion of this issue).

Finally, even though disability policy is not the focus of this report, it is worth noting that the policy implications arising from this definition of the concept are enormous. Disability determination will not be able to be a single event. Rather, a determination of disability status, for example, for the purpose of receiving Social Security Disability Income benefits, will have to be tied to a specific time, place, set of skills, and type of job. It cannot be permanent, for not only will changes in the person's own health or educational status change it, but so will changes in aspects of the work environment. Additionally, any single disability determination might not be acceptable across programs, since different programs apply to different environments.


Recommendation 3.1 Researchers and educators should adopt the model for rehabilitation and the enabling-disabling process presented here. Programs supporting rehabilitation-related research should adopt its terminology and use it as an organizing tool.

Recommendation 3.2 Based on the model of the enabling-disabling process described in this report, methods for quantifying disability should be developed that are sensitive to the characteristics of both the person and the environment. Such a metric would facilitate additional research into the factors that affect transitions between disability and other states of the enabling-disabling process, and the development of effective preventive and rehabilitative intervention strategies.

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